Project SingleSpeed Racer- Race Report 3

The drama is supposed to happen on the race course, not in the parking lot. On a hot and dry June day I pulled into the Neshaminy High School parking lot in plenty of time for the Guy’s Racing Neshaminy Classic. After getting checked in, I kitted up and started my warmup circling the parking lot. The night before I had put a new Maxxis Crossmark tire on the front, with Stans sealant, and while riding across the parking lot mid-warmup I thought I heard a leak. I bent over the front wheel and tried to locate the source of the sputtering sound, but I couldn’t figure it out. Then I saw what looked like oil on my rim. The lower seal on my Maverick SC32 fork decided to head south and was spraying fork oil right onto my disc brake rotor and caliper. A few curses later I was rummaging through my toolbox. I managed to pull out some old brake pads and proceeded to use my towel to try and clean the rotor and brake caliper as best I could. With new pads fitted, it made a screeching sound that would make Hitchcock proud, and even slowed the bike a bit. I jammed the seal back into the fork and pumped some extra air into the spring to keep it from slamming the bottom. With 5 minutes left before the start, I spun my legs out a bit and tried to relax.

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Photo by Ed McDaniel

The course was a 6 mile loop of twisty turns and short steep climbs, we would do a prolog and 3 laps for 20 miles total. It seemed to be a good singlespeed course, only the flat grass start would be challenging. We had 4 singlespeed riders on the Elite starting line, the most yet this season. I went with a 32×18 on my 29’er and it proved to be a good choice with no forced run-ups. I got a reasonable start and dropped into the singletrack around 10th place, right behind singlespeed master Topher Valenti (Bike Sport). The prolog section was fast and fun. Tight corners, log piles, wood bridges, and roots worked to hold your attention. Half way through the first main lap, I was riding down I slight downhill covered in roots when I suddenly felt my cranks freewheel. Somehow I had dropped my chain, on a singlespeed! Since I busted my crankarm in the last race, I had replaced it temporarily with an old geared one. When I tried to hand-pedal the chain back on, I kept catching it on the damn studs for the granny gear. After losing a minute, and getting passed by the whole Elite field, I got moving again. After the race I discovered a disturbing lack of roundness in my chainring.

The rest of the race flowed perfectly. I had a blast trying to keep my momentum and reeling in riders. The course really suited a singlespeed well and reminded me of riding at the Plateau in Philly. I was able to keep pace with the geared riders everywhere on the course, and made my passes on the two longer climbs. By the end of the second lap I was riding behind Andrew Alesio (Fuji Bikes) and felt good. Mike Hebe (VisitPa.com) was on our tail after an earlier crash. I intended to pass Andrew on the last climb, but he saw me coming and got on top of it. He passed fellow singlespeed rider Mike Yozell (VisitPa.com) right before the finish and I came in 10 feet behind Yozell. Good enough for 11th place. Harlan Price (Fitness Together/IFracing.org) won the Elite class followed closely by Aaron Snyder (Scott Bikes) and with Topher (Bike Sport) being the first singlespeed rider, with an impressive 6th place finish.

Needless to say this experience has accelerated my quest for a new fork. Over the next few weeks I’ll be sampling the 29’er offerings from Fox, Rock Shox and others, and be making a switch. With my Stans lightweight aluminum rotor doused on oil, I’m taking the opportunity to try something new there as well. Scrub Components has just come up with their own superlight rotor made from a metal matrix material, which I’ll be trying out to compare with the Stans rotor. Keep tuned for the results.

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