Wednesday, February 23, 2011


It is still early enough in the year that I am excited about getting outside to ride every time that I do.  This past weekend the boys and I got out for about 90 minutes on the bluff, aka south hill trails, aka High Drive trails.

Unlike the majority of folks who access them, we live below the bluff and we tend towards the south end of the bluff, including the trails that are nestled in behind Highland Park.  It is really nice to have access to these trails so close and readily.  If I have more time, I like to ride in Riverside State Park more, but you can't beat leaving the driveway and getting onto dirt in just a few minutes.

This trip was largely uneventful (unlike my prior trip with SSK2), so I suggested we make it a bit more interesting.  I suggested that it would be worthwhile to take the geared bikes we were riding and turn them into single speed bikes.  No, not really turn them into single speed bikes, but just pick a gear ratio and then leave them there no matter what may come.  It was a good way to preview the feeling of a single speed, including the concept of momentum, the need to stand on your pedals for more leverage as it gets steeper, the realistic need to climb off and walk sometimes, and the inevitable spinning out going downhill or on pavement (which you thought would not, could not ever happen since that damn gear was so large when you were going uphill).  So I proposed this to the guys to see their reaction.  They were game for it.

As we were sitting on the trail contemplating this process, it suddenly occurred to me that this might be a really, really bad idea.  Once the new bikes that are the focus of this blog so far were actually built and under us, I thought that the boys would a) love the new bikes and that would go a long way to making it all right no matter what; and b) I would drag them to places that were suitable for getting used to single speed bikes instead of dumping them onto good size hills.  Instead of that, I had the immediate sinking feeling that I was going to make single speed bikes a "bad" thing instead of a "good" thing in the month before we got them.  I had a vision of something like this, "Dad!  This is stupid.  I'm going to use my gears because I am going too slowly up hill or slowly down hill or . . . ", or maybe, "Why shouldn't I use the gears?  I'm just lugging them up/down this hill and why should I pretend they aren't there?"  You get the idea.

I am glad to report, however, that the kids took to it like ducks to water.  Like goose to goose shit.  Like mountain bikes to mud.  They dug it and they immediately got the way to make it work to their advantage and came away all the more excited about the prospect of their new bikes.  And that, as Martha would say, is a good thing.
Single Speed Dad

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