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-   -   Training for Your First Fixed-Gear Century (

The Octopus 04-25-12 12:58 PM


Thanks for posting this ^^^. It's amazingly helpful and useful information.


Spoonrobot 04-29-12 03:02 PM

I did my first fixed century today and don't have anything to add but I would like to thank everyone who took the time to post in this thread. It was of tremendous assistance!

NedClive 05-15-12 10:12 AM

I just completed my first Fixed Century on Sunday. Yes, I was still smiling at the finish after doing pretty well exactly what you suggested (although I only read this today!). I can't stress the importance of moving and stretching and getting out of the saddle. The first fifty miles was non-stop and very comfortable thanks to fairly constant movement. Oh, and the bike fit is perfect, gradually honed over a few years. Next project is 24 hrs at Goodwood racing circuit next year but they don't allow fixed gear! I'll do single free wheel instead. Anyone got any tips?

HardyWeinberg 07-23-12 11:58 AM


Originally Posted by Paraleisure (Post 13625955)
Do you have any tips for small riders? The hardest part of riding a fixed gear uphill for me is losing power. I weight 125 lbs and I normally climb fast but spinning a high cadence, around 70+ rpm. I find it challenging to stay on top of a gear like 42x16 on steeper climbs, I kind of bog down and go anaerobic from the muscle strain. I don't have huge leg muscles like other long distance fixed riders I've seen. Any tips are appreciated. Thanks!

I'm sure you've dealt with this substantially since December but I ride 42x17/19 dingle cog, and if I had to choose, over a distance, it would be the 19t cog. You can extend crank length for leverage but for me I have come around to erring on the shorter side to maintain a spin. Although climbing I mostly do out of the saddle, keep it like a jog up the hill.

I found, doing a fixed century (9k feet of climbing), that w/ the (freewheeling) group I sorted into, they would blow past me down all the hills, and then I would pass them all again on the climbs.

kk27 08-15-12 06:52 AM

Well Just last Sunday I did my first.... infact the countries first Brevet on a Fixe :) it was a fairly flat 200k. And just a week before I did a 180k with a quite challenging 9km hill. My friends were appalled at my 52-18 gearing but I held up fine enough on both the ride & didn't have to walk.

Anyway now I'm thinking of doing an entire series on this & possibly upcoming LEL-2013! But the terrain there makes me think of my options! So researching a bit on Internal hubs for getting thru climbs OR I'm I better off with Surly Dingle cogs & double cranks up front & chaining my gearing as required??? what are your thoughts??

Spoonrobot 08-15-12 07:03 AM

I think you just need to try a lower gearing. High 60s / Low 70s should be fine for the whole thing. Of course I'm basing this on looking at the routes online.

ThermionicScott 08-15-12 08:23 AM


Originally Posted by Spoonrobot (Post 14608177)
I think you just need to try a lower gearing. High 60s / Low 70s should be fine for the whole thing. Of course I'm basing this on looking at the routes online.

Agreed. I've gleaned from various posts and articles that The Octopus and Luis rock a gearing of about 70" for most of their stuff, and kk27's works out to something like 76".

Congrats on helping to pioneer this stuff in Mumbai, BTW! That's awesome. :thumb:

kk27 08-15-12 09:20 PM

thanks soctt :) yeah it's 76 G Inches though which is good enough for the Flat roads here. So I hear that people recommend double cogs with double cranks over IG-Hubs for the simple matter of weight & I also see a cost benefit, since I already have stuff with me. Anyhow will try a little more with Ratios & post it.

cali_axela 09-17-12 01:56 PM

Glad to find this thread, there's some great advice here. I picked up a cheap steel fixed gear back a few weeks ago and have been using it on my daily commute in SF (only 5 miles each way, but pretty hilly) and loving it. Been thinking about trying to build up more miles on it, but other road riders thought I was crazy. Glad to get some inspiration and motivation here! Going to start off with a half century on it this weekend to finish dialing the fit, and work up from there. Currently running a 46x16 ratio which is perfect for flats, quite a bit rough going uphill, but not too bad downhill. I also have a front mechanical disc brake, to help keep the speed in check coming down hills without overheating a rim or killing my knees.

NedClive 09-25-12 09:56 AM

No, you're not crazy! I love my FG far more than any other bike I've had. I guess it's the Sheldon Brown "one with the machine" thing. Or maybe it's that sense of simplicity and challenge. Just completed 50 miles ( last twenty in the dark ) and averaged 16.5 mph. YES!!!

cali_axela 09-25-12 12:48 PM

Thanks! I took it on a ~20 mile ride this weekend, and it was really fun. I promptly replaced the riser bars it came with, with some road drop bars and a cross lever for the front brake, and liking it a lot more than the first couple weeks where I tried to get used to the riser.

The only issue I'm having, is that I'm starting to get some knee pain from it, so I cut the ride short instead of going for a half century. I'm guessing from the relatively high ratio, since I think I have the seat and bar fits dialed pretty well, and I'm using existing SPD shoes with the cleats setup well for me; I have an 18t fixed cog I'm trying install to replace the 16t freewheel, but I can't get the damn freewheel off, there's no place for a tool. I think I'm going to need to just put it in a vice... it's a cheapo Pheasant freewheel, it looks like other people have had similar issues with it.

NedClive 10-01-12 11:42 AM

Where was the knee pain? My favourite book: (Long Distance Cycling by Edmund Burke and Ed Pavelka) suggests you point your toes in the direction of the pain and it may go away. Point them out for a pain on the outside and vice versa. I use toe clips to give me as much movement as possible as I have only one meniscus in one knee and it sometimes hurts, although it's better cycling than standing or walking!
Good luck with the free wheel. My wife has ditched her gears in favour of a SS and loves it.

cali_axela 10-01-12 12:55 PM

Thanks for the tips. The worst pain is on the outside rear of my right knee, and there's a little above the kneecap as well -- same as you, it's worst when walking or standing... barely notice when riding.

I use SPD pedals with lots of free float, and use similar pedals on my mountain bike with the same shoes/cleats, and never had knee issues after riding that bike even further/harder. I'm hoping it's just from mashing too hard up steeper hills than I should be trying to tackle in such a high gear (46x16, a couple blocks in SF on my commute have 7-9% grades) right away -- which I'm going to avoid repeating for awhile and take it easier.

Coluber42 11-22-12 08:28 AM

I love that this thread is here. I always get a kick out of running into other fixed rando's. :D

I figured I'd add a couple of things, while I'm at it. First is that for climbing steep grades, I will often brace the back of my thigh against the nose of the saddle for additional leverage. It means that I have to make sure the saddle is clamped down really well or it migrates backward, and after really long rides I'll have a patch of irritated skin on the back of each leg (although I don't notice it while I'm riding), but it helps get me up steep grades, especially when the bike is loaded up for long brevets. I also think it's important to have the bars set up so that you can get a lot of leverage with your arms. That includes levers shaped so you can get a good grip while pulling up as well as being comfortable to ride on while seated. Depending on the grade, I also like to grab the bars behind the hoods, which means they have to have a bend that's more like 90 degrees instead of a wider curve. I find that after a long ride with lots of climbing, I feel it in my upper body as well as in my legs.

As far as descending goes, it's something that I think just takes a long time and lots of practice to get good at. My natural tendency, personally, is to enjoy descents and to be a slow climber. But it took a few years of riding almost nothing but fixed, including lots of fixed brevets and other long rides, before I found myself reverting to that tendency and not feeling like the descents were taking a lot out of me anymore.

I also got better at settling into a comfortable rhythm at lower RPMs, which means I can climb slower. That doesn't necessarily sound like a good thing, but it is if it means I can get up more hills at a sustainable pace instead of blowing up because I had to push too hard to turn over the gear. I'm sure it doesn't look comfortable (I'm always afraid people assume I'm some dumb chick who doesn't know how to shift) but I can get up hills at 15 RPM and still be able to comfortably converse at that pace.

In any case, it's a really good idea to know how hard you can corner. On my brevet bike, I have a relatively high BB, 165mm cranks, and low q-factor, so for the most part I don't ever have to worry about pedal strikes. Knowing that, I've found that curvy descents tend to be something of an equalizer in that on long, steep straightaways I max out my RPMs and get dropped eventually; but on curvy ones the curve is the limiting factor before I'm going fast enough to max out the RPMs, so I can often drop geared riders on curvy descents.

I don't necessarily think that riding a fixed gear for long rides has to be more painful per se. All the normal stuff about bike fit applies, and and over the long haul it's definitely going to be slower over most terrain, but it doesn't have to hurt. :)

Muffin Man 02-28-13 02:01 AM

I wish I saw this before my 112 mile ride on Sunday. My Achilles tendon is dying right now :(

jlafitte 04-06-13 02:40 PM

Anyone have anything to say about gearing in relation to cadence? I've been riding 46x17 and recently completed a 200k and some 100k rides, averaging 15mph at about 70rpm. Although my power and endurance are slowly improving (been riding regularly since late last year), a couple days ago I switched to 46x21, which gives me about 90rpm at the same speed. The ride experience is vastly improved at this lower gear -- it feels like the bike just comes to life.

But I'm wondering how undergeared this is for the long-term, and if I should be expecting or working toward being able to sustain 90rpm or better on the higher gears. The rides here in South Louisiana are pretty flat, but I would like to prepare for brevets which are more challenging in both distance and climbing, and maybe try to complete a super randonneur series in a year or two.

Coluber42 04-13-13 11:18 PM

I think gearing and cadence are a matter of personal preference and riding style. Unless you're riding something ridiculous, changing your gear isn't going to make you much faster or slower, but it might easily make you a lot less comfortable. I also think that if you keep riding a lot of long rides over a number of years, downhills at high cadence keep getting easier, and you also get better at going uphill comfortably at a lower cadence. If you're not undergeared on flats, you're probably fine in the hills. FWIW, I've encountered riders on 1200's riding everything from 60 gear inches to over 80. I like a 70" gear, personally. On my first 1200, there were two other fixed riders who both had gears in the low 60 inches, and I had my 70" gear. In the end, one of them finished ~20 minutes before me and the other finished ~20 minutes after me. So go figure.

I think if you're happy for the time being, stick with it. If you get halfway through the ride and start wondering whether you picked the right gear but you can't decide whether you think you should gear up or gear down, then you picked the right gear. ;)

Italuminium 05-26-13 07:46 AM

I'm recently taking my FG on rides outside the big city (oh! Exciting!), and one thing I do is a little weird, maybe: on the descents, I just take my feet of the pedals and just let the bike fly! With brakes of course. Anyone else doing this?

cali_axela 06-05-13 03:08 PM

That does not sound fun to me at all. I actually am starting to enjoy spinning madly on the descents.

I did my first metric century last weekend, hope to do a full century sometime in June.

The Octopus 06-07-13 09:45 PM


Originally Posted by Italuminium (Post 15668664)
Anyone else doing this?


I think it's really tough to control a bicycle without your feet on the pedals (and preferable clipped into the pedals). I have 2 kids and a wife and a mortgage and a job that I cannot show up for covered in road rash, so I stay clipped in. Learn to turn 180+ rpm -- takes practice, and if I weren't also 40 years old, I could likely top 200 rpm -- and your need to unclip will disappear. :)

Italuminium 06-11-13 04:10 PM


Originally Posted by The Octopus (Post 15718674)

I think it's really tough to control a bicycle without your feet on the pedals (and preferable clipped into the pedals). I have 2 kids and a wife and a mortgage and a job that I cannot show up for covered in road rash, so I stay clipped in. Learn to turn 180+ rpm -- takes practice, and if I weren't also 40 years old, I could likely top 200 rpm -- and your need to unclip will disappear. :)

LOL, never realy thought it as dangerous... Steering is just fine. The biggest moment of fear I had when I suddenly LOST my clips at over a gazillion rpm...

rocks in head 06-27-13 02:40 PM

Re: bombing downhill unclipped fixed

Done it, and it's a blast! Unfortunatley, the instinct is to put the feet on the front canti brakes - those are not pegs for feet - you need them at the bottom / on the way down! Also, if there are any pedestrians it usually gets looks.

It's not bad with good brakes on terrain your'e familiar with, and little/no traffic. You just have to be sure you aren't bumped out of the saddle or anything. Usually your legs take some of your weight, and with it all on the saddle - you take a big bump and it's all done, brakes or no. I prefer to stay clipped in almost all the time.

bowzette 06-12-14 08:40 AM

This past Saturday I rode a century in Beaumont, TX. It was hot, humid, somewhat windy and very, very flat-400' of elevation. I've previously ridden two centuries fixed through rollers-3,500' and 4,500'. Riding fixed on very flat roads especially while hot and humid was hard and it was maybe more mentally difficult than physical.
Physically it was like sitting on a trainer at the same level of reasonably high effort and narrow cadence range. It was really taxing on a limited muscle range continously repeating the same motion and effort. I'll not complain about rollers and "reasonable" climbs again. Confirming what I had previously read that hills and rollers are your "friends" if riding a long distance on fixed gear.

belacqua 06-23-14 06:21 AM


Originally Posted by lhbernhardt (Post 13686298)
In the rain, I prefer using the shorter "race blade" fenders. This lets you dust the back tire as you ride. On a freewheel, you can use full fenders and just reach down below the bottom bracket to dust the back tire.

Luis: Can you explain "dusting the back tire"? The concept is new to me.

lhbernhardt 06-23-14 10:46 AM


Originally Posted by belacqua (Post 16874302)
Luis: Can you explain "dusting the back tire"? The concept is new to me.

This is when you lightly hold your gloved hand over the rolling tire in order to remove any little shards of glass or metal it might have picked up when you rolled thru that patch of loose crap at the last intersection. The front tire is dusted with your hand just in front of the fork crown. On the rear, you dust the tire between the seat stays and seat tube. Just make sure your hand doesn't get caught between the tire and the seat tube; it CAN happen! Hold your hand close to the seat stays.

You only need to do this for smooth, thin tires. You've probably already seen this done by experienced riders and just didn't know what it was called.


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