So why did I, Single Speed Dad, want to embark upon this project? Well, I wanted to build a single speed mountain bike for myself so I can fulfill my childhood dream of becoming Jake McBurns. Okay, that wasn't a childhood dream, but it is a good aspiration if you want to be able to ride a single speed up, down or across anything that is on the face of the planet. They say that single speeds actually have three speeds - sitting, standing and walking. I don't recall seeing JM use his third speed, which makes him the kind of guy a single speeder would want to emulate. I don't really have that particular aspiration, being a bit too long in the tooth and a bit too wide in the belt line, but still, riding with Jake and Jonathon and a few others made single speeding look like fun.
Last year I did a few rides on my "experimental" single speed. This means that I picked a single gear and rode it for the whole ride, even when it seemed like a good idea to change gears, like when I was pushing that 27 speed wonder. But it did give me an idea of why it would be a new riding challenge. This reminds me of my youthful skiing days, in which I was an obsessed downhill fanatic living not far from Bogus Basin. At some point, my friends and I started looking for ways to freshen up the experience. We started by "borrowing" cross-country gear from our dads and learning to telemark on the downhill slopes. Anyway, the point is that it is fun to find ways to experience the things you love in a different way. It's one of the reasons I like road riding and racing, mountain bike riding and racing, a bit of cyclocross, commuting and generally finding any excuse to be on two wheels (including a bit of the motored variety).
Besides, keeping in mind the mathematical equations for bike ownership (Perfect number of bikes = X + 1, with X being the number you currently own. Sometimes also expressed as Perfect number of bikes = Y - 1, with Y being the number of bikes that would cause your significant other to throw you out of the house), I liked the idea of having a single speed to add to the bike selection. I also liked the idea of doing a fixed fork and super-light mountain bike. That way, when I was pushing it up the hills, at least there would be less weight to it.
It was fortuitous that about the time I was deciding to embark on this project, Steve's On Cannon decided to pick up the Niner line-up, so it appeared a bit of serendipity arose to help prompt this project ahead.
So, while it might be irrational, and I will undoubtedly be grunting up some hills wondering why I decided to give up my gears, I am still looking forward to it. And, ultimately, I am hoping to ride it across the State of Washington from west to east on dirt roads and trails almost the entire way. Stay tuned.
Next up, Christmas recollections from my partners in this project.