Changing Gears

“You always want to climb the mountain but, once you get to the base, you don’t go any further!”

A few weeks ago, Dave and I were riding and he wanted me to start getting more comfortable in the big cog.  You know; the one at the front of the bike, the one that connects to my left handlebar, the one that I use when I am on the flats or downhill and want to go faster.   If my description did not make it clear enough, I will: I don’t understand the mechanics of shifting between gears.  Well, I didn’t at the beginning of the summer.  Slowly, it is starting to make more sense.

That’s right.  I am almost 56 years old, learned to ride 2 wheels when I was 7 and I have never figured out gears.  Yet, I can ride a bike fairly well and have been doing just fine with the small cog – until now.  Since I am now able to play outside again – after months of only being on my windtrainer and not running at all – it’s time for me to change gears, literally and figuratively.

Dave has been more than supportive as he has been coaching me back to riding on the road, and he has been teaching me how and when to shift gears.  It just doesn’t come naturally for me.   One day, he kept yelling at me “Big chain ring!  You need to get in the big chain ring!”  I didn’t understand why.  Then he yelled, “You always do this!  You want to climb the mountain but, once you get to the base, you don’t want to go any further!”

I thought about that comment for the rest of the ride and he was right. I want to ride my bike but I don’t want to use all of the gears.  I am quite comfortable spending  my time in the small chain ring.  I’ve been too afraid to explore the other side.

When we got home, I told Dave that I needed to know the science behind gears.  “I just don’t understand the mechanics.  I need a lesson.  I need to understand gears so that I can change them properly.  I can’t do it intuitively like you can.”  So we sat down at the kitchen table and Dave explained the math (not science, yay!) behind it.  He drew the chain links and the crossover between gears, explained how they add and why the difference between each gear is not the same….Slowly, gears started to make sense.

My goal for the summer was to get more comfortable on my bike.  I’ve only been at it for a few weeks and I know that I am improving.  I am feeling stronger, more confident, and I’m shifting in and out of the big cog without being told – most of the time.  I need more practice – a lot more practice- but I will get it.



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