Genesis, single speeds and one big hill.

This weekend was a bit of a struggle. A slow start Saturday precluded a morning cross ride (the legacy of the London bike show lingering on).  Sunday’s ride was thoroughly curtailed by a bout of sickness that descended onto Evelyn at 8pm on Saturday evening and I was still sat with her at 4am on Saturday morning. No need for gory details, but suffice to say – it was not pretty. So iit was a very lethargic Cyclestuff editor that headed out at 2pm on Sunday afternoon. But what a ride, What a ride.

Image courtesy of Genesis bikes and way better than the one I took.

Rolling the clock back seven days, as the London Bike show wound down, I popped over to the Genesis stand, buried deep in the heart of Madison-ville (Madison had an almighty section that even contained ‘streets’). I lingered. I lurked furtively. I had the look of a haunted man. I was waiting for the opportunity to congratulate Dom (designer at Genesis) on the single-speed ‘Day-one’, a cyclo-cross bike that I use as my commuter and have adopted as my training torture chamber of choice. Graciously he accepted the feedback without allowing his chest to stick out too much further (it’s fair to say that the Genesis lads are very proud of their bikes) and we talked about two wheels, bike culture, the relative merits of disc brakes and bike events for community, not for profit. On discs, Genesis will be offering the Day-one as a disc braked cross bike for 2012-13. This is an interesting development. Cyclo-cross is witnessing a flurry of interest and a whirl of technological change. Personally, I feel that the draw of a single-speed bike is simplicity and adding disc brakes potentially complicates matters (weight and adjustment). Hopefully they will continue to offer both. Nonetheless, the Day-one is rapidly becoming my favourite steed for its minimalism and bike handling, and I’d recommend it unreservedly to others. On bike events for community, watch this space – my plans for a free cross race with a difference are taking shape. Which brings me back to yesterday’s ride…..

Escaping from the house, I headed off towards Cefn Mably (pronounced Kevin-Mab-Lee) and the lanes that encircle Cardiff. It only takes about 15 mins before getting into the countryside. In a jiffy, the city drops away. The gray sky was slowly lightening and fighting a stiff head wind, the bike bucked and rolled on the bumpy lanes. The countryside in this area is a hidden gem with timeless appeal; a patchwork quilt of small hills and fields with little to no traffic. I rode as hard as I could muster (given the difficult evening prior). If you’ve only two hours available and you want to make them count, there’s simply no alternative. This is is the beauty of a single-speed:  every second counts (and many of them hurt).

View from the top - Caerphilly mountain

The road bucks and rolls, rolls and bucks. Cefn Mably, then Draethen. Draethen, then Rudry. Fields give way to woodland, woodland hands over to hills – and big lumpy ones at that. There’s a sting in the end of this particular ride; the ‘Col de Caerphilly’ as the Tour of Britain organisers dub it (to me, it’s Caerphilly mountain, but then I’m quite old fashioned). As it’s bulk loomed, the gray sky became a golden yellow, the sun setting beautifully over distant West Wales. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was late spring rather than late winter. Climbing the mountain in a 42 x 18 is the anticipated hurty grind from beginning to end but then…… that’s the point.

The ultimate time machine - a 42 inch chainring.

It would be easy enough to circumvent the ‘Col’, but that would be wasting the small time available (besides, when you can whizz down the other side much quicker than the cars, why pass up an opportunity like that?) After two hours of high cadence and long grinds, I arrived back, tired, elated and happy. You can ask for little more on a Sunday afternoon in Jan.

As a final aside, I’m increasingly convinced that the path to true happiness (and a few stiff muscles) lies on a single-speed. Extensive research in this area with a sample size of one (me) seems to suggest that it does. I wonder if the 42 tooth chainring has anything to do with it? I’m sure Douglas Adams would insist that it does. The answer to life the universe and everything can be found in two wheels and one chainring:  a 42.

Evelyn is on the road to recovery, but her Dad is still shattered.

4 replies »

  1. Ive got this bike two, among a bounch of others,, but this one have stolen my heart. As sad here before, I never had so much fun on a bike before. Im actually going on a 5 month bike tour in south of europe next summer on my Day One SS. My girl will also ride a SS,, a Kona Paddy Wagon.
    you can follow us on that trip on
    Cheers. /Noa

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