Cold Crank Challenge… The Single Speed Experiment

Racing in the dirt in December? Yep. Fort Rock has lots of rock, dirt, roots, and mud. Team NEMBA was out in full force. Gadway, Smith, DeVincent, and Orlowski all representing (by far the largest showing of any team). This was a mass start event with no branding of gender, ability, or equipment. People with 6″ travel bikes with body armor, single-speeds, even a guy on a CX bike.  Oh yeah, this was my first Single-Speed race too.

The course was a 3.5 mile short course with a two hour time limit. So if you came in under the 2 hour timeframe, you got to go out for another chance at taking glory. Course starts with a slight downhill right-hander and then a short moderate climb. This would help to space things out and bring the more racer type dudes to the front before the first major bottle neck. 9:00 race just above freezing and plenty of water in the soil from lack of evaporation this time of year. Roots and rocks were slick, bridges were the same. Lots of rocks and rock features to add difficulty. For the gearless among us there would be many run-up’s.

At the start I was about 8 to 10 spots behind the eventual race winner “Andy Gould”. Going into the first bottleneck uphill I would seat myself behind another SS guy (Mark Tucker) for much of the first two laps. I would screw up, then he would screw up. At the end of the 2nd lap Teammate Carl Devincent checked in behind me. Figured he was gaining on me, you know having suspension and gears and all. He went out of site at one point passing Tucker who I had been following.  This would change though as laps three and four I would settle in and just put power to pedal.  I passed Tucker, who was starting to fade. I then reeled in and passed Carl. Then I decided to take a right to go over a bridge to nowhere.  Carl says “Where you going?”  Damn!  wrong way.  Back on Carl’s wheel, and time to have some fun.  Full on sprint passing him on the gradual uphill on his right shoulder. Yelling at him “Ride Evil!” I had thoughts of clipping his bar like at the Horror in 2010.  Not this time though. Lap 4 I found myself all alone, and technically may have been my smoothest lap.  From that point on to the finish there would be nobody passing me.

Although there were no official categories I did place first in SS (note: Ryan Littlefield was geared today) and won a nice tune up from the folks at Exeter Cycles.

As for the single-speed thing.  I will definately do it again.  It’s hard as hell for sure. Hurts the hands, and joints.  I ran 20psi front and rear which helped a bit in the rough.  Bike performed flawlessly as always.



Cold Crank Challenge… The Single Speed Experiment — 7 Comments

  1. Nice ride Shawn. Any time you want to man up and ditch those gears and squish you just let me know, I can use all the help I can get chasing Ryan down.

    I posted up all the pics I could find of us airing out that rock drop…as well as a great one of Maz.

    Here is my report from my less than impressive day on the bike. But that bike was 15+ years old and the exact opposite of what I’m used to…so it is what it is. Still had a blast, mtb racing in dec?! come on!

  2. Having just one is so fun! Combine it with the rigid fork and you’ve got yourself a real challenge. There’s just something about a rigid bike. You feel so connected and in control (sometimes out of control). Had a blast hammering that thing around for 5 laps. Racing in December is cool. How long is this MTB season anyway?

    • lol how the heck are you supposed to read those results? I’m pretty sure that is ordered just by first split time and that is it…not actual results in order of final placing as far as I can tell anyway. Not that it matters for me I did horrible.

      and yes Greg that is a Y11. Running SS thanks to that old school ‘floating drivetrain’.

      It’s a blast to ride, just not on a race course at Fork Rock…

  3. Nice write-up. Linked to it from my blog. The three way battle was definitely pretty cool. Looking around at the start I was starting to feel left out since I wasn’t wearing a green NEMBA jersey.

    Notice how squished out those rear tires are in some of the jump landing photos. I had 23lbs but didn’t feel like I bottomed out.