What Gear Do You Run?

This morning waiting at the first set of lights on the way into work a bloke on a red Ribble that had been converted to singlespeed came over for a chat. He was riding crosstown rather than into the city, but he was intrigued to know what gear I was running on the Harry Hall. The 50:16 ratio isn’t the key I assured him, it’s the fact that the bike has forward facing drop outs that give an inch or so of adjustment to the wheelbase and allow any slack in the chain to be taken up irrespective of gear.

His bike was running a singulator and it’s vertical dropouts didn’t give any adjustment. As I pointed out even if you could get a specific gear that allowed the chain to be run nicely, the chain always stretches anyway. The lights changed and we headed off in different directions. Approaching the penultimate set of lights something that doesn’t happen very often occurred. Someone cruised past me with a cheery ‘morning’. Cheeky! The spectacle of being overtaken by a slightly overweight bloke on a nondescript geared road bike who’s wearing some hideous three-quarter length grey and red lycra knickers was too much.

Don’t make any visible signs of effort, but wind up the gear. The speed picks up and I start reeling him in, but that 20m gap takes some time to diminish. I’m on his wheel at the next set of lights and just make it through as they change. Then a sign of weakness, as he crosses the junction he eases off and starts freewheeling. This is it. Engage attack mode. Find an extra few rpm and swing out and pass him using the now downhill section of tarmac to catapult me through the S curves taking a lot of speed into a very tight line through the corners.

Don’t look back. Keep the momentum and power up the short climb that follows. Plough through the next corner taking a wide fast sweeping line into the final straight. Feeling a bit short of breath, but hold that pace. Almost there. Slam on the brakes and take the sharp right off the road onto campus. Made it. Spin through the last few bits to the office building that signals an end to the race in. That was an interesting commute, but do i have to watch my back in future? Maybe Sheldon Brown was onto something with his helmet mounted rear-view mirrors.

Author: Cris Bloomfield

Usually mountain biking in the North.

2 thoughts on “What Gear Do You Run?”

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