Santa Fe by Single Speed

The simplicity of a single speed bike. I have a love hate relationship with this simplicity. Upon contemplation of why I both aim to ride a single speed bike and yet stress over the ride, I’ve determined that I am trying to make riding a bike harder than it needs to be.

I’m trying to remember what it was like to ride a bike as a child. I didn’t worry about getting a flat or wiping out on a steep downhill littered with loose gravel. My ignorance of those possibilities did equal bliss. Now, I find it hard to look beyond potential accidents waiting to happen. This has resulted in me using a more complex bicycle and gear in hopes that I can alleviate some of these troubles. I carry a lot of stuff with me in case I get a flat or I run into someone else with a flat. I need to have a bike lock, front and rear lights, something to drink and maybe something to eat and if nothing else my wallet so I can buy something to eat or drink in an emergency! It all adds up and I end up needing at least one pannier for a two mile ride. Blah. The ride is rarely spontaneous for me anymore. So, lets just chalk all of that up to me getting older and finding things to stress about seems to be a hobby.

To break this mold I’ve made for myself I took a ride to downtown Santa Fe yesterday on a 3-speed bike I’ve just finished renovating. Hannah joined me on a single speed to see if it was possible to throw all cares out the window and just pedal along and enjoy the wind in your face. Indeed it was!

For this joyride I took my Rudge Sports made by Raleigh. It has 3-speeds, a front hand brake and rear coaster brake. I managed to load it down with some saddle bags (old habits are hard to break…) It isn’t a perfect fit for me but it is in great shape and handled the hilly terrain well and it has a cool chainwheel.

Rudge Sports Made by Raleigh

Rudge Sports Chainring

Hannah rode her J.C. Higgins Flightliner; the first bike we ever renovated! It’s still in our fleet and performed admirably with it’s single speed set up and solo, rear coaster brake.

JC Higgins Flightliner Santa Fe NM

We used a combination of bicycle paths and side streets which included a dark underpass for St. Francis but it had a neat wall with relief design.

Gail Ryba Trail underpass in Santa Fe NM

Rudge Sports in Santa Fe NM

Once we reached the downtown Plaza we relaxed for a bit and watched some local musicians busking. Many Native Americans sell their wares just outside the Palace of the Governors along side the Plaza and we strolled along there as well.

Santa Fe NM downtown plaza

From the Plaza we wandered over to Mellow Velo, a local bicycle shop, and ogled some Vicious Cycles they had in stock.

Moving on we rode along Paseo De Peralta to Canyon Road which is the main drag for art galleries in Santa Fe. At least one hundred and fifty of them! We’ve only toured four of them so far and stopped for a couple of shots.

Hannah at Canyon Rd Santa Fe NM

Bicycling in Santa Fe NM

JC HIggins Flightliner in Santa Fe NM

Outside the Gerald Peters Gallery Santa Fe

Finally, the wonderful New Mexican sunshine drove us back home for shade, refreshment and siesta. Along the way we passed some beautiful sunflowers which seem to grow naturally in northern New Mexico.

Santa Fe NM Sunflowers

Consensus for the days ride is that yes, you can ride a single speed around Santa Fe and yes it is good, grinning fun. The kind of fun you had as a kid.


2 thoughts on “Santa Fe by Single Speed

  1. I like Hannah’s bike! Is that the kind with a back pedal brake? That’s the kind my friend Lois had and she would let me borrow it to ride around the block. Again and again and again. That’s the kind I would bump, bump, bump along the boardwalk in Wildwood with, when I was 12. That’s the kind I would be able to get on and off of without killing myself. Maybe that’s why I don’t like biking anymore. It is too hard and too complicated and too dangerous to ride on when you are my age and can’t concentrate on switching gears and steering and squeezing the handle brakes. Can I borrow it when I come out there?

    • Yes. A “back pedal” brake is called a coaster brake. Yes, you can ride it when you come out here!


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