• One Gear to Rule Them All

    Stories and advice from some of your favorite epic single-speeders

The best piece of advice you can yell at a single-speeders during a race is “SHIFT!”. They will want to laugh (because that joke is obviously hilarious…), but they’re probably in too much pain. The Epic is already a challenging course, and these guys kick it up a notch by throwing away all those pesky gears and choosing only one – which is hopefully the correct choice.

We wanted to know a little more about what makes our special crew of single-speeders tick, so we asked them a few questions about The Epic. If you’re thinking about taking on The Epic as a single-speeder there might even be a few good pieces of advice. Enjoy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself; job, family, favorite rap song

Thomas Adams: I’m the product manager for JB Camera Designs. Basically it’s arts and crafts for grownups. CNC/laser operations. I have my dog Rufus, and Gabbi and her parents. My favorite rap song.. either “gold digger” by Kanye or “Till I Collapse” by Eminem.

Jason Irwin: I’m originally from Topeka, KS. I recently full filled a life long dream of living in Colorado. I moved to Colorado Springs in May 2017. I have been a full time machinist since I was 18 and I’m now 28. It’s hard to choose just one rap song. One that comes to mind while riding bikes “Roll all day” by Ice Cube.

Marc Thierry: Service Manager at Bike Stop L.S. Married to the wonderful Renee Thierry. Right now “Young” by the Arcs gets me ready to Jam

Why single-speed? You know they make bikes with gears these days. I hears some of them are even electric and controlled by bike wizards. 

Thomas Adams: Why Single Speed? It’s where I started. The simplicity and the sense of accomplishment when finishing well next to strong geared guys. Aka Don Daly

Jason Irwin: Single speed because I’m not very smart. If I had a bike with too many gears I would have to do a bunch of math a physics in my head to figure out what gear to shift to. Also when do you shift, before or during the hill? I just want to ride my bike.

Marc Thierry: The Singlespeed is always ready to roll! Low maintenance, Just pedal.

What gear selection did you choose for The Epic? Why did you choose that gearing, and do you feel like it was the correct choice?

Thomas Adams: I chose 44/23 for the 2017 edition of The Epic. 2016 I had 2:1 ratio. For this course, the fastest SS climber is going to win. It’s a long day with half of Everest to go. Being able to climb and not walk is a big deal. Just have to have balance and not spin out in the few flats. This year was a lot different. Torrential flooding and lightening everywhere.. but I think my gearing this go round was going to work really well later in the day for me.

Jason Irwin: I think it was 36×18. All I remember was I wish I had another tooth on the back cog.

Marc Thierry: 36×17 on 29er tires is the secret combo for Epic.  It is one gear easier than what I normally ride in the KC area. Perfect, only walked a couple times…

What was the hardest part about riding The Epic on a single-speed?

Thomas Adams: The hardest part about riding The Epic on a single speed? It’s just a long day. You just have to go into it knowing it’s going to be hard. Maybe wishing i was a Dingle Speed just to have that extra range!

Jason Irwin: Hardest part about riding that race SS was the constant up and down hill all day. As the day grew longer the legs became weaker. I remember starting a couple minutes after everyone because I had a flat tire on the car that morning. Almost positive the guy in the hotel room next door unscrewed my valve stem core. Luckily I used my bike pump. Anyways I’m getting off topic, what I was getting at was the first big climb I remember catching up to a lot of people and passing them. I felt great, but there was still 150miles left with 13k climbing.

Marc Thierry: Tunnel Damn area was tough, especially at mile 100ish

What was your favorite part of The Epic?

Thomas Adams: Favorite part of The Epic? The views. You can get up so high on these roads and see over everything. That last descent into the finish is such an incredible feeling. Whether pouring rain or perfect whether, the country is beautiful out there. Well done event. Love those dirty, dirty dog guys.

Jason Irwin: My favorite part of the epic was the constant tree coverage from the sun. Even though most the day I raced it was a misty wet morning. It was still great riding through the Ozark trees.

Marc Thierry: Tunnel Damn area, and crossing waist  deep creeks…. EPIC!

We hope to see a lot more single-speeders at this years Epic. You’re probably due for an epic adventure, so pick a gear and join us for some Ozark gravel goodness!