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i finally did my first bicycle race after 10+ years of riding!!!! i entered the cat and kitten cross sponsored by hpcx in jamesburg nj. the race was pretty hilly and sloppy, and a total blast!! i did the cat4 on a singlespeed and finished 32 out of 65. my gearing was a touch to much and i went to hard on the first lap and paid for it the rest of the race. just interested on some feedback on how to process this whole experience!!!! i was 8:53 off the winning time and i only saw one other person on a singlespeed!!!! should i look for improvements by changing gears or am i just kidding myself in thinking i can be compettitive on a ss in cat4? any constructive crititism would be appreciated!

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The sloppier, the more competitive a SS is, period. Obviously it is course dependent, but you might be surprised at how little (if any) disadvantage you have in most cross races. Sounds like you kicked ass for your first time out, and with a slightly better gear to get out of the corners a little faster, you might have been in the upper quarter. Competitive - absolutely. Winning - it can be done (ask Hank, he beat me in all but a couple races last year on his SS).

And hey, if you don't go out hard, you will certainly miss the best lines and lead breaks. If you ain't pukin, you ain't crossin.

Here's a tactic to screw up the geared folk before a straightaway. Using your best imitation of Monty Python's Black Night, yell out "Running away, eh? You yellow bastards! Come back here and take what's coming to you. I'll bite your legs off!"
Wow! Congratulations on your first race, especially on your SS bike.
As for being "competitive", it depends on who or what you're competing with. For me, my biggest competition is me -- specifically, the inner voice that reminds me of all the times I've wimped out, or how tired I am. My primary competition is shutting that voice up so I can keep going and finish the race.
My secondary competition MAY be the other racers -- especially if the course is disgusting. The worse the conditions, the easier it is to Keep Pedaling while others fumble their shifts...
For now, I am SOOOOO happy to be able to race and to experience what that feels like.
Lucky me.
And lucky you, too. Keep at it and keep sharing your reports with us.
Whoo-hoo!
thanks for the encouragement!!! i am gonna keep plugging along on the ss!!!! have a couple minor tweaks for the bike and have about 2 weeks until my next race!!! if one race was not enough, i signed up for another cat 4 and then the ss cat. about an hour later!!!! my new mantra is if you aint pukin, you aint crossin!!!!
congrats on your first race! you can easily be competitive on a SS. it's all a matter of fitness and handling. i find, as FallDown said, the sloppier, the better. SS forces you to turn over your gear, instead of defaulting to a spinny gear.

keep training and learn how to pace your training, and your race effort. i've been racing SS cross for 8 or 9 years and still really enjoy it. once you get the feel for it and find your default gearing, you'll move through the group quickly.

cheers.
thanx man, i am trying to figure out what gearing will work best!! i am running a 42x18. that is the gearing the bike came with. gonna do something with the crank, either new and light or just change to a smaller ring. i can push this gearing pretty well, but my first race was pretty steep the first mile and real technical the second mile!! my next race is flat compared to the last one, i just have to decide, my biggest dilema is the right size up front, i can swap out the rear, but i dont want to have to many gear options. the reason i decided to go ss was for the simplicity!!
I run 39/19. It feels great, especially by the 2nd or 3rd lap, you may feel a little slow at the start(depending on the course) but by the 4th or 5th lap it is good.

Most people I see run at least a 2/1, meaning if your front is still 42, run a 21t.
I race category B single speeds which is like cat 3/4 and I run a 39/18 gearing. Keep it up man!
Every rider and course have different for gear ratios. Here in NorCal where we have grass and dirt, and the usual amount of steep ups and downs, I usually ride a 39x16 and sometimes 17 depending on the day. I am an upper third B racer, no hero by any stretch. That said, at the most recent (childishly fun borderline mountainbike) CX race put on by Pilarcitos' Tom Simpson, it was a brutal but wicked fun twisty and gear crunching course that made me wish for an 18 or 19 instead of my 17 in back.

*** Here's a mechanical tidbit to think about. Each freewheel option change of 1 tooth results in a nice ~5% gear step, and obviously ONLY 1 tooth difference for chain length. To do that with chainrings, it takes a 3 tooth jump. Unless you want to have multiple chains or several short link additions using the SRAM or other manufacturer's powerlink type system, you may run out of space in your dropouts with the required larger tooth changes in the front.

Changing chainrings also requires multiple bolt untightening and retightening, which introduces potential problems and flies in the face of simplicity. It's a hell of a lot easier/faster to change a freewheel then make chainring changes, and freewheels are small, easily transported in a toolbox, and/or you could always have a second rear wheel setup with a different cog as a backup and different gear ratio.

We're supposed to get a little rain tomorrow here, I hope they've underestimated it so we can play in the mud on Sat.

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