I have been called a freak many times in my life - when I was younger it was the way I dressed - when riding off road it was the stunts I'd (try to) pull off - but most recently its the type of bike I ride. I do most of my road riding on a single speed. I've had noses stuck up high as I passed, looks of awe, looks of disgust, and of course the usual "your a freak!".
A while back, during a double century, I met a guy who told me of a friend of his who also does distance riding on a single speed, a Shwinn cruiser! I was suprised but thought no way and let it go. At the end of the ride we swapped numbers, and the guy I had been riding with asked "do you mind if I give your number to my single speeding friend?"
"Not at all", my reply.
Weeks go by, then one day I get a call from the single speeding Shwinn cruiser guy. We bs'd for a while and agreed to go on a ride. Yesterday morn he pulls up to my house in a early sixties Ford Ranchero - complete with primer paint job. And in the back of this old beast is a 1959 Shwinn cruiser with custom fork, ultra light wheels, rear disc brake with internal cable routing, XTR cranks attached to a Dura Ace bottom bracket, dual water bottle bosses, custom seatpost, etc. All I can say is that it was beautiful.
Next, we began our ride. Roughly 100 miles of very hilly terrain. He was incredibly strong. Most rides I lead in the hills, this was no exception. I pulled a good distance from him at the base of each climb, but he wouldn't let me out of his sight. At one point we hit a 8 mile climb, we matched speed for about 4 miles - then I cracked, hard. I ended up getting to the top 5 minutes behind him - I had been schooled by a guy on a Shwinn cruiser - and I loved every minute of it.
On the ride back we were riding through a residential area and passed a yard sale. Something caught my eye so we stopped. It was an early 70's Shwinn "Racer" - single speed with only a coaster brake. It was in original perfect condition. After some very light negotiation I purchased it for 15 bucks. Major score! What are the chances - two single speeders find a yard sale selling an awsome single speed. With about 40 miles of riding left, the bike stayed at the yard sale and I picked it up later that evening.
The rest of the ride was great - good conversation at a brisk pace. We arrived back at my house, said our good-byes and agreed to ride again in the not too distant future. After meeting and riding with this guy I realized that, in the world of freaks, this guy is way ahead of me.
Here's his bike: