The last time I rode a single speed was 35 years ago when ET sailed across the moon in basket on a Kuwahara BMX! I needed a BMX I told my dad! NEEDED IT! When I got one, after one of my best tantrums that involving making a deal to wipe my dad’s bum when he’s old; my first ride was sheer bliss!! BMX parks developed and I raced. My brother was a natural at it and we were the Hansen brother duo. My fondest memory was taking my BMX off the beaten path along Chapman Creek and almost prophetic, was my first mountain bike ride. Gears came, I got a road bike and BMX riding along with singlespeed faded into memory.
Over the last week, I had an epiphany that the path to a simple ride is to go singlespeed. Yes that’s right baby – 30 tooth chainring and a 21 cog in the back! Of course, I looked up on internet about setting up a singlespeed and over a couple of beers on my birthday, I set it up!
My first Instagram post was a success with comments like “You’re crazy” or “Singlespeed has three speeds – Sitting, Standing and Walking” or, my favorite, “we use gears for a reason”. Okay I get it – its hard and it doesn’t make sense but the allure of it all was too much for me to ignore it. I’m finding my 12 year old spirit!
Today was my maiden voyage of my setup. It start well, the silence of no gears was sheer bliss. Just me and my bike deeply connected to the ground. Then a hill came up, and bang my chain came off…Grrr! And then again on another hill…then probably half dozen times more. Okay so I guess singlespeeds are sensitive to chainline. That’s the one thing that I didn’t think about during my installation and, of course, 6 beers deep doesn’t help with reading ALL the setup instructions. So, on the trail and only 10 min into the ride, I just thought I’ll just slide the dropouts more to make the chain tighter. For the most part, the fixed worked except the hill that I needed to really stand and hammer. The next thing I remember after my chain came off, is driving my knee into my handlebar/lever and planting my chest onto the stem. An explosion of pain around my knee created this wave of nausea that made damn near cry and almost throwing-up. Ride over – “Sheer bliss between catastrophic failures” would be the title of my Strava ride.
As I write this post, I’m sitting on the couch with a beer to numb the pain and big ice pack on my knee. Well back to the drawing board, and the not-so-simple-riding-life continues….