One of the reasons why I rode a singlespeed for a decade was because I had grown to hate derailleurs. There is nothing worse than being out on a ride, whether a speedy commute to work, a trip to meet a friend at the coffee shop, or on a long climb while mountain biking up Syncline in the Columbia Gorge, and then hear those dreaded noises ... Clank! Pop! Pow! The sound of the derailleur in rebellion. With so many moving parts and a stretching cable it seems like we’re always tinkering with our derailleurs. Or there are those moments when a rock or log rips our beloved 11-speed derailleur clean off.
A number of year ago I signed up to ride in a thirty-mile mountain bike race in the desert. I had trained hard, sweated profusely, and almost passed out from heat exhaustion and dehydration in preparation for the big day. However, not even five miles into the race, while on a steep climb, my derailleur rebelled, decided to break off, snapping my chain and grotesquely bending the hanger. In essence I was screwed. Race over. However, it was ten miles to the next checkpoint so I rerouted the chain, bypassed the derailleur, and made it into a singlespeed. I made it to the checkpoint where my family was waiting. I left the race and went out for pizza with them instead.
The chain goes through an awkward transition when the derailleur gets out of whack ... Clank! Pop! Pow! At times it is almost violent in its abruptness. That's when I said screw it and switched to riding a singlespeed. But that was now years ago in a land and age foreign to life now in the Pacific Northwest ... home of massive berms, big bikes, plaid, loamy trails, and shuttled runs.
So much of what we do is an outflow of who we are. Our families, lifestyles, and the way we carry ourselves is a reflection of who we are. Even the kinds of bikes, the way we ride, who we ride with and so on are as well. We see the world the only way that we possibly can ... through our own eyes and life experiences. That doesn't mean we don't work hard to broaden our horizons and learn to be more mindful of the worldview and perspectives of others. But since we live in our own heads we see what we see.
I long for simplicity. That was one of the draws to the singlespeed. For a decade I didn't have to fret about keeping up with the mountain biking arms race of evolving technology and new standards. I just rode. My bike delivered me wherever my legs could carry me.
I'd like to think that while the days of my singlespeed riding are but a distant memory that simplicity still lives on at Loam Coffee.
Words by Sean Benesh, Loam Coffee Founder and Brand Manager. Photos by Ben Wurmser and Tina Gerber.