A week into my singlespeed experiment, I was staring at the minimalist drivetrain on my Stumpjumper while removing my shoes a couple of days ago. How would I explain this behavior when confronted with the question my wife had already asked: “Why would you take the gears off your bike?”
I was partially motivated by the lure of increasing strength, and minimizing bike maintenance during the season of sloppy springtime commutes. But mainly, I felt like I should expand my horizons by sampling the singlespeed subculture. Mountain biking is the closest thing I have to a religion, and I’m interested in all of its various factions.
In the Church of Cycling, singlespeeders are the fundamentalists. You see, fundamentalism has been described as “strict maintenance of ancient of fundamental doctrines of any religion or ideology.” And what could be more ancient and fundamental than a bike with only one gear?
Most SS riders are devoted to the cause. They often hold their own races and festivals, separate from those of us in the multi-geared world. They proselytize. They are definitely a nonconformist sect. Heretics, if you will.
In the interest of solidarity and self-improvement, I have opted to dabble in their unorthodox practices. But I remain orthodox at heart.