7.02.2006

performance versus performance art

so often when I see a person's selection of bicycle I ask myself if they are seeking performance or performance art...

in this age of choices people are riding and racing all different types of bicycles...
there are the standard choices of full suspension and hardtail bikes
then within these two groups of full suspension and hardtail there are even more options
so many options

the full suspension can be softtail, long travel, cross country, or free ride
the hardtail can be rigid, front suspension, geared, or single speed
and
there are certainly more and more subgroups of all the groups mention
but...
I see some of these riders or racers some times and I get curious of their intention....
is it performance or is it performance art?
is this fashion or function?

I have been out on the winding single track of Schaffer Farms in Germantown on my cross bike
while out on these trails it always amuses me when I pass the folks on their free ride bikes with all their free riding pads
sure they can "huck jumps" or "clear obstacles" that I can not approach on my cross bike
but... sometimes I see this as too much bike for the trail and maybe for the rider
what draws these people to these machines and the armour that comes with it?

my questioning is not limited to those on long travel freeriding bikes
I often question the motivation of the people who select the single speed or the fixed gear for their bike of choice on a ride or in a race

since the long gone years of the 24 Hours of Canaan I have seen people getting wild and wacky on odd bikes doing amazing things
the Hugh Jass crew from Harrissonburg Virginia are some of the most famous performers in this long history of trying to mix performance are with performance....
these guys can seriously ride...
they manage the mix of performance and performance art

but what about the others....
so many people jumping on the Single Speed band wagon
what is their goal?
what is their ambition?

Eric Roman for the longest time was "the" east coast single speed guru
this guy would ride and race his single speed at levels of performance that so many of us could not achieve with gears
but even Eric has put aside his single speed and gotten back on the geared bike
for years I marveled at Eric Roman's race results
Eric's consistent top expert finishes on his single speed boggled my mind
his efforts affirmed my personal belief in the use of the single speed....
the single speed is an awesome ride option
but....
I feel that the person should ride the single speed only if they would not be greatly disadvantaged
that the rider should ride the single speed if and only if that individual finds no great discrepancy between their finishing times had they riden a geared bike or a single speed
Eric was sponsored to race his single
as his ambitions grow to move to pro he has selected the geared bike as his ride of choice

okay... someone could ask the same question of me
"why is this guy on a cross bike on trails that would be more rational on a mountain bike?"
then there are times when I ride or race my single speed..... then I can get hit with the same set of questions
well.... I have asked myself the same questions
and
I have even tested myself on some of these questions
riding and racing my geared bike on a course.... then riding or racing my rigid single speed on that same course
comparing times
making my result comparisions and my feeling after the race
there are a number of races where I select my rigid Surly Karate Monkey Single Speed
at some races I feel that this is my best option
not just because I enjoy the feel and challenge of the ride on the single speed
but because I do not feel that there is any loss to the absence of gears
no loss in performance
no loss in speed
no loss in finishing time
(if I had the money I would toss a suspension fork on the front.... maybe in the fall)

at the East Coast Classic the Shenandoah Mountain 100 it amazes me all the people riding and racing on single speed
for some this is down with great success
while others suffer on the single speed with great hardship
there are even those at the SM100 on fixed gear bikes
most of which are getting glory for their choice of bikes rather than their finishing time
while there are so many people finishing fast on their single speeds.... as fast on the single as they would be on the geared bike... feeling pain... but no more pain on the single speed than they would feel on the geared bike

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As in life, there is the easy way and then there is the right way. Sometimes riding the singlespeed isn't the easy way, but it just feels right. And sometimes, as in life, we come find that we've made the wrong choice!

gwadzilla said...

yes
some people need to do what they think is best for themselves
even if they do not know what is best for themselves

I have made many wrong choices thinking I was right
I was pleased that I was able to make my own stupid decisions