Yesterday afternoon, while hanging out with some Outlaws1 at an undisclosed SSOFT outpost in Baltimoreand freshly fueled by a few rounds of Loose CannonI made the mistake of calling the Disco Cowboy's bluff when he said half-jokingly that he would join team SSOFT Machines this weekend coming for the 12 Hours of Lodi Farm race, under one simple condition: that all of us ride it fixed.
Possessed of a large dose of Dutch courage,2 and exuding more than my usual degree of faux braggadocio, I listened to the steady voice of reason and, without hesitation, offered up a response that was nothing less than a fait accompli: I agreed.
In the sober hours that followed that dubious commitment, I did the math. I analyzed information gleaned from countless rounds of empirical assessments, merged details of the race course from years past with the wealth of experience garnered from the one or two times I've ridden fixed off-road, assayed my current “level of fitness”, sought guidance from dirty fixed-gear legends, evaluated my bike set-up, administered more Dutch courage,2 checked and rechecked the calculations, arranged the numbers in complex matrices, and ran the equations over and over again, until every error was pinched out of its margin.
And now, after compiling all of the data, I’ve arrived at one final, incontrovertible, utterly unambiguous conclusion: I'm fucked.
My Karate Monkey is already set up fixed with a TomiCOG bolted onto a Paul rear disc hub. That's the good news. The gearing is 32:18, a ratio that is more or less equivalent to a 2:1 on a 26er (my current ride of choice). The fork is rigid. There's a disc brake on the front that I fully intend to use. The thing is heavy and slow, a pregnant brontosaur with elephantiasis whose bottom bracket shell all but skims the earth beneath it like a cow-catcher, promising plenty of pedal strikes and unplanned detours. And with Lady Nature unabashedly emptying her boundless bladder upon this little corner of paradise this very minute, there’s not much time to gain experience. Oh, did I mention that I haven't ridden the beastfixed or freein months? It's all coming together nicely.
This is going to be fun...
...like a date with the Marquis de Sade...
...minus the happy ending.
1. This gathering occurred after a most informative and highly entertaining tour of the Clipper City Brewing Company, to which SSOFT member were cordially invited. More about the tour later.
2. Yeah, I know, not politically correct…if you’re Dutch, you're surely strong enough to handle it. There, there’s your offsetting compliment...have a beer and relax.