Ah, the crunch of frozen grass under the tyres – THAT is a great feeling. I wouldn’t be able to explain why, it’s just one of my simple pleasures and much like the feeling I get at the top of a climb on a cold wintry evening having churned up it on a singlespeed.
A lot of people over the last few years have asked “why the hell do you ride a bike with one gear?” – sometimes coloured with expletives but more often, simply disbelief. I’ve asked myself the same at certain points in time; the last being lap two into a dry Mountain Mayhem at Eastnor last summer, over a fairly quick track. Yes at times you can get caught out, trying to spin a little faster to keep up with the geared guy in front or grinding to a halt on that unexpected climb just round the corner…
Simplicity. That’s why I ride singlespeed. I love the sheer simplicity of the bike; shut up and ride attitude, and barely a mechanical cough as you silently slip through the trails (excusing squeaky saddles and those doofer things!). It’s the challenge of the thing; in the majority you will find yourself the minority – that’s where I get my kicks, if you can do it on a singlespeed you can do it on anything.
The downsides? I blew my knees out three summers back after 12 months of running one gear. “Sorry mate, your just getting old and worn out”, I think was the wry comment from the St John’s aide. Three years on and I’m still riding them though, having learnt a huge amount about correct bike setup and improving your riding style (big shout out to Chris and Beddis!) and consuming a healthy intake of Glucosamine!
So a few weeks back from NZ and with the aim to keep up the training for the forthcoming winter series (I chose to go for the Welsh XC by the way) the 16 tooth gear is storming the muddy trails round Herefordshire and the Forest of Dean.
Last night was no exception. Kicking off around 6.30pm, you’re not giving yourself much evening to ride when you live an hour in the wrong direction but it is well worth it. Two and half hours of grin factor, slipping and sliding your way through some of the best local trails across the Forest of Dean from the Pedalaway Cycle Centre with an ever increasing bunch of local lads, who between them can show you some little gems of trails to ride. One word to get you salivating – rollercoaster.
Ok it’s as much about sharing stories, gripes and spills, but I can’t think of a better way to spend a cold, icy evening.
Anyway, go on, get yourself away and down to On one* and try one gear out for yourself, you’ll bloody love it.
* in no way plugging On one; there are other reputable, nay very cool, singlespeed frame manufacturers out there – we just have a history of enjoying riding On one bikes… : D