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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.