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  1. #1
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Shift ... Just Do It!

    In the last couple of weeks I've seen multiple riders going up hills in gears so tall that their pedals were barely moving.

    In one case it was two heavy-set women, being a heavy-set man I'm not being critical of this - merely setting the scene. They were straining, really straining, to get up a long incline that was around a 5% grade. Both were riding multi-geared bikes. From the rotation of their pedals, I'd say they were at least two gears too tall. I felt like yelling, "Shift, Shift!!"

    Then today, in 90+ degree heat, I saw a man, slightly heavy-set, working his way up a slight incline of about 2%, and just barely keeping his pedals moving. It made my knees hurt to watch him.

    It makes me wonder why people make it so hard on themselves. If someone is able to power up an incline in a tall gear at an impressive rate of speed, then more power to them. I admire that ability. But when someone is barely moving and is red in the face from the effort to force the pedals down, and they have several lower gears available, why don't they try using them? Especially when they aren't in the greatest physical condition.

    Two of the three had their seats too low too, which doesn't make going uphill any easier.

    One of the biggest reasons I've been able to ride more miles is that I've learned, from reading posts here and from riding with a friend, is to spin one's way up inclines. This has been a great thing to learn.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  2. #2
    Senior Member Coloradopenguin's Avatar
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    I agree . . .
    Went for spin yesterday and had two roadies pass me just before a 1/2 mile, 200' hill. Nothing too bad, but a nice grind. I caught up with one rider about half way up the hill and decided to watch. He was huffin' and puffin' while trying to grind his way up the hill. I was in a low gear, spinning away and having no problem keeping pace. His partner pounded to the top and came back for more, and we had a nice chat while his partner struggled to breathe. The guy stopped at the top to recover while I continued on at my own pace. A few minutes later they waved as they passed.

    By the time these riders are old enough for this forum, their knees will be shot or their thighs will look like Arnold's . . .
    "Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body,
    but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming --
    WOW!!! What a ride!"

  3. #3
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    I was a gear masher in high school, but fortunately learned to spin as I got into college. I've never regretted it, and decades later, my knees thank me.

  4. #4
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    Tom- I think that this BF is rubbing off on you.
    Will

  5. #5
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    As I tell the guys in my group: "downshifting makes you go slower!" The ones you saw are obviously taking my advice to heart, although they're not pedaling hard enough to make the strategy work.

  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Climbing in big gears - the only thing that goes fast is your knees.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  7. #7
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    I have a 3/4 mile 9% hill that I ride frequently as part of a hill training ride. For this particular hill, I alternate between mashing and a good spin... one trip one way the next trip the other way. I do this because the mashing build strength very, very quickly. If, however, it started to hurt the knees, I'd stop in an instant.
    Oh I used to be disgusted and now I try to be amused. But since their wings have got rusted, you know, the angels wanna wear my red shoes. But when they told me 'bout their side of the bargain, that's when I knew that I could not refuse. And I won't get any older, now the angels wanna wear my red shoes.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    One of the biggest reasons I've been able to ride more miles is that I've learned, from reading posts here and from riding with a friend, is to spin one's way up inclines. This has been a great thing to learn.
    Maybe the riders you observed haven't had the opportunity to learn the spinning technique. We get many beginners on the park biking program and they simply don't know how to use their gears.

    I probably spin up the hills 95% of the time but will stand to climb those last few feet on some of the rolling hills in the area.
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  9. #9
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Shimano is investing a lot of time and money in an automatic transmission for the "public"

  10. #10
    Senior Member ?? Beverly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddmaxx
    Shimano is investing a lot of time and money in an automatic transmission for the "public"
    A couple weeks ago one of the riders on the park bike program was riding a Giant with the automatic transmission. We were in one of the parks where the trail goes up and over a dam. I was curious to see how this bike did on the short steep climb to the top so I stopped at the bottom and watched. The fellow seemed to do it effortlessly
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  11. #11
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    It is true that a fair percentage of casual riders rarely shift, or at least rarely use more than 3 gears. My wife and one of my daughters are included in that group. Shifting seems complex to them, and they shift in the wrong direction 50% of the time (or they shift the front cog), so the "easy" way out is to find a gear that is easy to spin on the flats and then just stay in it.

    That's what the two women I observed seemed to be doing. They were in "their gear" and by cracky, they weren't going to shift out of it. Even if it meant coming to a stop and having to walk their bikes up the hill.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  12. #12
    I need more cowbell. Digital Gee's Avatar
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    We're supposed to shift?

    I would, but I don't want to get the bike dirty.
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  13. #13
    Streetfire HopedaleHills's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Gee
    We're supposed to shift?

    I would, but I don't want to get the bike dirty.
    Don't worry, you don't need to shift where you ride
    Tim
    Singing Do Wah Ditty, Ditty Dum Ditty Do

  14. #14
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    So yesterday I was out on a group ride and spinning at a high cadence low gear for training when the ride leader circles back and tells me I wouldn't be struggling so much if I'd get into a higher gear. So it goes both ways, people look at you funny if you're mashing, people look at you funny if you're spinning, common denomiinator: if you're riding some people will always look at you funny.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Terrierman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HopedaleHills
    Don't worry, you don't need to shift where you ride


    Somebody needs to get Gee a band aid here, he's bleeding pretty hard...
    It's all downhill from here. Except the parts that are uphill.

  16. #16
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by backinthesaddle
    So yesterday I was out on a group ride and spinning at a high cadence low gear for training when the ride leader circles back and tells me I wouldn't be struggling so much if I'd get into a higher gear. So it goes both ways, people look at you funny if you're mashing, people look at you funny if you're spinning, common denomiinator: if you're riding some people will always look at you funny.
    Well, in the case of the examples I provided, the three riders were barely moving ... at around 5 mph I'd estimate. So I don't think there was much evidence in support of them being in a high gear.

    If they had been mashing along at 10 mph, I wouldn't have wanted to yell "Shift!" at them.
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L'Amour

    There are two types of road bikers: bikers who are faster than me, and me. Bruce Cameron - Denver Post

  17. #17
    Yen
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    Surly Girly Yen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    It is true that a fair percentage of casual riders rarely shift, or at least rarely use more than 3 gears.
    The first thing I was determined to do when I bought this bike was to learn how to shift. I had bad memories from long ago when I jammed the gears, so I was determined to overcome this anxiety by learning how and when to shift. It helped to ride with Hubby who led us up grades that I may have not tried on my own.

    I'm still not an expert, but I'm so comfortable now that I think I could actually explain it to someone else. I shift often... on grades when I initially could only spin in the lowest gears, now I can use one a little higher (I also work hard at not exceeding my limits).

    Last weekend I read about spinning, which I previously thought was for people who didn't know how to shift into a higher gear.
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  18. #18
    OM boy cyclezen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil
    In the last couple of weeks I've seen multiple riders going up hills in gears so tall that their pedals were barely moving.
    ... From the rotation of their pedals, I'd say they were at least two gears too tall. I felt like yelling, "Shift, Shift!!"
    Then today, in 90+ degree heat, I saw a man, slightly heavy-set, working his way up a slight incline of about 2%, and just barely keeping his pedals moving. It made my knees hurt to watch him.
    It makes me wonder why people make it so hard on themselves....
    would that be like watchin someone come out of a McD's with a sack of SuperSize Fries and yelling "Don;t eat that crap! Its killin ya!"
    or strolling by the Costco food 'court' (where 'healthy' is a felony) and watchin them peel away from the window with a HUmongus HotDog/soft serve/plasticpizza ? DO you yell "Don;t eat that crap! Its a Heart Attack in a Bun"

    I just walk by...

    iff'n they're grindin a 90 incher up a 10% grade, I just ride by...

    hardly even notice em...
    we all make our own heaven and hell

  19. #19
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    The bike manufacturers have worked it so 30 gear combos is considered standard. Yet a lot of people don't know how to work them, or even when. Or, they aren't maintaining things and shifting is not working. bk

  20. #20
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclezen
    would that be like watchin someone come out of a McD's with a sack of SuperSize Fries and yelling "Don;t eat that crap! Its killin ya!"
    My son and I have talked about doing that for a long time. Dressed as SuperHeros, we would go by the names of SlenderMan and Buff Boy the Butt Monkey. Actually we would ressemble the Blues Brothers. Walking up to these 250 pound women scarfing down French Fires at McDonalds, we would take the fries off the tray or, if necessary, out of their hands, and in our best Sgt. Joe Friday voice say "Ma'am, I'm sorry. I can't let you do this. This is for your own good". Then we would run like hell before husband/boyfriend/SO tried to catch us and beat the crap out of us. An infantile fantasy? Perhaps.

    But I digress.

    I think the problem with shifting for the uninitiated is that sometimes it sounds like you're breaking something, especially with the cheaper bikes. So they are afraid to mess with them.

    Not I. I was just thinking yesterday about how much I appreciated a 30X25. Beats hopping off and pushing the bike up.

  21. #21
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    One thing I found out when I started riding a bike years ago is that you have to learn how to pedal. And it has been the case with every newcomer that I have bought on since.

    I am a light rider at 145-150 lbs. I cannot stand on the pedals up inclines in high gears and keep going forward. My riding partner is 220 lbs and can. I started riding with a cadence of around 80 that has gone up to around 95. My 220lb mate started with a cadence of around 60 and has gone up to around 95. You settle out into a cadence that you and your legs like, but that takes a couple of years to sort out.

    Now cadence becomes irrelevant when you are in your lowest gear- and the hill is still going up and has just got steeper. Unless you like walking.
    How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.


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  22. #22
    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    "In the last couple of weeks I've seen multiple riders going up hills in gears so tall that their pedals were barely moving."
    I think this also kind of goes along with new bikers buying a 21 speed with knobby tires to ride a few miles on flat pavement.
    They would be so much better off with a 6-8 speed "single" with street tires.
    Shifting would be far more "logical" for them and they might actually enjoy riding.
    Maybe the manfs. should approach that avenue a little more?

  23. #23
    Erect member since 1953 cccorlew's Avatar
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    Maybe they are just experimenting with the single-speed experience?
    In other forums here, it's all the rage.

    Or maybe they're just shiftless.
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  24. #24
    Senior Member trackhub's Avatar
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    Well, I ride a fixie about 99% of the time. But I also see the folks who simply won't learn to shift. They used be known as the "one speed-ten speen riders", back in the days of ten-speeds.

    And yes, they're easy to spot, legs barely moving, helmet perched on the back of the head, chugging up even the slightest grades in a gear that is just way to high.

    No easy solution here. I think any offers of help would only be met with anger.
    "The People will believe what the Media tells them they believe". George Orwell.

  25. #25
    Senior Member
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    I think we all see people on bikes who are rarely ever biking. The complexity of proper gearing is beyond many such bike users. I know many such people.
    Last week I encountered a young lady (20's) who needed to stop at an intersection of trail to road. She was uncomfortable using or understanding brakes. So she puts her feet down to slow down with feet on the ground. No kidding. Unfortunately not an isolated case. The concept of bringing the bike to a complete stop with brakes is not so clear to all folks out there.
    Ditto, why does one not fall over when a bike moves but fall over when it stops. Do you guys think that is well understood?

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