As a rookie singlespeeder, I sometimes fret a little over gear choice. Though a 32×20 will get you through just about anything, a 32×21 has been my gear of choice for the Breck 100 and most rides at Syllamo. Though the terrain in those races is vastly different- long climbs at >10k feet vs. short, steep sea level climbs, the lower gear seems to work out well (especially at Syllamo, where there are very few places where you can spin out).
At Cohutta, the 32×20 worked well, though if I’m more fit next year, I might bump down to a 19t so I can keep the pace up on the flat spots (same song for SM100- the 32×20 was great last year on the climbs, but the long flat pavement section was monotonous). I’m sticking to the 21t for Syllamo, but Mohican? Uh… I’m not really sure. I DNFd last year with geared-bike mechanical issues- a blessing in disguise since I also cracked the Air9 frame and decided to say “to hell with gears” and warranty it with a One9. The course is generally rolling, but has some short, steep spots, so I’m not totally certain of what to do. Same for ORAMM.
Wait… did you just say ORAMM?
Yes, the fact that I’m even considering it must mean that last year’s ORAMM was apparently a pain similar to childbirth. For the uninformed: I knew that the weekend following the Breck 100, I’d either have “awesome superstar legs,” or I’d be a total lump of sh*t. Surprise- it’s wasn’t what I was hoping for. During the race, I dislocated my thumb around mile 20something. It forced me to decide between painfully slow descending or fast and excruciatingly painful descending. If any of you vultures who hung out at the “people will probably wreck here” spots and thought you heard sobbing as I passed by, yes, you heard correctly. About halfway up Curtis Creek, I started having lower back pain. Lots of back pain. I’ve figured out now that as convenient as it is, I just can’t wear a hydration pack of any style. I’ve tried the traditional style pack, the Wingnut, and the Camelbak LR, and all of them, at some point, will make my back hurt. To cap off my ORAMM experience, I started to massively cramp just before the last climb up Kitsuma. Worst cramps of my life, in fact.I swore the race off forever.
Fast forward to this year. I’m working at the Outdoors Inc bike shop. We’re kicking ass and taking names. There’s no way, in my current role at the shop, that I can take 3 weeks of summer to gallivant around New Mexico and Colorado. Yes, I could probably make it a short trip where I arrive, race within 24 hours, then go home a day or two later, but that’d be pretty lame. So, the Breck 100 is on hold until I’m either A) Pro enough that I don’t need to work in a shop, or B) Ryan gets a fat raise at work and I don’t need to work in a shop. ORAMM, which is July 24th, is looking like an attractive option. I’ve obviously forgotten how bad it hurt last year and/or figured that since that was officially the “worst race of my life” that it couldn’t really get worse short of me leaving the course in an ambulance.
So, I guess the point of all this is that I’m trying to decide what gear I’ll use for Mohican and ORAMM. It’s not easy to go off of advice that others give, so I’ll likely just decide at the last minute and spend half of the race cursing my decision (which half will be determined by whether I choose too hard or too easy of a gear). Then there’s the rigid vs. suspension thing… who knew that singlespeed riding could be so complicated?
Finally, I’ve now got a gaping hole in my race schedule from Mohican (6/4) ’til ORAMM (7/24). Race suggestions (must be weekend-trip-able) are more than welcome.