- Mount Wilkinson 5/18/2017
- Pigeon Mountain Summit 6/3/2017
- Glenn Gap 6/10/2017
- Fouche Gap 6/10/2017
- Pine Mountain 6/20/2017
- Kennesaw Mountain 6/20/2017
- Chilhowee Mountain 7/8/2017
- Chilhowee Mountain 7/15/2017
- Fort Mountain 7/22/2017
- Ray’s Gap 7/28/2017
- Braswell Mountain 8/4/2017
- Kennesaw Mountain 11/13/2017
- 3/11/2017 – 3 hours of Paynes Creek
- 4/15/2017 – Blankets Creek 15/30
- 5/13/2017 – 3 hours Fort Yargo
- 9/30/2017 – Big Ring Challenge
- 10/14/2017 – All-A-Toona Voodoo Mountain Bike Race
- 2/25/2017 – Assault on Mt. Currahee
- 3/4/2017 – Southern Cross
- 4/8/2017 – Skyway Epic 60
- 4/22/2017 – Shake ‘n’ Brake
- 4/29/2017 – Big Frog 65
- 8/19/2017 – Red Clay Ramble
- 9/17/2017 – Fools Gold 60
- 10/21/2017 – Standard Deluxe Dirt Road Century
- 11/4/2017 – Sac o’ Suds 50
- 11/18/2017 – Sasquatch 125
- 12/2/2017 – Cohutta Death March Revival
1. Allroad bike, Diamondback Haanjo Comp. This is my bike, I ride it the most and it’s the only bike equipped for rain and carrying things. It could be better at both those things but my tastes and use-case were still evolving when I bought it so some of the things are a little kludge-y but they work fine and it’s fun to ride. Handles up to moderate/severe gravel just fine on 32s balloned out to 36/37s on 28mm rims. Fast as I need on the road, comfortable but a little stiff sometimes. I can ride for 10 hours and have nothing but slightly sore and tired legs.
2. Mountain bike, Raleigh Tekoa Comp. For me, mountain bike racing is the ultimate experience. The speed is addictive and the mental skills needed to perform well add endless depth to an intrinsically enjoyable activity. My raleigh is a dyed-in-the-wool racing bike. Just stiff enough, just enough clearance and speed speed speed. I’ll keep riding it until the frame fails.
3. Allgravel bike, Charge Hi-29er. A portion of the gravel races in Georgia and near-Georgia grew out of mountain bike races and often feature 50/50 singletrack/gravel with significant elevation changes. A mountain bike is a blast on singletrack but kind of a drag on gravel. A drop-bar mountainbike is a blast on both! This is the racer I ride for things like Southern Cross, Big Frog 65, Fools Gold, etc. Anytime there’s gravel and lots of descending this bike excels. I think the fork is shot but it’s still workable for now. Steel frame and 29″ wheels are great, the bike reminds me of those Russian racing trucks. It takes a lot of horsepower to stay on top of it but the reward is extreme capability and ridiculous descending speed.
4. Gravel road bike, Soma Double Cross Disc. For those flatter and smoother gravel races. This bike fits in perfectly on a fast, tight paceline roaring over dusty gravel roads. Lots of planing with the frame and square taper cranks/bb, sometimes it feels like the bike is just pedaling itself. This bike is getting flared drops for the next season, should make a really good bike even better.
I saw this thread over at paceline and had a laugh. It’s funny but it made me think of how someone with a dozen of the same bike will never proselytize how great it is – whereas the guy with one bike will always let you know. I’ve been on more than one group ride where someone’s mentioned unprompted “oh this is my only bike” and I always wonder what response they expect?
Condescending articles about only having a single bike are a staple bike blog rotational and they’re never very good. If the byline doesn’t say “Jobst Brandt” no one cares that you only have one bike.
Having one bike kinda sucks anyway. It usually means someone is only interested in one form of cycling. Instead it’s wrapped up in this rebellious take on modern conspicuous consumption while simultaneously trying to crib some status from the minimalist movement. If they’re not in it for the paycheck, or Japanese, most of those minimalism guys are fighting some form of mild mental illness. It’s not 600 hours riding a bike per year or anything but it’s there for sure.
Anyway, some dude was telling me about his one bike after a group ride while changing to get into his Volvo and drive back home. I had to ride my bike back to my apartment so I left without hearing what his point was but it seemed like it was going to be kind of thin at the time.
This whole post is just an exercise in nostalgia wrapped in post-modern angst. I loved only having one bike, because I didn’t know any better. I spent around $700 and several dozen hours tracking down used parts, stripping paint, waiting for cheap spray paint to dry, fixing stupid installation errors and all sorts of other beginner mistakes to end up with a converted fixed gear hung with bottom of the barrel parts. Which I then road the fuck out of until I cracked the bottom bracket jumping over a curb at 22 miles an hour during an alleycat race in Jacksonville. I didn’t even notice at the time and went on to finish the race pretty respectably and had an absolute blast.
I didn’t have a job or any other money so this was my bike and my only bike for a long time. It was an awesome bike. How did it handle? I don’t know like a bike I guess. Did it plane? I didn’t know what that was. How much trail did it have? I don’t know the catalog scan I found didn’t say and I didn’t know anything about trail anyway. How much did it weigh? I don’t know but it was lighter than the touring bike I rode previously.
All I knew was that I could get on it everyday and just pedal and pedal. Everything worked and it was fun to ride and all I needed to do was oil the chain every now and again. It didn’t have fenders so when it rained I’d hang out with my mom or my girlfriend or my siblings. It was kinda a drag to do a lot of climbing so I’d route flat routes around Gwinnett county into the country where I could ride for hours without seeing a car.
One time I rode a century from my house in Lawrenceville to the outskirts of Athens. That was a lot of fun. Oh and another time I won this alleycat race in Atlanta. 2012 peachtree bash, I just remember absolute speed. Everything a blur with tunnel vision blasting through the urban core of Atlanta to Buckhead and back. I won something like $120? It was amazing and really ignited a fire for competition that’s still going.
I think I sort of had a point when I started but now I just miss the freedom that only having one bike brings. It was so easy, one bike I only ride on the road when it’s dry. That’s it, no inventory of parts for multiple race machines, no obsessing over tire rolling resistance or pressure or tread, no geometry charts, no constant Instagram newness making me unsatisfied with the things I already own, just riding around on my fixed gear having fun.
It’s been a long time since I had any cycling goals. So easy to set a ceiling and once hit continually venture only as high as you’ve already been.
I’ve done that this year, so far.
I did it last year.
I mean, I plan rides in new places and have had a ton of new experiences racing my mountain bike and gravel bikes around the Southeast but it’s been a long time since I set out to work towards and complete a goal that isn’t just a spur of the moment Saturday morning ride.
In 2015 I had a few goals. I rode a 200k and was on my way to a 300k when the seasons changed and I ran out of motivation.
In 2014 I was racing at the track and it was more fun than anything else. I did a few centuries and a lot of the Dunwoody Cycling Saturday ride.
2013 I wanted to be a road racer. I raced as much as I could afford and worked very hard to race well. It didn’t pan out but it was fun and made me feel accomplished at the end of the season.
2012 my goal was to ride a fixed gear century. I failed the first time but succeeded the second. Creeping out of my mom’s house at 5am and riding along the quiet Sunday hours to the outskirts of Athens, GA. Later I wanted to win an alleycat, which I did twice. The Peachtree Bash and the Black Cat Alleycat. The former is on of my most cherished experiences.
2011 I started cycling. First I just wanted to ride more than 5 miles. Then I wanted to ride from my duplex to the restaurant I worked at – a special place where I made friends and grew so much. 24 miles round trip, felt like a huge accomplishment at the time. Later I wanted to ride 40 miles, after that a metric century but I think that didn’t happen until 2012.
This is the most perfect race I’ve ever done.
I got dropped early but quickly joined a chasing trio. We rotated well and kept the pace high, at the first aid station we all stopped to pee and refill water. About 6-7 riders came in just after us and eventually we all got together and kept the same high pace. Lots of rotation and regrouping – southeast riders can be very polite and hardworking.
As we moved through the dusty countryside the pace pushed higher and higher and riders dropped as exhaustion and mental fatigue set in.
Riding in a fast paceline on unknown gravel roads creates a hyper focus – it’s a rush and completely fills my mind. There is no time to focus on anything other than the road 15-20 meters ahead. I eat, I pedal and I rotate through with strong pulls.
Eventually we hit pavement. The rush recedes and suddenly we’re all just pedaling along – confusion sets in and there is some crowding and back and forth rotations as everyone tries to square their different bikes and tires and strengths. Eventually we all calm down and the rotations begin again.
Thinking back now, 2 weeks removed from the event, this reminds me of having an injury break in the middle of a wrestling match. High school wrestling is an absurd sport and this is no more obvious than when the pause button is hit and I’m just standing there in a tiny lycra singlet while the other guy gets his bleeding nose stopped with tiny cylinders of cotton.
For the previous 3 minutes we’ve been locked in combat. Arms, legs, heads and bodies attacking, defending with hearts pounding away. Suddenly a spot of blood appears on the mat and multiple whistles are blown. The hands of the ref, shockingly strong, pull us apart and my bleeding opponent kneels in place as his injury is attended to. I stand there and can only really hear my heart beating. Everything takes a crystal focus. I feel like I can see every single face in the stands at once. My dad yelling encouragement in the stands as my coach paces back and forth showing support with a diminutive thumbs up and some clapping. My mind is running so fast and I’m only along for the ride, the break only takes a minute or two but it feels like an eternity. Wrestling cleared my mind and now I’m noticing everything that had been turned off. I’m cold and tired and hungry and angry and ready to get back to wrestling. I’ve worn down my opponent and he doesn’t deserve any rest now so close to his edge. Shortly the ref guides us back to the center and we resume, everything gets shut off again and I feel at home.
Anyway, the pavement section is fast and a little boring. We blast along rolling hills and I look around and note the other bikes. I see a 650b Open Up with slick tread WTB Horizon tires, another a Felt that is some sort of monstercross rig with 60mm G-One tires. Mostly the other riders are on cross bikes with mildly aggressive 38mm-44mm tires, like my bike but theirs are either carbon of aluminum. That’s ok, I like my wiggly steel Soma – it’s skinny tubes look nice and it rides so well.
We reel in a few more riders and the group is eating and happy and moving along. Shortly we hit gravel and the knives come back out. The strength differences become apparent after each rider takes a few pulls. The weaker riders are slowly discarded as the pace picks up incrementally. I dig in my dwindling reserves and try my hardest to maintain the pace when I hit the front and there’s an uphill. It’s uncouth to drive the pace from the front on the flats or downhills – just a waste of energy and I’ll get caught anyway.
But when the road turns up, that’s where I can attack. Keep it quiet and non-obvious. A little bit faster here, keep the cadence normal but pedal hard. Riders behind will unconsciously keep up and with each 20-30 second climb they get pushed closer and closer to the edge.
Miles tick by, the gravel goes from grey to white to red to orange back to red and we get closer to the finish. I keep one eye on my GPS and watch the miles go by, the other is on the remaining group members. There are five of use now, they are all strong and the friendliness and comport have left. We’re riding the ragged edge of exhaustion. Mental and physical fatigue are intense and slowly grinding down our will to continue. We are close to the finish, less than 2 kilometers now. Intermingled with the short course riders I surge over the remaining hills. In the drops climbing out of the saddle but crouched low. The gravel rumbles under my tires. Our group is still together but spread out, attacks come and go – no one has enough energy to pull more than a few bike lengths ahead. I am metering out my efforts as well as I can, I have hardly anything left by the time we hit the wooden bridge that signals the last few hundred meters.
The group is still together, a ragged sail of five riders crouched over their machines breathing fire amid the dusty heat of the day. We are seconds from finishing, ending the pain and falling into the grass exhausted. The group is fluid, posturing and threatening attacks when something explodes in my head. I grip the drops as if to crush them and stomp the pedals, attack so none can follow, blasting ahead I leave the group behind. Bouncing and skittering over the broken pavement I am alone at the top of the hill. I drop my head and coast through the finish line. People are hanging out, mingling with smiles and cold beers. Music drifts through the air chasing laughter and the smell of a well run grill. The instant change of atmosphere is surreal and underlines the absurdity of the experience.
This is a used 23t 9 speed cog compared to a new 23t 9 speed cog. It has “10,000 miles” in the sense that it was part of a cassette that had 10,000 miles ridden on it but the actual cog itself – who knows? A lot of miles for sure but exactitude is not really needed.
I wanted to show the peening on the trailing edge as well as overall thinness of the teeth that occurs from use.