Heidi Gurov has experimented with racing cyclocross in the singlespeed category this season. Read about her experience as she has made this already challenging sport even more difficult.
I always thought people who rode singlespeed bikes were a bit crazy and gluttons for pain… I mean, derailleurs are a good thing! That was, until Trek came out with a Superfly singlespeed mountain bike in matte black and purple, and after test riding my friend’s at a short track mountain bike race, I knew I had to give this singlespeed business a go! After having a blast at short track on a singlespeed I figured it was just natural to race singlespeed during cyclocross this season. Luckily I was able to score a 2016 Specialized Crux singlespeed from our sponsor bike shop, Turin, and I was all set to go for making cyclocross even more painful than it already should be.
My first singlespeed cross race was in Golden at a Back 2 Basics weekday race. I finished 22nd among the boys, but had a big smile the entire time. With shifting a non-factor it’s amazing how quickly cornering and climbing skills improve to maintain momentum. There’s really no option but to go hard, and compared to my geared lap times, it was clear I was pushing harder than I would if shifting was an option.
I followed up with racing the new BRAC category, SS4/5 at CycloX Valmont. I was having a great race, solidly in 4th when I decided to get up close and person on the Belgian Stairs run up, aka I tripped and took one of the hardest spills ever. This is when I learned less parts on a bike means less things to break, as with how the bike landed (and with me on top of it) a rear derailleur wouldn’t have survived! I finished up the race in 5th, badly bruised and bloody. But I was still loving singlespeed cyclocross!
Cross of the North weekend in Fort Collins meant racing four times over three days, doubling up with SW3 (with gears) and SS4/5. Saturday morning’s SS4/5 race went well, though the nearly 700 feet of climbing over 8 miles was rough with only 40/18 gearing as an option! I laughed as the entire field jumped a plywood platform near the start of each lap. It gave me the biggest smile, and I realized even more that singlespeed racing suited my personality perfectly with a great mix of fun, craziness, and hard work. Sunday’s race I fought hard for the podium, coming in 3rd for my first cyclocross podium in almost two years!
And to my latest adventure, the Blue Sky Velo Cup! My boyfriend and I traveled down from Cheyenne at 5:30am to make his 8am race start, arriving when it was still dark and the ground was still a thick, sticky clay mud that sucked the life and energy out of every pair of legs that pedaled across it. The start was a hard climb, and once I finally got clipped in I took the holeshot. I went back and forth on the first lap with a guy in an amazing skinsuit with kittens with laser beams on it, and overtook him on the starting climb on the second lap. From there on I pushed hard, and continued to widen the gap to nearly three minutes by the end of the race. At times I swore my tires were flat, but alas it was just the mud and I pushed down harder on my legs trying to get those wheels turning faster. By the end the announcers were egging me on to catch some of the 50+ cat 4 master men, so I had a fun game of cat and mouse with a few of those guys before rounding the final corner. I’ve never won a bike race before where “posting up” was an acceptable thing to do, so I was pretty darn excited to finally get the chance to do that! My first cyclocross win! Who knew it’d take taking away all my gears to make it happen?!
It goes without saying, I’m having a BLAST! I usually struggle during cyclocross season with having fun, and racing SS4/5 has changed that all for me. I’m also dabbling in more singlespeed mountain biking, and like the crazy person I have become, I registered for my first solo 24 hour mountain bike race as a singlespeed. I guess the next thing from here is track racing with fixed gears??