Tuesday, November 6, 2007

train the trainer

Saturday I did my second ride of this training season for the AIDSlifeCycle 2008 event, and my first ride as a training ride leader. We did a short route, and one that I had done dozens of times before, but I learned something new. We rode 24 miles, doing a double loop around the flat areas of Griffith Park to the north of the park. I and two other ride leaders from my group led a group of about 12 cyclists. Another group did a longer ride.

What I learned has to do with the most efficient use of the gears. Modern road bikes are usually set up now with two or three gears called "rings" at the pedals and 9 or 10 gears at the back. My set-up is a very common 2 and 10. What I learned is that the best approach to shifting gears when the terrain will be mostly flat is to pretty much leave the chain in the highest ring all the time and only shift up and down through the 10 options of the back gears. And when the terrain will be more varied and include some climbing, to leave the chain in the lowest ring all the time. It's easier on the bike to shift this way, and it's also easier on the brain to think about moving through a direct series of ten gears, then back and forth through the various combinations of 2 rings and 10 gears, many of which overlap in their ratios.

It's a subtle point but helpful. And it's nice to see that through the process of teaching others I'm also improving my own knowledge and experience.

1 comment:

jfield said...

I have an older bike with 3/7. Sometimes I laugh when I ride 20-30 miles but shift like I am basically on an old 5 speed beach cruiser.

I'm struggling a lot to learn to use the gears to keep my cadence regular.