2014 Fools Gold Single Speed Race

Posted: September 20, 2014 by Mark in Uncategorized

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The Fools Gold NUE 100 mile race is in the record books.

I had a great race and love this event.  This year was extra special because Bob Moss also raced his Farnsworth Bicycles 29er single speed finishing 3rd in the single speed category and 13th overall.

I finished 10th and just squeaked under the wire with a time of 8:57. I am not sure what Bob’s time was but I know it was well under eight hours.

This is my 3rd time racing Fools Gold.  The prior two times I raced on an earlier 29er that I built with a suspension fork.

This year, I was racing on a new bike with a rigid fork.  This new bike includes changes that I feel help for rigid single speeding.  It is setup with a long top tube, short stem, wide bars, and fairly short chain stays.  The front tire is a 2.35″ at 19 psi to give me comfort without risking damage to my rims.  Both wheels use the new through axle standards and the head tube accepts a tapered fork.  The bottom bracket is the new PF30 standard to allow a modern crankset and better support for the bearings.  The frame is built with NOVA tubing using a 38mm down tube that includes a factory bend paired with their new 29er “S” bend chain stays.  A 70 degree head tube angle makes this bike a little more slack vs. the 71 degree setup I used last year.  Compared to my old frame, the new setup is also stiffer at the bottom bracket while still maintaining the smooth ride of a steel frame with 16mm seat stays.  The new bike is oriented around my personal riding style with a focus on distance oriented single speeding.

As a single speed rider, I do much of my serious climbing out of the saddle.  Compared to a geared rider my style of climbing is to mash so the bike geometry takes this into account.  The biggest thing people notice on my bike is the low and short “slammed” stem.   This setup works well with my style.  Geared riders spinning high cadence with low gear ratios would probably find that my setup would not climb well.  With a geared setup the bike might experience inadvertent front end lift from torque.  For single speeding when mashing front end lift is never a problem because I am out of the saddle and on the bars.

Where the long top tube really comes into play is when descending.  This bike is like a typical “medium” but built longer than many “large” frames.  The setup allows me to keep my weight back and use the length of the bike for stability on rough descents.  The short stem reduces the tendency for the bars to jump and the long bars mean that I have leverage to control them even at high speed on a trail full of roots.  At Fools Gold, I was descending faster on this bike vs. last year and also stayed fresher.   Even though I riding rigid, the stability of the bike meant that I was not working as hard to control it on rough stuff.  My upper body was relaxed and loose because I did not need to “death grip” to keep the bike going straight.

In terms of fitness, I had pretty good legs this year and kept my weight down. This gave me the confidence to run 32/20 gearing. Gear choice for a race is hard. Picking something light for the course is better than trying to ride something that is too hard. In hindsight, I sorta wish that I ran a tiny bit bigger gear but really the gear was pretty good so I don’t think it cost me anything.

The bike Bob was riding was a prototype frame that I built with a 69.5 degree head tube.  He is super strong and was running 36/20 gearing.  The frame has been on loan to him while we decide on the exact setup for his next race bike.  Feedback from Bob and others who tried the prototype bike was very positive.  At first, the plan was for him to use the prototype only in training.   Bob already had a separate dedicated “race” bike but after a few weeks of he decided that he wanted to race on the prototype.   I am building Bob’s dedicated “race” bike soon and really the only change we are planning is to bump the size up a little bit and build his new frame using Reynolds 853 tubing.  We may change the fork around a bit as well.

As you can expect given his performance, I am very excited about the sponsorship.

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