Sunday, January 19, 2014

The 5-Friends, 1-Gear Ride

I admit it, I have a triple chain ring on my bike.  Now, I know that more than one bike purist out there is scoffing at this because a real cyclist rides a double.  Oh well, you’ll just have to get over it.  I like my triple and I don’t plan on changing any time soon. However, I can say that I am not in the small ring very often but it’s nice to know it’s there if I need it.

My rear cassette is a 9-speed, which means I have 27 gears to choose from on any given ride.  For yesterday’s ride I only chose one of them.

Social Ride My team decided it was time for a off-season, social pace, coffee ride.  This means the real purpose of the ride is to chit-chat and enjoy the day and not hammer yourself, or others, on the bike.  How do we keep the ride social? By penalizing anyone who rides in the big ring!!!

With that in mind, here’s the official ride description for Saturday’s ride:
If you are interested in a fun, unique Winter ride, come join us this Saturday. We will meet in the town of Windsor, and go over Chalk Hill, visit Alexander Valley, with a coffee stop at Geyserville Mud, before returning via West Dry Creek. All of this will be done IN THE SMALL CHAINRING ONLY! The first person to decide they can't handle the snails' pace, buys coffee for the bunch! Of course town limit sprints may happen, which can be quite entertaining to watch. 

As I was thinking about the ride I started to wonder if I should ride my single speed.  I mean it was a social ride after all so it might work.  My concern was that it was a 40-mile ride with a number of small climbs so it could be very challenging.  That’s when I emailed Coach Tim and here’s the  ensuing electronic conversation.

Me – I ‘m thinking about doing something stupid and riding the single speed.
Tim – Go for it!  It’s a social ride so you should be fine.
Me – My concern is the Chalk Hill Road and Canyon climbs.
Tim – Those might be tough.  What’s the gear on the single speed.
Me – 42 x 16
Tim – That’s a little too big.  Ride your road bike and stay in your 42 x 19 the entire ride instead.

Chalk Hill Social RideThat’s what I did and it was a blast.  I had to power over the climbs out of the saddle.  On the flats, I felt like a hamster I was pedaling so fast.  In fact my cadence ranged from a low of 50 rpms on one climb to 115 rpms on Alexander Valley Road.  I almost shifted once but fortunately I caught myself just in the nick of time. It was a truly unique cycling experience.  It was also a great training technique and one that I will use again as we continue through the season.

I was talking about my plan during our pre-ride coffee chat and two other riders decided to do the same thing.  They both gave up the ghost towards the end and shifted but I am happy to say I made it all the way.

I love having fun like this on the bike.  Besides having a blast by not shifting, it was also great just to kick back, slow the pace down and ride with friends.  It was just another example of why I love this sport so much.

So there you have it.  A beautiful ride that covered 37 miles (we cut out the Canyon climb due to a broken chain) and nearly 1,400 feet of climbing with 5 friends, a mid-ride coffee stop, lots and lots of laughs but just 1-gear.



Here's a story about the fun of turning your road bike into a single speed for the day. Enjoy!

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