The foxtrot


I got my singlespeed back last week. It’s been out of commission. Hard riding (broken spoke) and laziness (I didn’t fix it). It went to bike hospital and came back a new bike. Shiny and oiled. Greased and wiped. Everything ticking like a swiss timepiece.

So I take it out on a ride. The only single speed in a sea of cassettes. Eyebrows are raised. Slight shakes of the head. There’s hills on this ride. I nod. Yes, there are.

I can hear the crunching and munching of frustrated chains in the December cold. Not from me. Just the smooth glide of chainring over sprocket. It keeps you in the moment.


My legs oscillate. A foxtrot. Quick, slow, quick, quick, slow. Hills are harder, but fine (if you understand them). Descending is spinning at 1400rpm. Washing machine revs. On a day that is hard to maintain heat, I. Feel. Fine.

We have a café stop. Bikes are heaped on bikes, heaped on bikes, heaped on bikes. Nervous glances punctuate conversation. Leaving carbon unattended can be a costly hobby. I have no such worries. Mine is dowdy in glamorous company. But beautiful. To me.

On the final miles of the return, the rule book is cast out of the window. No more sensible riding pace. The front of the peloton make that clear. It’s time to mix it up. Put your back into it says the devil on my shoulder. I do. Working my way through. On the front. Where I shouldn’t be. But this is a last hurrah. I couldn’t keep this up for long. 1200rpm, 1400 rpm, 1600 rpm. My washing machine dances across the kitchen floor. Thankfully we’re all spent. My legs are full of acid. My face is full of grin. My heart is full of happy.

Single speed simplicity. A vehicle to concentrate the mind on experience and to forget the kit. I missed this bike.

‘Fox on a bike’ adapted from orginal art by Dark Cycle Clothing and available in various mediums on Etsy

4 replies »

  1. Having recently been reacquainted with my singlespeed (also at the back of the shed due to laziness… and bad tyres), this post particularly resonates with me.
    I love the simplicity of singlespeeds. When I first got mine back on the road my fingers looked for the gears when I reached hills. But when none were found, I just grinned and pushed a little harder and was reminded that I can do this. Gears are a luxury that are not always essential (and I really don’t need to use them as much as I do).

    • Well said Allysse. You know when you’re in tune with the single speed when your trigger finger stops searching for gears. It’s a slow and lovely dawning 🙂

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