Monday, June 1, 2009


My Mom thinks I'm #1 too

A race just for singlespeeds? No gears?

Darkhorse Cycles thought it sounded like an interesting idea, and maybe they could get 90-100 people to show up in Stewart Forest for some fun.

204 preregistered riders later they had the largest gathering of singlespeeders on the East Coast.

The portion of course I was able to preride was tight and swoopy. It would be very hard to pass. To spread things out before we hit the singletrack they started us about 3/4th of a mile up a fireroad. There were 49 of us in the Pro / expert class: this is the biggest field I have ever raced against (back in the 90's the biggest was 45).

I lined up behind hole shot master James, and the whistle blows. I go backwards. I'm pedaling as fast as I can, and people are coasting past me. I enter the woods in the mid 30's (I think).

In the singletrack it is much more satisfying racing with singlespeeders; I feel I could be going a little faster, but there isn't the frustration of being stuck behind guys sitting and spinning in the first lap singletrack conga line that usually forms.

Slowly I start picking off riders. Power past a few on the first forest road, a couple more on wider technical spots. The gear I chose is very good in the woods. I can climb everything and can keep good speed in the swoopy stuff.

By mile marker 6 I'm grouped up with 4 other riders. One never passes me, but makes a few comments about how great the course is. Two in Bulldog jerseys. and one guy on a Superfly.

We are swapping spots back and forth quite a bit. When we get to a fireroad I go to the front and try and open something up, only to be passed en mass entering the singletrack as the fireroad pitches downhill.

The jockeying continues, as the Bulldogs, Mr. Superfly, and I constantly try and find what ever advantage we can over one another.

Racing singlespeeders is hard! They know all my tricks, and are playing to the same strengths as me.

Entering the second of two laps, the shuffling continues, and one of the Bulldogs can no longer hold the pace. Rootbeer Rig Bulldog, Mr. Superfly and me shuffling positions is becoming almost comical. At one point I suggest to Rootbeer Bulldog we should just set up a sprint finish for the end.

I'm glad he didn't take this offer, because even though he's still pulling passed me on the fireroads, his breath has become labored.

On the first two technical climbs they dismount to run which forces me to do so too. I'm able to run past Rootbeer Bulldog, only to be passed on the next fireroad.

On the next techy climb they run to the right, but I ride over a small rock ledge on the left and pass Rootbeer on the rock, and ride past Mr. Superfly before he remounts.

There is still a little more incline so a give it a good go to try and put some daylight between us.
I'm listening for them to be coming up behind me, but singlespeeds are so quiet, it's hard to tell. At intersections with spectators, I listen for applause behind me and try and judge what advantage I have.

Fear of the chase has pushed me up within sight of another rider from Ommegang Brewing around mile marker 6 (these are great to have on a race course by the way). Slowly I'm reeling him in, but before marker 7 he gets wind of me. I'm still gaining ground, but at the 8 mile marker he gives a good push and thwarts my advance. At the finish he told me he saw he only had 2 miles left, so he left it all out there (maybe mile markers aren't so hot).

In the end I finished 20th out of 49. Top half was my goal, so I'm psyched! Especially with the starting list I was racing against.

I felt real bad for Pro Thom Parsons who I saw calmly working on his bike he had hung from a tree. Seems he flatted twice, and had to settle for finishing a couple spots back from me, instead of dueling for the podium.

I probably could have used a bigger gear, but Josh, and James ran the same gear, finished 4th and 5th respectively, and went home with envelopes full of cash!

Major pros to Darkhorse Cycles for throwing a kickass event! Fun was had by all, and I'm definitely look forward to Singlespeed-A-Polooza 2010!

Kim reaps rewards from my two wheeled follies


Mark said...

I wish I could have been there - daughter's dance recital was more important. Hopefully next year. Good job on your finish!

TJ said...

Nice work Charles. Feel kinda left out reading your race report and not being a singlespeeder, but enjoyable anyways.

Mookie said...

Great work, Charles! You must have been in your glory with not a derailleur in sight.

Rigidnsingle said...

Loved your race report on the ss-a-palooza.
Remember: "Have fun stay single"

CB2 said...

@Mark-Definitely plan on it for 2010; total hoot

@TJ- Drink the Koolaid, come to the darkside my son...

@Axel-there where dérailleurs tensioners on SS conversions

@Monte- Thanks. I had a little different view than you...