Friday, August 12, 2011

Loathing Gears in Spa City

Benjamin Disareli, Mondegreen, and the Need for Speeds
Point of fact: Everyone knows that Eric, Ginger and Co. were trying to talk about Tullio's invention and not The 1st Earl of Beaconsfield. Right? History re-rewritten. Now let's back to the problem.

The proliferation of gear selection over the past couple decades has been obscene, cassettes from 5,6,7,8,9 to 10, culminating in the Spinal Tap clich̩ РEleven. Seriously? Currently, there are more cogs on a Campagnolo cassette than total gear combinations on my metallic, kelly green Schwinn Varsity; thanks Nigel. In theory, one could have anywhere from one to thirty-three speeds on a rig.

Joker, Joker and The triple? Okay, I won't fault someone for giving CX a shot on a mountain or touring bike, which might happen to have a triple but the focus today is ideal race machines. In a clash of cross culture, we find riders subscribing to three approaches to getting in touch with their higher-power.

Miss Wasilla 1984
L'Etate Rouge: 2x10
“You can pry my STI shifters out of my cold, dead hands” On the far right, the setup that came with the bike. Kinda like a closet full of shoes, it gives you the promise of choices, yet you still never have the right ones. A setup for the sheeple that I am told represents the nations thinking, although they forgot to ask me. More gears-more problems, get a raging clue, or maybe not. Wait, shouldn't these guys be voting policy reducing the amount of gearing?

Oh, New England: 1x10
Yankee pragmatism, stripped down. Removing the front derailleur and extra ring is like taking out the car door windows and welding in a roll cage. Install your bestus-chain-stayey-oney devices, bashguard, dogfang, sharktooth and a brake lever from the days of downtube shifters, and hold on. Super fast and Nomex suit is not required.

Thunderdome at SSCXWC
Portlandia: 1x1
Minimalist, for the same people who have bomb shelters and provisions for post-apocalyptic times. Or $225 Rapha bike jeans. Once a refuge for hipsters suspected of drinking the bong water, now SS has been recognized by USA Cycling with a SSCX National Championship. Take that Rhythm Gymnastics, got ink?

Sermon on your mount:
Thou shall have at least one gear.
Thou shall use one gear at one time.
Thou shall require one gear to finish the race.

My fantasy Run-What-You-Brung 2011 

Is this dogma to espouse the single-speed ascetics? Not at all, it is merely a gentle reminder of what you really need and what the decision process might be when contemplating the gearing selection on your bike.

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