King City SS. It sounds like the name of a disco group.
I raced this week’s King Series on my single speed. It was awesome.
After I bought my single speed last year, it waited for me in my garage, lonely and unridden, for almost two months. Plainly put, I was scared to ride it. I was unsure of my abilities and thought it was going to be a horrible experience, so I let it be until the ideal opportunity arose. Now, I look back on that time as “The Idiot Months” because I. Love. Riding. A. Single. Speed. Let me say it again: ILOVERIDINGASINGLESPEED!
I did the same thing this year at the King Series. I didn’t ride my single speed because I was scared. Pfft. So I brought two bikes to each King race–my geared Norco Revolver and my single speed Cannondale Trail SL. I chickened out at the last minute each time, and rode my geared bike. What a dummy. Okay, it was probably a good thing last week because the climbs were killers, but every other race would have been a sublime experience. Sometimes, I almost prefer my fully rigid (with a very unforgiving aluminium fork) $700 single speed to my carbon frame, XT componented, sweetly forked, geared bike. Shhhhh, don’t tell my bikes.
In truth, I couldn’t pick a favourite bike any more than, I could pick a favourite child, but each has a definite purpose and distinct joy (I’m talking about my bikes here, not my kids) and I really dig my single speed at the moment.
After the race, I thought “Why on earth would I choose to ride a single speed?”. I realized “Because I can”.
And I did. I powered up the short climbs, and ripped through the twisted maze of trails at Centennial Park in King City. My placing was better than usual, my pace was perfect, and everything else about my performance felt awesome…
I usually follow statements like that with “…for me.” Not this time. I don’t know whether it’s the benefits of riding a single speed, or just a product of natural progression, but I feel more like a racer than ever these days.
And it’s awesomer than awesome. It’s the awesomest
Race Report: King Weekly Series: June 27, 2016
There were only 17 riders, and many of the heavies stayed home. Pfft.
I placed 7/17 overall, and 2/3 in the Master Men category.
So, not a huge field of competition, but every race is different.
I had an all-too-short warm up, but started strong. Mid pack. I wasn’t sure if I could maintain the quick initial burst of the race without higher gears, so I triple pedalled to keep up, and I managed to hold steady.
Once again, it was an awesome course. I don’t know how the organizer, Jamie Davies of Evolution Cycles, pulls these courses together so well, but week after week, they are ridiculously cool.
I caught a usually strong rider in the first lap, and passed him, which is a rare move for me. However, there was someone close on my tail, and I knew I had to keep up the pace in order to stay ahead.
And that’s when one of the joys of mountain biking happened. We chatted. In the middle of a race, through laboured grunts and puffs, around trees, and over roots and rocks, we talked about the awesome time we were having. His name was Stephen, and after about a lap, he flew past me. I didn’t catch him again. After the race, we introduced ourselves to one another. I asked why he spent so much time behind me when he was so much faster. He said he was pacing himself. Hmmm. That word again. Pacing.
I booked it through the rest of the race. Then, in the last few hundred metres I caught sight of a rider’s movement far ahead. Time to sprint. He was tough to catch, but I made across the line about a second behind him. Sweet.
The King Series is such a great way to spend a Tuesday evening.
There was even a Team Colin hat as a spot prize. Boom.
The morning after the race, the organizer, Jamie Davies, posted pictures from the prior week. Four were of me. One of them is at the top of this post. Looking at them, I had a bunch of mixed feelings. I posted an album of the four shots on Facebook, with this:
I see pictures of me on a bike, and three things come to mind. First, I still can’t believe I race a mountain bike. That’s just effing awesome. Second, I look like a giant compared to the other riders. Third, damn, I have to do something about that belly. Seriously, I’m on my bike two or three times a week, but still, I compress like a giant salami…
Salami or not, I’m on a roll.
PS. The day after the race, I rode to school with my kids, and I realized something. My idea of pacing was borne out of riding through busy streets in Scarborough when I was younger. I would book it to the traffic light, always giving 100%, trying not to get hit by a car, catch my breath while the light changed, book it to the next light, and repeat. That wasn’t pacing, it was survival. But it carried over, and now I spend much of my time in races doing the same damn thing. Stephen didn’t, and I’m learning.