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Spicy Dumpling
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9,723 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess General is the place to post this one. I think SS/Fixed would be a little biased;-)

I have an interesting problem. I'm registered and will be doing the mountain momma century in Virginia next weekend. 100 Miler with 13K+ feet of climbing over 9 climbs. I did this climb a couple of years ago and did ok but it was hard. I was also 20 lbs heavier and not in as good of shape.

Here's the problem, I've done 90% of my riding on my singlespeed this year. I've probably got 2k miles on it including a 5 day tour (Bike Virginia) and 4 centuries including one with 10k of climbing and probably 10-12 metrics. I live in a hilly area so I'm used to climbing. I finally got out my geared bike a couple of weeks ago to make sure it was ready. I seem to be more uncomfortable on the geared bike. I can do 100 on the SS and feel fresh at the end. I did 60 on the geared bike today and my legs hurt and I'm more tired. I think that my legs and body are used to standing and grunting instead of the sitting I do on the geared bike. I know I can just force myself to stand on the geared bike but I still tend to sit more. But if I take the singlespeed I'm committed and don't have a bailout gear.

Am I crazy to consider just dropping the gearing a bit and do the century on the Singlespeed since I just feel better. I'm currently running a 44/18, I'm thinking of dropping to a 39/17 (I have the parts and I can just shorten my chain) and giving it a go. Most of the climbs are about 3-4 miles at 7-8 percent. You are either climbing or descending so it shouldn't hurt me much on the flats. :eek:ut:
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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9,723 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I don't think it is fit. They are both 55 Lemonds measured after a pro fitting. I think it's just that my muscles are setup for singlespeeding and standing after doing 90% of my riding on the SS. My legs are sorer than they've been all year after today's 60 mile geared ride.
 

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sometimereader
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1,202 Posts
I had never done SS (not counting an old balloon tired bike I had in my youth) before, but tried an experiment today on my regular triple crank bike - treat it as a single speed. This was on a fairly flat 60 mile ride.

So I put it in my 39/14. I got over 30 miles before I gave up and went back to shifting. I guess the 39/14 was too high a choice to use (it's substantially higher than your 44/18), but I was ignorant. Even so, the downhills (and even down winds) were aggravating - as I spun out at about 26 mph. I quit my attempt when I hit some steep (albeit short) pitches that I would have had to walk if I didn't shift.

My suggestion for you: use your geared bike, but treat it as much like a SS as you can. Of course, the fact that it has a freewheel means that it can't duplicate the fixed experience (I would never go fixed - I'm a confirmed coaster, as someone else posted recently). Still, if spinning at high rates or grinding at incredibly low cadence is your preference, you ought to be able to come pretty close on your geared bike - and still have options to fall back to when needed.
 

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hello
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3,395 Posts
I'm pretty sure you can do it. I run 44x18 on my dedicated SS and feel comfortable on long hilly rides. I've also walked on the steepest portions of some of the century and double century rides I've done on SS and fixed.. I did not want to gear my ride just so I can make it up the steepest portions. Walking a couple of hundred yards was part of my ride plan judging from the ride profiles.
 

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Premium Member
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10,106 Posts
I saw someone riding a fixie on the Mountains of Misery. For about 40 miles, he would pass me on the climbs and I would pass him on the descents. I lost track of him before we hit the final climb, but he seemed to be doing OK. Although I never have ridden the Mountain Momma, the terrain looks a lot like the MofM. I would go for it on the fixie.
 

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hello
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3,395 Posts
If going with a single gear which involves a lot of long descents I much prefer the single speed over fixed.......you'll be able to keep up with the roadies. :D
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm planning on Singlespeeding not Fixed. The profile is a sawtooth, up-down-up-down almost no flats. I'm not new to the Singlespeed century thing, I've probably got about 20 under my belt. But the most climbing on them has been about 10000 feet on the Artie Levin century and Central Va Bike Fest Centuries in VA. I've done them singlespeed the last two years. This century has more climbing that is a bit steeper but CVBF had a 13 mile 5% climb with a few miles around 9%. I actually did that faster than I do on my geared bike most of the time. I'm thinking I may just go for it and bail to the 68 mile route if I'm having problems.
 

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Just Riding Along
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1,024 Posts
There's no legitimate reason I can fathom for a geared bike causing you to hurt more than a single speed bike or for the fit not to be good. However, I'm sure it's possible that the feel of the ss is different and you may like it.

I ride a fixed gear (46/17) and really like the feel of the bike (it's steel, vs. carbon for the geared bike and its definitely different.)

Your gearing choices are 66 and 62 gear inches (mine is 73). Yours are equivalent to 39/16 and 39/17; mine is slightly lower than 39/14.) I think you're right to choose single speed over fixed for the ride. However, no long ride I've done with that degree of climbing has grades low enough for me to run even your lower gearing. Those rides had other riders on fixed gears; they inevitably walked, even the very fit ones, on those long climbs with 10 - 13% grades.

It's too late to go back and watch the mountain stages of TdF. Those pros use their gears. They're all grinding up those mountains (which tend to have lesser grades than eastern US mountain roads) in their 39/23.

It's definitely an accomplishment to do a long ride in fixed/ss, even more so if it's hilly. There's no question that it's harder, particulary fixed. I am be very cautious about long climbs at higher grades. With my gearing, a couple of hundred feet at 6% leaves my legs pretty spent but recoverable (typical rolling terrain near me.) I'd never consider the fixed for a ride with mountains (even east coast faux mountains), or for that matter, for any long ride in the area I live; it's too hilly; from home, I only ride the fixed locally.

YMMV
 

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Spicy Dumpling
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9,723 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm sticking with my 44/18 and just going to take it easy. I'm comfortable with that gear and it will work on the flats. I've done quite a few centuries with a lot of climbing, just not quite as much as this one. One local century has 10K feet and includes thunder ridge on the parkway which is 5-6% over 13 miles with 2-3 miles at around 8-9% and I've not had a lot of trouble with that climb in the past. I have done 2-3 mile 8% climbs on other rides without a lot of problems.

As for the bikes it's probably mental for the most part. But I am having problems with the saddle fit on the geared bike since losing weight. I don't think this is the time to try a new saddle so I'm going to go singlespeed. I have a bailout at the 50 mile mark if I'm toasted.

But I'm planning on finishing.
 
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