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Forced single speed on Sunday’s century ride.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014 by  
Filed under Daily Blog

August
19
2014

Tomorrow morning I’m going to follow-up on yesterday’s post about the broken spoke my rear Zipp 404 suffered on Saturday morning’s ride. I’ve learned a lot of new information over the past 24 hours, and I think it may be of interest to some.

This morning, however, I want to shift gears (this is a pun, you’ll see why below), and talk a bit about a funny thing that happened on Sunday’s 167 kilometer (104 mile) ride.

I rolled out on Sunday's 167 kilometer (104 mile) ride with a beautiful sunrise.

I rolled out on Sunday’s 167 kilometer (104 mile) ride with a beautiful sunrise.

My friend William, who was literally less than 12 hours back from a vacation, wanted to do a 50-100 mile ride on Sunday morning. I told him I’d be good with any distance and pace, I just wanted saddle time. We decided to roll out at 6:30 AM, and do the full century.

We kept the pace easy, and at the halfway point I felt as fresh as I did when we started. My average speed for the entire ride wound up being 29.13 km/h (18.1 mi/h), and my average wattage output was just 155 watts, which is Zone 1 (Recovery) for me.

What made this ride interesting is that for the first time ever, I’d forgotten to charge my Di2 battery! Normally every Friday evening I do a complete major tune of my bike, and this is also when I charge the Di2 battery. Well, I did the tuneup, but somehow I neglected to charge the battery. It wasn’t a big deal, as there was still more than a 50% charge remaining when I set off on Saturday morning’s ride. Saturday’s ride was fairly short at around 89 kilometers (55 miles), and I knew there would be plenty of juice for that ride.

Saturday’s ride, of course, was the ride when my rear wheel suffered a broken spoke. After Lisa picked me up and brought me home, I hurriedly swapped out my rear wheel and went back out to get some more miles in. When I returned from my ride it was later than usual, and I had some stuff to do. I quickly wiped down the chain and the bike frame, and put my bike in my home gym. Because I normally charge my battery every Friday (I’ve done this without fail for a full year), I completely forgot that my battery had not been charged this week…

So at about mile 70 of Sunday’s 104 mile ride, the Di2 battery dropped below 25%. When this happens, the system locks out the front derailleur to conserve battery life. I’d just completed a fairly steep hill, and so I was locked in the small ring. I knew at this point I had roughly 60 rear shifts left, which is not much with about 56 kilometers (~35 miles) over rolling terrain (not to mention stoplights) left to ride.

I tried to reduce my shifting as much as possible. Unfortunately–thanks in large part to nearly telepathic Di2 shifting–changing gears has become so automatic that I don’t even think about it. I sometimes found myself unconsciously shifting gears, “wasting” some of that precious juice. I decided to make a game out of it, and really focused on remaining in one gear.

I was mostly riding 34/12 or 34/11, but at lights I had to downshift a couple of cogs. Well, at about 159 kilometers (99 miles) and with about 8 kilometers (5 miles) left to ride, I hit the shifter and… nothing. I was locked in at 34/12 for the rest of the ride. “Cool”, I thought, “I’m on a single speed!”

That wasn’t a bad gear combination in which to be stuck. I definitely had to mash away from a couple of traffic lights, but even when I was riding at a little over 38 km/h (24 mi/h) I was only spinning around 120 RPM, which is a fairly fast cadence, but still comfortable for me. I actually enjoyed finishing up the ride on my forced single-speed.

In fact, that little experience makes me want to add a fixie (which are 87% cooler than single-speeds) to my stable. 🙂

John Stone Fitness Comments

2 Responses to “Forced single speed on Sunday’s century ride.”
    • To me “cool” is the best tool for the job. 🙂

      Yes, it’s true that I have to recharge the battery every 1,000 kilometers or so, but that’s a small bit of maintenance–and far less time-consuming than maintaining a mechanical drivetrain, I might add. In exchange for putting the battery in the charger every 600 miles or so I get: 100% flawless shifting using a light finger flick (even under hard load), I never have to worry about stretched or rusty cables because there aren’t any, there no cable housings to get gummed up, no cables or cable housings to replace, no chain rub/cross-chaining in any gear combination, custom shift programming and so on.

      I’d never go back to mechanical shift systems.

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