Whatever else single speed cycling is, it often shows only your weaknesses. You spin like a madman to cover the flat distances and can’t quite maintain a cadence. You go anaerobic on steep inclines and walk.
But single speed cycling also gives back. Its praise honest. No distractions of gearing options and false optimism.
There are trails which don’t change. Or at least, they ascend at an angle which won’t change appreciably within my lifetime. A few months ago, the main climb of my local trail had me wondering about age, flagging strength and whether it might be time to change some gearing. I could do the work, but needed to loop out and pause to regain my breath, stop on the bridge to take a moment of recovery. Rode the whole thing out of the saddle at sort of an ugly, diesel-esque cadence, momentum hard to come by.
But last night, I nipped out as the sun set and ran the trails. Miles have been a bit hard to come by this month, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. But, I stayed seated and found power, raised out of the saddle and had the odd feeling of accelleration. In short, it felt fast, clean, good.
And therein lies the beauty of the single gear. Same gearing. Same trails. Some honest and direct feedback.
That tenuous feeling of grace. One of the reasons we ride.