Edging Nearer The Mountain

I'm one step closer to Mont Ventoux glory - my bike choice is sorted...

Contemplating the evils of flip-flop hubs

Slowly but surely things have started gathering momentum. Barnardo’s have been in touch and are sending a sponsorship pack and jersey whilst Justin Burlsa, a small-scale frame builder, has graciously offered a Ti frameset with carbon fork. This should form the basis of a mighty lean, compliant climbing machine. I am deeply touched by the number of people who have taken great interest, willing me forward and generously offering sponsorship. One fella even wants to join me on the climb!


Fixers might only require the minimum of parts to make them behave in good proportion but these need careful consideration. Braking will be courtesy of (two) dual pivot callipers and I’ve settled on ISIS cranks for maximum power transfer. Being deceptively broad-shouldered (requiring large jerseys and 44cm wide drops) I‘m opting in favour of a Nitto bar and stem combo- big flared drops and a high lustre Ahead stem for comfort and control.

There’s rumour of three speed fixed transmission, last popular in the 1950’s making a return. However, to my knowledge the only commercially available unit is in kit form – something I’m not completely sold on so I returned to the drawing board. Some tales of ascending Ventoux on gearing in the mid 60 inch range might be plausible but I fear this a bit steep. I’m running a double fixed hub with gearing in the mid 70 inches at the moment, which is fine for general riding but even under a cloak of darkness, it’s a real struggle up the local gradients and several miles continuous climbing leaves me fighting for breath. Jokingly referred to as a vampire, my powers seem considerably reduced during daylight hours – even when indulging in the luxury of my geared cyclo crosser!

Taking all this into account, I’m settling on a flip flop hub with a bail-out (fixed) gear working out at 37.2 inches (based around a configuration of 170mm crank length and 700X23 tyres) which should winch me up the climb with the freewheel providing respite en route down. Tongue firmly in cheek, I’ve publicly denounced flip/flop units as the devil’s work but I’d sooner this than having to assume a position more befitting to the Karma Sutra once revolutions on the descent reach warp speed. Screaming down a long hill with worn shoe cleats taught me this very valuable (and undignified!) lesson some two winters back.


Next it’s the finer details of route planning and clothing choice but that’s for another day.