28 July 2012

Seattle Century on a fixed gear

I have a dream… or rather prior to today I had a dream. In that dream I could ride my fixed gear bike as long as I wanted. Over hill and over dale for miles and miles into the sunset I would ride all the while comfortably spinning like a madman.

So like an idiot I invited Jeff Reed to join me on the Seattle Century and suggested that we ride single speed bikes. I was feeling pretty macho since I had completed this ride last year on my single speed… Jeff replied, "Sure! How about we ride fixed gears?"


It seems I just got one-upped. Oh well, if you make your bed you need to lie in it so I agreed. Did I mention I was recovering from a wicked saddle sore? Whatever. Go!


Joining Jeff and I was teammate Tony Bravetti on his geared bike. At least I had one person to keep me company in my misery. :)

Let me start by saying that this ride rocks. It's close to home (I was able to ride to the start), there is free food at the start, it's well supported meaning you never go more than 15 miles before you come to an aid station and the time of year is optimal meaning it's almost always warm and dry. Top it off with an AMAZING post-ride meal of grilled salmon and roasted asparagus (all you can eat) and beer/wine (all you can drink!) and I guess that's why I have been here four times in a row.

Turns out Jeff and I had a common goal - only eat ride food. Every year I get totally sick of all the sweet, processed specialty food products like bars and gels and so today we vowed to only eat what they had at the aid stations. I kinda goofed by bringing bottles filled with a fancy drink but I did not feel like dumping out the contents. In spirit I was right there with Jeff. And in practice it's why I had 'real' food at the start.

Unlike some of the more serious recreational rides in the NW this one is open and doable by pretty much all comers. Combine that with three different distances and you get folks like the guy I saw in full-length blue jeans and sneakers at the start. And I say good for him! Riding a fixed gear I was not about setting any speed records. On the contrary, today was all about (and here I'm gong to play off a common colloquialism that all the kids use these days) HTTU. Harden The Taint Up.

We rolled out. And then stopped and ate. Then we rode some more. And stopped to eat again. Repeat. I had stated that I wanted to take a short break at all the aid stations to eat but also to stretch my back and ease the part of my body that touches my saddle. Surprisingly, in spite of some sections that were uncomfortable I did way better than I thought and my crotch held up really well. I attribute this to good bike fit! Needing to rock your hips or being too stretched out, etc. will kill you on a fixed gear and luckily I have been tuning my position for many years.

In the beginning Jeff was destroying me on the descents. Tony would coast away and Jeff would slowly spin away while I struggled. I was totally stiff and could not relax the muscles in my legs. Thank goodness the more I rode the better I got and by half way I was able to keep up with Jeff when we went downhill. Just like any fixed gear ride, the climbs were a huge relief! It really changes your perspective, that feeling of looking forward to a climb is so refreshing.

Eating ride food can mean many different things. Today it meant we ate stuff like this.


And this.


I know...!

There were a few tough climbs climbs but not needing to go fast or keep up with anyone sure helped. We regrouped at the summit the one time we got separated. The hardest climb for me was heading west on the old Issaquah-Fall City Rd. Ouch. The hardest descent was going down Black Nugget Rd. Bigger ouch! Coming down from Snoqualmie Falls was not too bad. By then my legs were turning circles much better.

We laughed, we luckily did not cry and we spun our brains out. Here we are finishing up riding through Magnuson Park.

The longest ride I had ever done on my fixed gear prior to this was about 50 miles if memory serves me correctly so this is a new milestone for sure. Would I do it again? Yes! Especially if I did not have to start the ride with a sore behind.

Kudos to Jeff for doing this with me after suggesting it. Turns out he was almost not able to do so… He was truing the rear wheel of his fixed gear bike and broke a spoke. He went to the bike shop to get a spoke and they removed his cog so he could thread it through the hub flange. When he got home he discovered the shop had kept the axle nut. :( Thankfully I had a spare nut.

Here are all the pictures and video.

Sleep 6
Waking HR  
Body Weight  
Body Fat  
Breakfast 6:00 AM - banana, water
7:30 AM - hard boiled egg, bread w/jam, coffee
Workout Food 2 bottles each w/2 scoops Perpetuem, 2 hard boiled eggs, half a peanut butter and jam sandwich, half a cheese and meat sandwich, slice of pie, 2 bottles Gatorade, 2 bottles water, banana, 2 slices watermelon
Injuries My right knee twinged a few times during the ride but it was at the end and did not bother me after I finished.
Time of Day 8:00 AM
Workout Type endurance
Weather upper 50s to mid 70s, sunny by the end, dry, calm
Equipment Kona Paddy Wagon
42 x 16 gear
700 x 23 tires
Clothing bib shorts, sleeveless undershirt, short sleeve jersey, cap

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