LSD stands for Long, Slow Distance. It might be long, but there’s no way you can climb slowly when you’re out of the saddle, torque-ing the bars back and forth, practically ripping the cleats off your shoes with every pedal stroke. You just have to keep it rolling, not too slow, stay on top of the gear and off the brakes and really connect with the trail. Gearing dominates the trail, single-speeding succumbs to the trail.
I went out with the intention of riding long, and listening to my i-pod. The trails that skirt the ocean bluffs wink in and out of sunshine and fog. You ride all alone surrounded by a bubble of fog, and then roll up on a mesa that leads to a limitless horizon, and then you drop down again into an arroyo disappearing into the mist again. Stuff like that really opens up your helmet.
When I ride with gears, the speed ramps up and down with the terrain, but my exertion remains relatively constant. However, with just one gear my speed is pretty steady, but my efforts of huffing and puffing go up and down in tune with the trail.
I rolled into a friend. I paused the song, turned around, and rode with him for a while.
I stayed with him as long as I could. He wasn’t riding with the trail; he was merely riding on it. He had a geared bike. So I broke away. I pushed the play button again to find my song hadn’t missed a beat. Was there ever really an interruption?
It was a beautiful Sunday, so there were lots of hikers, riders, and equestrians on the trails. I started humming along loudly with the music before the blind corners. And luckily so because I rode into my next-door neighbor, also on a single speed.
I was already pretty worked. But again, I pushed the pause button and turned around to ride with him.
We rode together and pushed the climbs- he on an 18x32 and me on a 16x32. It’s really hard to be social with another one-speeder if they’re on a different gear. So, I’d ride away from him on the descents and he’d ride away from me on the steep climbs. Eventually, he peeled off.
He disappeared into the fog, and I hit the play button again.
I was back to where I was before.
The single speed rig makes a gift to you of momentum. Even without a proper dose of LSD, momentum reifies. It actualizes. It becomes as real as the dirt beneath your tires during a single speed ride, though it may make you question everything else. Like why am I riding this thing?