Thursday, December 10, 2009

Single Speeds are Stupid

There I said it......Now before you get your tight pants and Doc Marten's in an uproar I am talking about using a single speed 'cross bike for racing 'cross against riders on geared bikes. That is undeniably stupid. Even the King of all single speeders Thom Parsons has unequivocally stated that trying to race a single speed against geared riders on a fast 'cross course is stupid. Although I believe the term he used was you'd have to be a certified moron to do so. And this is from a guy who lives and breathes single speeds and races them on an elite level for the Gary Fisher 29er Crew. And also happens to be one of the promoters of the Ice Weasels Cometh which is going to be home to the New England single speed World Championships! or something like that....
Now with all that said, racing a single speed 'cross bike against other racers on dedicated single speeds is actually really, really wicked pissah and kinda cool in a One-Design sailboard competition kind of way. You've never heard of One-Design sailboarding? Did you ever notice when sailboarding got into the olympics and they all had to go around on these identical boards with the same size sail...basically the idea with One-Design is that if all the racers are on the exact same vehicle the best tactician/sailor will rise to the top. With a single speed 'cross bike the same can be said, although in this case I think the best runner will likely be the winner or Thom Parsons as he is an animal. But I am putting my $$$$ on David Wilcox and his shark suit!

Its hard to tell if the single speed category at Ice Weasels will be a party or a race. It could be THE RACE of the day (dare I say the season?) or it could be a parade lap of epic proportions that quickly deteriorates into a you guys derby on the east coast? Probably not...basically its like roller ball but on bikes. Very popular with the single-speed set out on the west coast around the SF Bay Area. But they aren't riding $2,000 dollar custom single speeds with road race wheels modified to take one cog so maybe just forget I ever mentioned that whole derby thing and let's keep it as a race so I don't look even stupider than I am for building up a pimp-tastic single speed for one race to just get it destroyed the first lap.
Speaking of $2,000 custom single speed projects...ok so I may be the king of the stupids here as instead of just cobbing some beater 'cross bike together I had to go and bling the crap out of it. If I had my way and some certain someone didn't mess up the ordering process this here Sycip cross whip would have a blingtastic Gold ano King Headset on it instead of the peasant-like black one that adorns it currently...but I digress its never nice to point fingers at others failures. Am I perfect? Hell no, I am a train wreck of epic proportions. 

Gold would have been a little too flashy for what's going to go down on saturday anyway...but back to this "Project," the good news about my basement full of parts is I can whip together a bike pretty fast. Granted the road bike was heavily cannibalized for its record shifters and dura ace cranks but does it look like road riding season right now? Not so much...

But anyway take one gorgeous 853 steel handbuilt Sycip 'cross bike, add a custom Igleheart segmented cross fork, take some Mavic Ksyrium Sl premiums, add a dash of Paul's goodness, a hint of soulcraft spice and you have the manifestation of a kind of Norcal/New England fusion cuisine! Kind of like its rider...
Ok the race is in two days. I have come out of my NBX induced coma and feel like riding a bike again. I got two rides in on the single speed today. One was a 30 minute shake out to see how it all fit and worked. The second was a proper 1.5 hr ride. Ok the obvious. Holy crap my body feels like its been beaten with baseball bats. That shit is hard. Cross is hard enough, is making it harder a good idea? If you want to get harder it probably is a good idea. I now see why my friends Ronnie Steers and David Wilcox are such powerful riders!

The first thing that impressed me more than anything on my maiden voyage? That sexy Igleheart fork. Good god that man is Hephaestus incarnate...I know steel is heavy. A steel cross fork is probably a pound heavier than a carbon one. When I picked up Will Dugan's pit bike at Sterling I was shocked...24 lbs? It was HEAVY. Racing and heavy do not mix well. 

But there is no denying how much nicer a steel fork built by a master rides than a carbon one. It turned so much more predictably. It just turned better period. And the thing is I rode in some nasty conditions and never really felt in a spot of bother. Snow with ice and slush everywhere. The bike just felt bomber in the turns and dropping into offcambers and such. So chapeau Mr. Igleheart! It was well worth the wait as I have been itching to use that fork for a year.
The second thing that was impressed upon me is how hard it is. I finally found the right gear (I think) thanks to Thom's blog post...39X17 feels good. And Michelin Mud 2s are really nice in the snow and slush. Other than an annoying habit of ghost shifting...muscle memory is such a weird thing, I think I like this single speed thing. I can definitely see using this bike as offseason training and to just have a ton of fun on all year. And when New England single speed world's roll around next year who knows maybe I'll be sporting some Cosmics and fmb/michelin mud 2 franken tyres!

See you all at Ice Weasels! If you haven't registered (its closed!) get your butt down to Wrenthen early and do day of and be nice to Zanc!


  1. Reg doesn't close for 4 more hours! There's still time!

  2. The copy editor responsible for that shoddy journalism has been sacked!!! Good editorial staff is hard to come by these days...good link restored!

  3. I just converted my old sycip 853 to SS for the last two surf city races. Should be fun and a bit stupid. You must be feeling strong... I used to ride a 38-18 in Portland and I always remember Adam Myerson, saying that looks a bit heavy.... it echoed in my head all race. It was crazy muddy. I have a 36-16 and an option for 18 or even a 34... I didn't have ss bolts so I kind of have a 2x2