dumb \ ˈdəm
: lacking intelligence : stupid
This past weekend my buddy somehow talked me into riding a gravel race of 71 miles with 7,000 feet of climbing on single speeds. Um, but the event did not have a single speed division. So we signed up for our age group. We normally ride a gear ratio of around 42x16 around Raleigh, so with that much climbing, we decided we would run a ratio of 42x19.
Now there's nothing smart about running single speeds. Regardless of how much time and energy and thinking you do with choosing a gear ratio for a ride, it's inevitable that the gear you pick is going to suck at some point along the ride. This ride was no different. At times, I wished I had a 42x15 and other times I wished I had a 42x42, especially on the Whetstone Mountain climb: a 1 mile ascent at an average gradient of 7% with a max of 11%. This climb was hard. There was a hard left-hand turn to get started so no room for a run-in, essentially starting from a dead stop. It's a tough climb even if it were earlier in the ride, but it started 44 miles in and it was sooooo hot that day.
The day was full of cramps and grueling climbs. Bill and I expected a finishing time of between 5 and 6 hours and if we finished under 5 hours, we would be happy. We finished with a time of 4:46:42.1 & .2, so we where thrilled with the result, though I think we were more thrilled that we were done riding. Some of those downhills were as sketchy as the climbs were grueling. Our buddy Dave was smart enough to bring a geared bicycle. He always was the smart one.
Back in 1994, I bought my first Cannondale: a Delta V1000. Anyway, Tinker Juarez was a mountain bike rider for Cannondale for several years in and around those years. I still had a couple brochures from those years, so when I found out Tinker was going to be at the race, I decided to take the two where he was on the cover and see if I could find him to get an autograph. He was a super cool dude and even offered to take a photo with me!
Overall, it was a dumb decision, but I'm glad we did it. Scratch that. I'm glad it's over!
Before we suffered:
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