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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Single speed endurance/century rides?

Old 03-11-23, 05:55 PM
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highandlowrpm
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Single speed endurance/century rides?

Didnt see this subject come up searching the different forums, so posting here:

Anyone with experience and recommendations on doing century rides, or other endurance rides, with a single speed (SS) bike?

Just got a new SS bike (State Bicycle Black Label) a month ago, and have it set up with a 48x17 freewheel. I do a lot of biking and training, and especially like SS bikes. With my level of fitness, and proper hydration and fueling, was okay (difficult, but not too bad) doing a 60 mile 3000+ ft elevation gain ride a week ago

Probably not the right tool for the job, but as a challenge Id like to try to get up to an 80 or 100 mile, 8000+ ft elevation gain ride with the SS. Biggest thing from my experience is to take it slow climbing out of the saddle for the hills to not blow out my knees, and carry a lot of nutrition and water. Anyone with experience that theyd like add?
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Old 03-11-23, 07:00 PM
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GhostRider62
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I've ridden with many fixed speed endurance riders. 48x17 with 8,000 ft elevation on an 80 miler is a bit stout but I am old and slow.

For comparison, one strong randonneur used a 48x18 on PBP and I read that Steve Abraham rode PBP in a 48 x 17. PBP is about 55 feet per mile but nothing to speak of over 8%.

A fellow I used to do brevets with could do over 400 miles in 24 hours, and he was on a 48 x 17 when we rode and that was on rolling terrain. He has set records.

You could be young, light, and very strong. If not, I would rethink 48 x 17 with 100 feet per mile terrain.
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Old 03-11-23, 10:55 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
You could be young, light, and very strong.
Old you will wonder why young you hated their knees so much to do that to them.
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Old 03-11-23, 11:25 PM
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Originally Posted by GhostRider62 View Post
I've ridden with many fixed speed endurance riders. 48x17 with 8,000 ft elevation on an 80 miler is a bit stout but I am old and slow.

For comparison, one strong randonneur used a 48x18 on PBP and I read that Steve Abraham rode PBP in a 48 x 17. PBP is about 55 feet per mile but nothing to speak of over 8%.

A fellow I used to do brevets with could do over 400 miles in 24 hours, and he was on a 48 x 17 when we rode and that was on rolling terrain. He has set records.

You could be young, light, and very strong. If not, I would rethink 48 x 17 with 100 feet per mile terrain.
Appreciate the info on what others have done. Thats what I wondering - what is theoretically possible, and then considering the variables (individual, equipment and ride conditions).

Not young, but not that old either. Now fairly light, after losing weight from a lot of miles and climbing over the past few years. And Id consider myself a strong rider, but not super strong. My climbing technique has improved a lot over the past few years.

Seems like 48x17 may be what I may stick with, given your other examples, and Ill see how it goes. Thanks!
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Old 03-11-23, 11:31 PM
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My knees arent great, but after several years of a lot of climbing, my technique has improved enough that I feel that I can climb most anything. A few years ago my knees and legs would cramp up, and Id just bonk. Now that almost never happens. Proper nutrition and hydration during rides, has also be a huge difference for me.

But riding a SS over 60 miles or so, with big hills, might be the limit. Just have to give it a try. I dont walk up hills up until this point, but I might need to do that if the grades get too extreme during a really long ride.
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Old 03-12-23, 08:13 AM
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That's a lot of climbing. There have been a couple of PA randonneurs that rode fixed, up to 1200km rides. And lots more that have done 200km brevets with lots of climbing on fixed gears. I always felt a bit sorry when they were spinning down the steep hills we have in PA. So with a freewheel, at least you have that going for you. I have lots of knee problems, so going back to SS just seems like not the best idea for me. But I have been tempted for my commuter bike.
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Old 03-12-23, 08:31 AM
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48x17 at 30 rpm on a 10% hill takes 250 watts and on a 15% hill takes 375 watts for 150 lb rider with 20# bike.

48x17 at 40 rpm on a 10% hill takes 335 watts and on a 15% hill takes 500 watts for 150 lb rider.

Something like PBP does not have steep hills, it just has unending little hills. An 80 mile ride with 8000 feet of climbing might just be constantly rolling terrain with nothing over 10%, in which case maybe 48x17 is not excessive. I rode in PA the other day and the peak gradient was supposedly 38% but probably averaged 20% for what seemed like eternity in my 35x33, the last time I did that hill was in a 1X with 48T. I had to use the 24 inch gear but made it up.

OP should just try it. If his W/Kg or knees are insufficient, she will learn quickly.
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Old 03-12-23, 11:11 AM
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More good info, thanks. Up to 1200km, or even 200km, wow. More fuel to give me motivation to try it.

Regarding knee problems, I tore my ACL playing volleyball, and never had knee replacement. But biking has helped me a lot, and Ive gotten stronger, and I also use generic Volteran gel on my knee too (helps prevent swelling).

And if you want a SS for commuting and longer rides/commuting, and save your knees, I highly recommend a Ride1UP Roadster SS belt drive e-bike. $1100, ~ 33 lbs, and looks like a regular bike. Have gotten almost 7000 miles on mine, and absolutely love it. It got me in much better shape, so that I can now ride the analog SS bike. And nothing like trying to ride and climb with a 30-40 lb SS e-bike with the motor off as much as possible, to help with training!
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Old 03-12-23, 01:16 PM
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The climbing just after Loudeac on the way towards Brest seems steep to me maybe close to 20% for a while, but I have only ridden it in the dark just after I woke up. So I could be wrong about that. On the way back, riding downhill through the woods, I was having fun until they stopped me and made me turn on my second light which made it so I couldn't see. Apparently they were having crashes, I passed one. The crashees were pretty annoyed when I asked if they were okay.
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Old 03-12-23, 04:29 PM
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This is great info, thanks:



48x17 at 30 rpm on a 10% hill takes 250 watts and on a 15% hill takes 375 watts for 150 lb rider with 20# bike.

48x17 at 40 rpm on a 10% hill takes 335 watts and on a 15% hill takes 500 watts for 150 lb rider.



I have gone from under 230 watts FTP to almost 260 watts FTP over the past 18 months, and hope to keep going up. And bike is about 20 lbs, after accessories and water.

I can do some of those bigger % grades, but need them short enough and spaced out enough to recover in between. Can just give it try, when the weather is good, and load up with nutrition and water!
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Old 03-12-23, 04:58 PM
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If you search, or google "fixed gear century" you will find a lot of information which will be applicable.

One point was to make sure you gear low enough. The worst that happens is you finish a little slower. If you gear too high, you won't finish.

48x17 is mid 70's gear inches. Kind of steep for a hilly road.

Last edited by stevel610; 03-12-23 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 03-12-23, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The climbing just after Loudeac on the way towards Brest seems steep to me maybe close to 20% for a while, but I have only ridden it in the dark just after I woke up. So I could be wrong about that. On the way back, riding downhill through the woods, I was having fun until they stopped me and made me turn on my second light which made it so I couldn't see. Apparently they were having crashes, I passed one. The crashees were pretty annoyed when I asked if they were okay.
Ironically, that hill and I have a history. In 2019, a Fixie was ahead weaving back and forth across the road. On my bent, 4 mph is the slowest that I can go and still balance and 5 mph is better. The Fixie was probably doing 2-3 mph. "On your left, passing on your left. A Gauche, regardez...faites attention. Linkx. Etc.". My only beef with fixed gear riders is how they take up the whole road on climbs. I tore my PCL in 1995 and that hill was my abandonnee point. I did walk up the last part but realized no way to do another 700-800km.
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Old 03-12-23, 11:52 PM
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Originally Posted by stevel610 View Post
If you search, or google "fixed gear century" you will find a lot of information which will be applicable.

One point was to make sure you gear low enough. The worst that happens is you finish a little slower. If you gear too high, you won't finish.

48x17 is mid 70's gear inches. Kind of steep for a hilly road.
That was the right search term, good idea. Searching for single speed didnt get the same results!
Yeah, Im finding that I may be tapped out at around 60 miles or so, with fairly hilly rides. Repeated grades over about 7-8%, have been tiring me out, with 48x17. Might try a flatter century ride first. Considering a 19t, but not yet. Maybe only for the gran fondos with big elevation gains.

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Old 03-13-23, 10:26 AM
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Singlespeed touring/bikepacker here in the PNW, so we have our share of hills. Although the goal of touring is not necessarily speed, the 100 miles per day with 6000+ feet of climbing is not uncommon.
Your 48/17 is an impressively large gear for the distance and terrain you are talking about (at least for me). For road touring, I ride a 42/16 (fully loaded front/rear panniers). For offroad bikepacking, I ride a 32/18. I have found these ratios work best for me.
Experience/practice in different terrain and gearing will probably lead you to your answer. My go-to training ride in the area is 25 miles with 2500ft of climbing. After each ride, I try to think of how i felt on each key part of the route, what i liked, what i didn't, and where i could improve. Sometimes i find myself racing groups of road-bikers uphills for fun just to get passed by them on the downhills
As for gaining distance, again, knowing how to pace yourself on uphills and false-flats/headwind is definitely key.
What is your overall goal? Distance or speed?
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Old 03-13-23, 12:29 PM
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Originally Posted by MixedRider;[url=tel:22828143
22828143]Singlespeed touring/bikepacker here in the PNW, so we have our share of hills. Although the goal of touring is not necessarily speed, the 100 miles per day with 6000+ feet of climbing is not uncommon.
Your 48/17 is an impressively large gear for the distance and terrain you are talking about (at least for me). For road touring, I ride a 42/16 (fully loaded front/rear panniers). For offroad bikepacking, I ride a 32/18. I have found these ratios work best for me.
Experience/practice in different terrain and gearing will probably lead you to your answer. My go-to training ride in the area is 25 miles with 2500ft of climbing. After each ride, I try to think of how i felt on each key part of the route, what i liked, what i didn't, and where i could improve. Sometimes i find myself racing groups of road-bikers uphills for fun just to get passed by them on the downhills
As for gaining distance, again, knowing how to pace yourself on uphills and false-flats/headwind is definitely key.
What is your overall goal? Distance or speed?
Good question. My overall goal for 2023, maybe I just like round numbers, is to do a SS 100 mile 10000 ft elevation ride. Based on my most recent 40-60 mile rides with the 48x17 gear, it does seems like it might be beyond my reach with that setup. So for that goal, it may just be distance and survival, so considering 48x19 or x20. Rest of the time, its more average speed since I most enjoy the higher speeds and thus the gearing.

The past years, Ive been focusing a lot on technique (smooth spinning, out of saddle climbing technique, aero positions and conserving energy on downhills where possible) and other gains from reducing rolling resistance (love the Continental Grand Prix 5000 tires) and reducing bike weight (carry ultralight TPU tubes as spare tubes, removed my rear rack and replaced with saddle bags and frame bags) including the new SS bike (State Bicycle Black Label is ~17.5 lbs before adding on, at a reasonable under $800). All the changes, plus my training outdoor and also indoors doing virtual races, have made a dramatic difference for me.

Already learning a lot from the posts here, and new terms for me (brevets, randonneurs, PBP, etc), so this will be a continual learning and trial and error situation for me this year. Looks like detailing planning will be needed for the rides, to see what grades, climbs and challenges Id be dealing with to survive each situation. Appreciate all the input, as I learn this new world!

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Old 03-14-23, 03:59 PM
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After doing some more research, saw that White Industries has a 17/19t Dos Eno dual freewheel, that might the best solution for my needs! Use the 17t for majority of ride/rides, and then an on-the-road change to the 19t for the severe climbs.
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