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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Any advice for fixed gear century?

Old 07-04-19, 06:43 PM
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Any advice for fixed gear century?

I'm visiting some family in the midwest and hoping to ride a quick flat century. I've done a couple hilly PNW metrics on geared bikes, so I'm confidant a fixed 100 isn't going to be too bad. My biggest concern going in is I'm not accustomed to 90F temps that are expected. I'm guessing I'll set a hydration alarm for every 20minutes or so.

Any other advice.
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Old 07-04-19, 07:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
I'm visiting some family in the midwest and hoping to ride a quick flat century. I've done a couple hilly PNW metrics on geared bikes, so I'm confidant a fixed 100 isn't going to be too bad. My biggest concern going in is I'm not accustomed to 90F temps that are expected. I'm guessing I'll set a hydration alarm for every 20minutes or so.

Any other advice.
The ultimate test of setup (fit). Maybe carry 3 water bottles. (I often run a third under the downtube. Yes I have to stop to swap it, but it has bailed me out a few times. Or a camelback.

The midwest upwind on a fix gear is where you really see if your bike and position on it work. I set my bikes up to be comfortable for long periods of time with my hands in the drops. Yes, hands over the hoods is more aero and therefor faster and easier. But when you are tired and hit that thing you spaced and didn't see, the drops are a far safer place to be. And upwind on the fix gear is exactly where "tired and spaced" happen.

Probably too late now, but double sided rear wheels can be very nice. Use cogs one or two teeth apart. Going to a larger cog for that long upwind can be a godsend.

Ben (with more than a few fixed gear centuries under his belt)
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Old 07-04-19, 07:26 PM
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Does that mean you'll stay seated for the whole 100 miles? I have to remember to shift to a harder gear and stand up occasionally on long very flat rides.

My Garmin is set with a 6-minute timer repeat for taking a drink. It's helped on hot days. I can't easily catch back up if I forget to drink enough. 20 minutes? I'd have to drink half a bottle if I waited that long!

On a really hot day, two bottles an hour isn't unusual. I plan the route for water stops. It's even nice to squirt a little water on arms and knees at times, too.

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Old 07-04-19, 08:14 PM
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All I can say is...ouch. Not ouch for the legs, but the seat.

I find long, flat stretches somewhat painful on a fixed gear. Easier climbs and especially rolling hills can help to break it up a bit; otherwise, it might be a good idea to stand up and sprint every once in a while! (My fixed gear century had climbing, as did my partly FG partly SS century; I am not brave enough to ride completely flat.)
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Old 07-04-19, 08:18 PM
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How much continual fixed gear seat-time do you have on the bike? Hopefully hours back to back in terrain similar to what you are going to ride.
I've found riding FG centuries to be relentless.
Hour after hour w/ not a single moment to coast and ease over rough surfaces, adjust one's shorts or swap empty bottles for full are minor annoyances you'd never think of on a FW machine but all add up.
As @79pmooney notes fit on a LD/FG machine, and adaption to it are critical.
With no option but to put out the spin and/or grunt on demand as terrain and wind conditions dictate physical stress can be considerable, a well fitted machine with lots of seat time on it is my recipe for century riding.

I use an old road race bike converted to FG w/ two brakes, a machine designed for riding at pace on open public roads for considerable distances. Two bottle cages and two bottles in jersey pockets give good range in the heat. A pump and full flats kit w/ a wrench to remove the rear wheel, front is QR, are carried w/ cell phone and ID/cash/CC/insurance and light food. I know my routes and the distances to service but start early in the heat and pace myself.

Have fun, LD/FG riding isn't for everyone but I enjoy the challenge and it's being part of a long tradition in cycling.

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Old 07-04-19, 08:35 PM
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I have a bike that I left there which should be mechanically sound, but questionable contact points. I don't know what the gearing is, I think low 60gi which is a bit lower than I use for my utility fix. Haven't been on a fixed gear for more than a couple hours at a time, but am fine for 6+hrs on geared bike. I already do ~85% of my riding on a fixed in hilly terrain, so not sure what to expect for riding through midwestern cornfields again after 25 yrs.

One piece of advice I got from a friend is to just get off the bike every few hours to break up the monotony on the legs.

Along those lines, on my geared rides, I use an rando bag. For this ride, I'm wondering if I should use bikepacking bags for food/extra water to encourage me to get off and stretch.
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Old 07-04-19, 09:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
One piece of advice I got from a friend is to just get off the bike every few hours to break up the monotony on the legs.

Along those lines, on my geared rides, I use an rando bag. For this ride, I'm wondering if I should use bikepacking bags for food/extra water to encourage me to get off and stretch.
My centuries which were ridden fixed on a fairly flat route have featured a lot of breaks. It definitely inflates completion time, but makes a huge difference. I do a little just barely out of the saddle now and then and after that no longer works at the next intersection it's time to briefly stop for water, food, map / distance check, whatever.
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Old 07-04-19, 11:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
I have a bike that I left there which should be mechanically sound, but questionable contact points. I don't know what the gearing is, I think low 60gi which is a bit lower than I use for my utility fix. Haven't been on a fixed gear for more than a couple hours at a time, but am fine for 6+hrs on geared bike. I already do ~85% of my riding on a fixed in hilly terrain, so not sure what to expect for riding through midwestern cornfields again after 25 yrs.

One piece of advice I got from a friend is to just get off the bike every few hours to break up the monotony on the legs.

Along those lines, on my geared rides, I use an rando bag. For this ride, I'm wondering if I should use bikepacking bags for food/extra water to encourage me to get off and stretch.
I've only done a metric fixed (it came to about 71 miles total IIRC), so take my thoughts with as big of a grain of salt as you'd like.

You'll want to bring the appropriate allen wrenches along in case you need to tweak your fit mid-ride. Spinning a gear in the low 60's would get old for me pretty quick unless I was planning a leisurely century with lots of braking on downhills and with tailwinds. Somewhere in the very low 70's works best for me, some beasts prefer higher gearing for fast centuries, but this makes riding up steep hills less of a sure thing.
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Old 07-05-19, 06:32 AM
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most of the Midwest isn't all that flat. Granted, not too many big climbs unless you go out of your way to find them. I suppose in some places you could ride 50 miles on a flood plain. Where are you going in the Midwest?
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Old 07-05-19, 08:05 AM
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I'll be in Indiana. I've already checked the topo. Looks like ~800ft over 50m and I'm used to doing that over a two mile grocery/donut run. I've decided to prep and ship another bike for ride. Bumping my gearing up to 68gi and double cages. Going to take a couple extra bottles in a saddlebag along with food.
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Old 07-05-19, 11:57 AM
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Here's The Octopus' advice: https://www.bikeforums.net/long-dist...r-century.html
He's climbed Ventoux by all 4 routes fixed - in one day.
This should be a sticky.
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Old 07-05-19, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by Dylansbob View Post
I'll be in Indiana. I've already checked the topo. Looks like ~800ft over 50m and I'm used to doing that over a two mile grocery/donut run. I've decided to prep and ship another bike for ride. Bumping my gearing up to 68gi and double cages. Going to take a couple extra bottles in a saddlebag along with food.
Good move. (And I'll second bring the wrenches to change seat and bar positions. They weigh almost nothing and will be good for peace of mind even if you never need them.)

For me, 68" is a touch low. I like 70, though 68 is a good guess if upwind is to happen. I'll even go 72 if I am feeling strong/been riding fixed a lot. (Currently 44-17 on two bikes, 42-16 on another.)

Ben
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Old 07-05-19, 12:32 PM
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post

For me, 68" is a touch low. I like 70, though 68 is a good guess if upwind is to happen. I'll even go 72 if I am feeling strong/been riding fixed a lot. (Currently 44-17 on two bikes, 42-16 on another.)
I've got to agree there. 44-17 is more of a climb/roller gear for me; I'd be tempted by 46-17 or 44-16 on a flat route.
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Old 07-05-19, 01:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Here's The Octopus' advice: https://www.bikeforums.net/long-dist...r-century.html
He's climbed Ventoux by all 4 routes fixed - in one day.
This should be a sticky.
I came to post this. It helped immensely when I did my first fixed gear century.

Don't overthink your gearing, just pick one and go.
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Old 07-05-19, 02:17 PM
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I have done many long hilly rides on fixed gear (including PBP), but the thought of riding 100 flat miles scares me. On rolling terrain, you naturally stand up, vary your cadence, use different muscle groups. On fixed gear, flats will be a pain in the ass (literally) after a couple hours. If I had to do it, I would choose 75 to 80 gear inches and plan to stand a lot.
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Old 07-09-19, 04:00 AM
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Yup.

I've ridden my fixed gear bike on a lot of centuries (110-115 miles usually) on Eastern Long Island, which is pretty flat, and several hilly 200k's in eastern PA and central NJ, and that was all fine. But this did not prepare me for a really flat 200k in southern NJ earlier this year. Riding the same cadence for hours on end, no standing up, no coasting, got really tiresome.
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Old 08-13-19, 03:45 PM
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Just Curious

Why would someone prefer to ride a century with a fixie rather than a geared bike?
Additional derailleur weight? Are there century events/races that only allows fixies? Kindly enlighten me, guys.
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Old 08-13-19, 04:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Chetster213 View Post
Why would someone prefer to ride a century with a fixie rather than a geared bike?
Do you enjoy riding a fixed gear bike on the open public roads?
Do you enjoy cycling for 100 miles at a stretch?

If the answer to both is "Yes" then a FG century is a perfectly reasonable and interesting thing you might well do.

If "No" to either then I'll fall back on what the Hardcore Harley Guys say:
"If you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer."

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Old 08-13-19, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Bandera View Post
Do you enjoy riding a fixed gear bike on the open public roads?
Do you enjoy cycling for 100 miles at a stretch?

If the answer to both is "Yes" then a FG century is a perfectly reasonable and interesting thing you might well do.

If "No" to either then I'll fall back on what the Hardcore Harley Guys say:
"If you have to ask the question, you won't understand the answer."

-Bandera
Don't get me wrong; nothing wrong with it. That sounds challenging to me!
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Old 08-14-19, 06:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Chetster213 View Post
Don't get me wrong; nothing wrong with it. That sounds challenging to me!
If you are at "Yes & Yes" to the questions in Post #18 and up for what is a reasonable challenge the advice from the experienced LD/FG riders in this post will be helpful for your 1st FG Century.
Have at it, and enjoy a very traditional cycling activity.

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Old 08-14-19, 12:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Chetster213 View Post
Why would someone prefer to ride a century with a fixie rather than a geared bike?
Additional derailleur weight? Are there century events/races that only allows fixies? Kindly enlighten me, guys.
Sometimes you need a new challenge once you have a bunch of regular centuries under your belt.
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Old 08-14-19, 01:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Chetster213 View Post
Why would someone prefer to ride a century with a fixie rather than a geared bike?
Additional derailleur weight? Are there century events/races that only allows fixies? Kindly enlighten me, guys.
You seem to assume that riding with gears is more fun, or easier, or more efficient, or something like that. If you believe that, fixie doesn't make any sense at all.

But in my experience, fixie is more fun. It's not easier, but it's not really harder either. It can be more of a challenge. It's more like a full contact sport somehow. Some routes are more fun on the fixie, others are not. So it makes sense to choose carefully.
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Old 08-16-19, 01:08 PM
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Fit really comfortable tires. Biggest that will work well on your frame. I like René Herse/Compass. Tubulars work too. Inflate lower than normal. Latex inner tubes are worth it. You are going to get to know your saddle real well. I have fewer saddle problems than anyone I know, long distance fixed will test you and your saddle.

Picking a gear is hard. Plenty of reasons to go up a little and plenty of reasons to go down a little. I would go down a little and not worry about how finish time compares to your geared bike times.
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Old 08-16-19, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by Chetster213 View Post
Why would someone prefer to ride a century with a fixie rather than a geared bike?
Additional derailleur weight? Are there century events/races that only allows fixies? Kindly enlighten me, guys.
Some of us simply prefer to ride fixed. Also a fix gear century is more of a challenge and some of us like challenges. Yes, there is the "perfect" century where the grade, wind, etc. is so perfect that a fix gear is more efficient and easier. But overall, fix gear riding is between 10 and 33% harder. And in hills, it stays hard even at slower pacing. A very hilly century can be just plain hard. Now, some of us "cheat" and bring extra cogs, but that requires stopping, cooling off, restarting and cost. The gear changes help (especially for us older folk) but they are not a free lunch.

I'll be riding a century Sunday with an advertised 4k' of climbing plus 550' to get to the ride and home. I'll go with a 17 and 22 on the hub and carry a 13 and 16. (The 16 in case the 17 feels too low or we have a tailwind.) Also a custom aluminum chainwhip and a Pedros Trixie wrench. I think I can get to the midway/high point just flipping the wheel and swap the 22 for the 13 for the ride home. It will be a real day.

I won't claim I'll be doing more work, putting out more power or anything else that can be measured than if I rode with gears (and perhaps in pacelines I cannot manage on a fix gear). But it will be "harder" in ways that cannot be measured. If you don't believe me, I guess you just have to try it.

Ben
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Old 08-16-19, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by rhm View Post
You seem to assume that riding with gears is more fun, or easier, or more efficient, or something like that. If you believe that, fixie doesn't make any sense at all.

But in my experience, fixie is more fun. It's not easier, but it's not really harder either. It can be more of a challenge. It's more like a full contact sport somehow. Some routes are more fun on the fixie, others are not. So it makes sense to choose carefully.
+! especially the part about some routes being more fun! I've ridden 4 Cycle Oregons fixed. First two were very mountainous and hard, but, the routes had one or two hard climbs and fast descents each day. Not a lot of stopping and changing gears. (I was 59 years old for the first. Going to Crater Lake and down on just one gear wasn't going to happen.) My third Cycle Oregon fixed did some of two days on the Oregon coast highway. That was a nightmare. Hills, both up and down, way too long to be fun on just one gear but way too many to be stopping all time. Leg and crotch killer. I won't do that again.

I like that full contact sport analogy!

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