Wednesday, March 13, 2013
I don't read a lot of bike media...but when I see something that has "angry" and "singlespeeds" in the title it usually catches my eye. Now I know its cool to think that singlespeeders are angry. I get the whole edgy image thing. It sells to a certain demographic. Well on paper. Sorry cycling will never be skate culture. Or surf culture. Its cycling for god sake. We are geeks. Geeks rarely get angry. Just because you have tattoos and look like a Visigoth does not mean you are angry. In fact most people I know with tattoos and look like Vikings are the most well adjusted people I have ever met in my life. All the singlespeeders I know are very well adjusted and somewhat mellow. The cyclists I know who are angry tend to have lots and lots of gears. Gears make you angry. Because you can go really hard. And if you aren't going hard some dude on the other side of the tape is going to scream in your ear to go harder and that hurts. And when feelings get hurt people tend to get angry. The myth that singlespeeding is wicked hard and only the truly tough will do it is silly also. Yes 90% of the people who ride singlespeeds that I personally know are really fit and talented riders. But they chose singlespeeding to simplify things not to show off what a badass they are. Ok maybe a few of them do that...ok I have gotten a touch off track. Back to my original point. I read an article recently about a shootout between a 26" bike and a 29" inch bike at a 24 hour race. Here is the linky ANGRYSINGELSPEEDER.
Now I like the concept. But I was a bit surprised. I thought this had been decided long ago. Last time I checked the 26" wheel was dead and buried. Ok not for slalom and downhill. Slalom kicks ass. I wish we had those old school mtn bike races where we all raced the same weekend. But let's say our focus is on cross country style riding. That is the riding most of us do right? And certainly the style of a 24 hour race. Reading the article I was one impressed by the young mans taste in bicycles. And two impressed by his writing and moxy. But as I read the story I was sort of shocked by his test. Yes it was very scientific (not really). He swapped bikes each lap and recorded his time. He gave the predictable arguments for a 26 inch wheel. They accelerate faster (not really), they are more nimble (nope) and he liked how they descended (really?). I know there are still some people who hate change. 29ers are weird. The wheels are so BIG! And the position for a short person can be odd. Sort of like a Mantis waiting to strike ( I like that!) But please. The 29er is better I am sorry. After I could see straight and try and think about his article it hit me.
I did this "test" last year. I raced SinglespeedaPalooza on that hot little number above. Yeah that HUP blue Seven. Its 26" and sexy as hell. It rides great. Changed my whole outlook on mtn biking. But I still sucked at it. This bike was the first modern mtn bike that I rode on the east coast. The east coast is nasty. Really, really nasty. What you think is technical, assuming you don't live here, is not technical. Our "trails" are axe head rocks, dropoffs, roots and stone walls built in the 1700s. Basically the trails want to kill you or inflict serious bodily harm at every turn. But its fun, I swear. So this bike and its 26" wheels and disc brakes was sort of a gateway drug to New England mtn biking. Not perfect. But I didn't die. So a success right? But back to SSPA. So we took all the gears off and ran a tensioner. SSPA is possibly the coolest bike race on the planet. I had a great time and raced well. Then at the end of the summer I raced Darkhorse 40 on the same course but on a 29er singlespeed. And it was about 12 miles longer.
You can't even compare the two races. I rode over my friends bike in the first mile. I was clearing stuff that I fought through on the 26" bike. The bike railed all the technical bits. It was faster, handled better and didn't beat me up. 29er won that shootout hands down. Now why did it win? Mike Zanconato knows how to build a 29er. Its not like you can just throw 29 inch wheels on a bike frame and call it a 29er. Mike knows how to dial in the ride. He personally developed the geometry of the bike. How many framebuilders can say that? How many mass produced bike builders can say that? I can't speak for Mike about why the bike rides so great. To me he is like a wizard. Or Hephaestus. He is a bike building god. There I said it. Now don't get me wrong I liked the article. Not trying to diss the writer. But the 26 inch wheel bike is a dinosaur for the purposes that most mtn bikers utilize it for. End of rant
On to bigger and more pressing matters! The Ronde de Rosey is in a month. Our good friends at Lazer just delivered some awesome prizes for the raffle! We have a sick matte black Genesis helmet, some eyewear and a bunch of great swag. Lazer and Smithers have been huge supporters of the RdR from the beginning and show the #NECX and cross so much love. I can't even wait til April 14th. I am a bit nervous why lie. Roger is on form and riding with the eye of the tiger right now. Abel and DD may be screwed. I may have to leave them at Peets in Wellesley. Or on the side of the road in Lincoln. Rosey won't give me any hints about the route. He just gets a Cheshire cat look on his face and changes the subject. I have some serious work to do between now and then. Need to focus more on the actual riding the bike and less on where to put some good beer stashes. Cutler on the Island is a must right? Ok countdown is on. See you all in a month. Its going to be like a #NECX reunion. Hugs for everyone. Except Jerry. I don't want to freak him out...