No, it wasn’t some sort of Viagra induced medical nightmare, I just finished up my first full weekend of riding on a new rigid single speed. My road bike was stolen a while ago and I needed a replacement commuter bike. I’ve been using my Titus for commuting but the fork has been slowly bleeding out over the last few months and the 8 mile commute on a full suspension bike is a bit much. So I sold a Giant AC2 I had sitting in my garage and with the proceeds I bought a Redline Monocog 29er. So while my Titus is down, I’m going to be a single speed only guy. This weekend (Jan 27-28th) was my first real trial on the trails and it was quite the initiation.
On Saturday, we headed to Bullards Bar which is almost to Downieville. I’d never been there before and was a bit worried about trying a new bike out on an unknown trail. Turns out that Bullards Bar is the perfect place to take a single speed bike. The trails at Bullards are comprised primarily of smooth rolling hills with only a couple of large climbs. I managed to ride up all the climbs except a few short sections of 7 Ball trail where I was forced to get off and push. We rode 28 miles at Bullards including a few miles of road but overall it was A+ riding and I was able to keep up with our group for pretty much the entire day.
We celebrated Steve’s (Big Boulder on MTBR) birthday at his place and I spent the night there and rode in Auburn on Sunday. Auburn it turns out is quite good for Single Speeding as well. Of particular mention is the Connector Trail which is absolutely awesome on a single speed. I was worried about the Culvert Trail and Confluence, but it turned out it wasn’t so bad. Culvert trail was a rough ride and really jars your teeth. Confluence on the other hand seemed to flow fairly well. I found the big 29″ wheels did a lot to compensate for the lack of suspension. Lots of the smaller rocks and bumps just get sucked up and you wind up floating over a lot of the big stuff. The rigid bike definitely added to the challenge factor but I think I rode just as fast in Auburn as I usually do.
So after about 45 miles of trails with one gear and no travel, I declare the my single speed experiment a complete success. I’m a bit surprised because coming into this I was skeptical and worried I would be too beat up and sore to really enjoy the riding. Instead while the riding was a bit more challenging, it also ramped up the fun factor a bit on these trails. We’ll see how it fares on more technical trails where the suspension sucks up a lot more punishment but, right now I am damned near sold on the entire SS/ rigid concept.
I’ll be uploading some KML files and a few pictures from this weekend a little later and will update this post.