I'm one week away from riding 173 miles of mountains on my single-speed city bike, all in the name of Child Abuse Intervention. The Courage Classic is a ride I've done threetimesbefore, but always with derailleurs. I made the single-speed commitment as a challenge to myself, but also as a challenge to you, the donor.
I've revised my fundraising goal to $2000 and will be matching any donation made between now and August 8 by 10%. Even if you can only contribute $10, I'll donate $1 more and all $11 will go directly to supporting services that help to Stop the Cycle of Child Abuse in Pierce County. You can donate here.
Meanwhile, I've been training with the Harmon Bike Club, leading 20-25 mile rides around Tacoma on my single-speed. In an effort to find a more comfortable riding position, I've tried several different handlebars over the last few weeks, including a flat bar with bar-ends and even a bmx bar. They all had their pros and cons. Ultimately, I'm back where I started. So the bike looks like this:
The rear rack is gone, but it doesn't feel any lighter! It's geared 36x18 (54 gear inches) on the freewheel side of the flipflop hub, but my "bail-out" gear on the fixed side is 36x22 (44 gear inches). If it simply gets too steep, I can flip the wheel around and ride the low-geared fixed side to the top. I've tested it out on Carr Hill, one of the steepest climbs in town, and it worked well.
If you've read along this far and haven't donated, head over here and contribute what you can. It will only take a minute.
With the Courage Classic just a month away, I've started wrapping my mind around the fact that I'm going to ride 170 miles, over the mountains, on one gear. For my training rides around Tacoma, I've been riding 36x18, which is about 54 gear inches.
Depending on how you ride, this gear might seem too small,
or too big.
I think this gear will give me the best range for climbing the hills, cruising the flats, and pedaling into the headwinds on the descents.
As a back-up plan, I will likely thread a 20T freewheel on the other side of my fixed/free flip-flop hub. That way I can just flip the wheel around and have an easier gear for the climbs if I simply cannot turn the cranks. The rear brake may have to be left open for this to work, but I can then flip the wheel back to the 18T side when I reach the summits. I hope to do the whole ride without flipping the wheel, but I'm just not sure which one gear I need.
Any thoughts? Have you done a mountainous road ride with one gear?
During a visit to Tulsa last week, my sister and I checked out the Tulsa Townies bike share program. The program was started by one of the local hospitals and allows users to check-out a cruiser bike for free from any of four stations along the River Parks Trail. Bicycling Magazine has even listed Tulsa as one of their top-50 bike friendly cities because they have this program.
We started at the southern-most station, which happens to be located next to a Trek bike shop. There were no bikes in the rack and no signs telling us that there were supposed to be any bikes. It was a sunny, hot day and, thinking that the bikes must be in use, we DROVE five miles to the next station along the trail to find some more. The trail is fully visible from Riverside Drive, and while we did see a handfull of bronzed recreational cyclists and a family of bikes along the way, there were no pink townies.
The second station looked like this:
There were 13 empty locks on these racks. For a city of half a million people, there are (were?) maybe 50 townies floating around the city. Knowing this and craving a bike ride, we pressed on to the third station...
Success! There were two bikes in the rack, perfectly sized for me and my sister.
Here's where the frustration set in. Bike #1 could not be removed because of "Card Error". We tried two different credit cards and received the same message. And Bike #2? "Bike Not In Inventory." Apparently there is a system upgrade coming soon to the Tulsa Townies program. It obviously needs it.
Looking to cut our losses, we drove in to the ghost-town that is downtown Tulsa on a Sunday, in search of something to make this car journey worthwhile. We stumbled upon Dwelling Spaces, an oasis with a decent coffee bar and gift shop with bike-Tulsa themed T's and stuff, as well as left-over jerseys and cowbells from the recent Tulsa Tough bike races. After talking with the baristas, is sounds like there certainly some enthusiasm for bikes in Tulsa. Hopefully it will be more apparent to us on our next trip.