Part one of ?
Back in the fall of 2000, my life took another turn. Five years before, I had started to date my wife to be, 2 years before, I moved to Harrisonburg, VA to be with her during her years as a graduate student at James Madison University, and finally in 2000, we were married and moved to Michigan for her first job out of college. I had started mountain biking in the Shenendoah Valley, riding a fully rigid Cannondale M400, all over the trails that made men and women of Chris Scott, Jeremiah Bishop, Sue George, and others, as well as hearing and meeting some of the people of Team Hugh Jass, single speeders/fixed riders that were absolute monsters on the bikes. I was never a great mountain biker down there, a lot of hills for a flatlander from Cleveland, and I found hiking, fly fishing and beer drinking much easier, but mountain biking was something a did a few times a month, and I really enjoyed it.
Why the back story? When we moved to Michigan, there were tens of miles of trails right outside my door to ride and hike, ones I didn't have to drive for 30 minutes or more to get to, so I rode my bike much more often, and when I got my job at REI, I worked in the bike department, and learned how to fix my bike, as well as build that old C-dale up into a nicer bike - only to ride it in only one gear most of the time. Single speeding called out to me, and as time went on, I started to really want a dedicated one-geared machine. And the internet was the place to find information on it. I really couldn't afford it at the moment, my wife got a job back in Ohio, and she was living with friends, eating her own food and helping with utilities and I was living the married bachelor life in Michigan, so no shifting was the singlespeed of choice.
In Michigan, the head bike mechanic's name was Roger, and he had worked in a bike shop outside of D.C. during high school (went to East Coast Bike Academy in Harrisonburg), went to college on a ROTC program, served in the Army, and when he got out, moved into a friends house. We are about the same age, so we hit it off pretty well. One of the things he did was build an old Stumpjumper into a singlespeed, and it was awesome. Having a lot of time on my hands, I read about the "World of Singlespeeding", and by riding my bike without shifting, I was having a blast, and one of the websites I found a bunch of information on was the old Cars-R-Coffins website, with its link page to a ton of singlespeed sites. (I also learned about Rivendell Bicycle Works at this time from Roger - which would lead to other and some related bike bits.) One of the sites of course was mattchester.com, and reading about his experiences, seeing his bikes, and just his general demeanor about life, really influenced me with what I wanted in a bike, and more.
More to come