The Single Life: Speed Dating
Not every ride is about trophies and personal records. Sometimes you need to take it easy to the top so you can play harder on the way down.
I have a confession: I am unfaithful… I have been unfaithful to the many I have left in my wake over the years. My wandering eye has led me to carbon, aluminum, 4”, 5” and 6” of travel, 29” wheels, VPP, single pivot, FSR; I am fickle with these precision machines. But that’s just it…When I am riding a beautifully tuned dual suspension mountain bike on a ribbon of trail I find myself thinking about the machine. I don’t want to think. I want to fill my senses with the trail and my surroundings. This is why I often choose a single speed.
How did this happen? Let me try to explain. Back in the late 90’s I worked at a small bike shop in Indianapolis, IN. It was during this time that I had my first dance with what would become my obsession. Enter Bob. Bob was the cog tattoo wearing, Spot Brand-riding manager of the shop who would become my single speed jedi master. Here I was, a 19-year-old shop rat that had just plunked down two summers worth of dough on a new Specialized Stumpjumper. I thought life could not get any better, and then I got asked to go on a ride with Bob and a few of his buddies.
I remember thinking they would be getting a great view of my green Michelin tire as I left them regretting their choice of buggies…Boy, was I wrong...
I reach for [my single speed] most frequently because it allows me the rare opportunity to disappear from my own mind.
I didn’t start riding a single speed because I thought it would make me cooler. I started riding a single speed because I wanted to be faster, and it grew to be so much more than that. I reach for it most frequently because it allows me the rare opportunity to disappear from my own mind. Getting faster and stronger were just pleasant byproducts of riding a bike that only has a single gear. Riding a single speed is simple. I grab it off the hook, squeeze the tires to check air pressure, and roll out the door. Now while I am in the woods I can absorb the things going on around me; the scratch of the tires on dry dirt, the light coming through the leaves, and the bzzzzzzzzzzz as I let off the gas coming up to that tricky left hander. This is why I choose the single life.