The Kippster commented on a Singletracks.com article I shared the other day:
One more gadgety game people play to pump life into a hobby
I replied simply:
Less gadgets, more game
I’m not a purist to an extreme level. But I appreciate simplicity. I see the value in having fewer moving parts. It’s one reason I became enamored with trail running even though I love mountain biking infinitely more. Take the complexity out of the experience and gain satisfaction. This is especially true after getting bogged down with mechanicals or muddy conditions, or other barriers to enjoyment.
Finding the single speed camp feels less like jumping on a fad-wagon and more like reaching a long sought destination.
No one goes into mountain biking wanting to add gears and gadgets and accessories. Okay, well, maybe there are a few Captain Dashboards out there. Some people are gear heads and need the gears in their heads checked maybe. But the appeal of the bike is its simplicity. To take it to a more simplistic level is to distill mountain biking down to something that replicates flying.
I think the human instinct is to find less friction. In everything we do we just want to move more freely. That could explain why our species has a fascination with flying.
For the uninitiated, single speed mountain biking may not seem like an activity with less friction than geared mountain biking. It is counter-intuitive. But looking at the bigger picture and weighed against complexities involved in maintaining and riding a geared bike there is a long term benefit to riding with a single speed.
When you reduce the energy needed to keep a system operating you increase the range of the vehicle. Again, you could look at this on a larger scale than a lunch time ride. Over a lifetime a cyclist with less hassle is a happier cyclist.
Am I reaching?
I really just wanted to post “Less gadgets, more game” and leave it at that. The statement is simple and explanatory. Self-contained. But I figured you would want more bang for your buck. So…bang.
To put a microscope on Kipp’s statement, there’s really no truth—at least from my standpoint—in it. My “hobby” didn’t need new life. I ride as often as I can. I’ve been trying to make myself focus more on running to get ready for the upcoming 50k suicide I have signed up for, but otherwise I most often choose to go forth on my mountain bike for recreation and fitness. It’s my default setting.
I would have happily kept riding my geared bike until the end of time. I had slimmed it down from 3x9 to 1x10 this past year. It’s nice having some flexibility. But if I were still cranking the 27 gear beast I’d be having fun and keeping it real. No reductions necessary.
Having discovered the joys of simplifying my bike (or truly, debunking the misconceptions surrounding single speeds) I am merely a better and more satisfied rider.
Experience is the best teacher. My first mountain bike was fully rigid. No squish. I rode it for years and had no problems. In fact, when Dave started peer pressuring me into upgrading to a front suspension fork I resisted. The only reason my next mountain bike had a suspension fork was because that’s what I inherited. And when I started planning my bike to take to Leadville I realized suspension would ease the suffering of a one hundred mile mountain bike race. Reality is.
I’ve considered putting on the rigid fork Dave sent with the SSB. It would lighten the load and simplify life even more. As long as my decrepitude didn’t stray into wussitude I think I’d be happier.
I’ve got enough friction in my life without allowing more hassle to creep in. Fewer moving parts. Less brain damage. More game. Isn’t that what we all want?