Definitions for non-biking readers:
single speed (n/ adj): a bike with only one “speed” i.e.: one ring in the front, one cog in the back. no derailleur. no shifting.
flow (n)/ flowiness (adj): the way in which a trail “moves” as you ride it… hard to describe without actually riding. let’s try this– if someone dumped a whole bunch of water on the trail, flowiness would describe how the water moved over the trail. assuming that it didn’t get absorbed by the ridiculous amount of sand we have in Michigan. so a non-flowy trail would make the water stop. a flowy trail would allow the water to move freely (albeit over rocks and roots and hills and fun stuff like that). please don’t get too technical on me with the laws of physics and such, i know that enough force could make water move freely regardless of how flowy the trail originally was. just… visualize.
We had hosted the State Championship Criterium race today at work. It was awesome driving in to Dexter (tiny little village just west of Ann Arbor) and seeing the streets downtown lined with a couple hundred bikers, some very nice bikes, and spectators. There was a wedding, a funeral, and a bike race in Dexter today, and I don’t think the town has seen that much excitement in decades.
So, long story short, we were supposed to close at 3. And then we were supposed to close at 5. But we started closing at 5:15, and finished closing at 6. So I didn’t get out of work until 6:15, ran home and grabbed a wheel to lend to a friend that trashed his last weekend– he had called earlier in the day looking to get the wheel fixed at the shop, but due to the race there was no mechanical/ warranty service today, and the shop is closed until Thursday because of the holiday, and I felt really bad having to tell my friend that on the phone, so I offered him my spare wheel to use in the meanwhile– and I got on the trail around 7:45.
Before I hit the trail, I was really scared that my legs would just cease to function mid-ride because my gear was just too hard and I would learn that I am, indeed, a total weakling. And then I’d cry. And my knees would disintegrate. And I’d cry some more.
But I was WRONG!
Once you get moving, that bike is incredibly fun to ride. It’s a bit tough to get on top of the gear again if you have to stop for any reason, but it’s certainly not “painful.” On hills, I could feel my right thumb automatically feeling for the shifter. Nope! Not there! There’s nothing to shift!
But all you have to do is get out of the saddle and keep pedaling! I took roomie’s advice and continued to pedal even tough I thought I would fall over… and it worked! I didn’t fall over! I made it up every little rise! (except towards the end, where there’s the “easy” or “hard” option– I took the “hard” option, which I’ve never even ridden on my geared bike. it wasn’t all that “hard,” but i clipped a tree with my incredibly wide handlebars on a really tight uphill turn and fell over. I had to run the rest of the way.)
I was also worried that with the big wheels (29 inches vs 26 inches standard) it would be really hard to maneuver through the trees and such. Nope! I don’t know, I think the bike handles even better than 26ers. Roomie said that was because of the stiff fork, it lets you know sooner when you’ve chosen a bad line, or are taking a corner too hard. You feel yourself wobble and then correct it and you’re good to go. Whereas with suspension, the line isn’t so clear, and suddenly you’re on the ground before you’ve had time to even react– unless you’re incredibly in-tuned with what your bike is telling you, which good riders are! 😉
And an unexpected added benefit (at least for me)? Well, I tend to brake on the downhills. And I brake too much, and at the wrong time, and this causes me to do stupid things like go flying over my handlebars. Brilliant, I know. With the stiff fork, you can’t grip the bar too hard on the downhills, because you’ll rattle your wrists and elbows off. Braking makes you grip the bar too hard. Hence, less braking, more momentum, fewer dislocated shoulders.
Oh, and her name is Ramona.