I was thinking of the bike I had when I was courting my now husband. I was very proud – it had 3 gears!! And I had no problem pedalling up the very long hill he lived at the top of – love eh? I also remember coming down self same hill with feet on handlebars and across the A1 at what is now a major roundabout, after having martinis with his Gran! How times have changed.
Now I am not really a mechanical person, I leave all that to Hubbie and I do get a little confused with all the number of choices out there as regards to gearing, ratio’s, speeds… even the jargon gets me sometimes. However, I do know that without knowing how to shift gear and when, the number of gears you have is completely irrelevant. I know this how? By the number of times I have come off at the start of a hill by trying to go into the wrong gear at the wrong time. It’s like hitting a brick wall, is very inelegant and is accompanied by some rather fruity language on my part. Not to mention the laughter from companions, passing tractors, sheep….
So, I have learned to anticipate the hills where possible. It has eventually sunk into my very untechnical brain that the lower the gear, the easier it is to pedal. So if you are in number 1 on both gear changes (left and right handlebars), you are in the lowest gear possible. 3 and 8 and you are in the highest or hardest. Especially in my case. There is no ‘right’ gear to be in though, it’s all a matter of personal preference and fitness. I may start out at the bottom of the hill half way between the two extremes and end up in the lowest at the top, whereas some of my (lot) fitter friends are still nearly in the highest ratio at the top of the hill. Show offs.
Sometimes no amount of gears will get me to the top. When I am travelling so slow that someone walking overtakes, so slow that I am nearly at a standstill, can’t balance and am in grave danger of keeling over, I know it’s time to put pride aside and dismount.