Gimme Granny Gears!

Not sure what’s up with the alliterative post title trend, but there’s every possibility it will be gone by next week. Hope you can bear with me! Last Saturday, the winter Team in Training group met at the corner of Page Mill and El Camino for a 25 mile bike ride on what turned out to be a pretty nice, albeit rather chilly day. Now there were actually quite a few interesting notes about this ride.

  • The advertised 25 miles turned out to be 37 when the route sheets were handed out (yay for coach-speak).
  • My shoe covers are probably one size too small and I spent a full 20 minutes trying to wrangle them onto my shoes (and then another 10 trying to get them off post-ride. I eventually gave up.)
  • There was a cycling team wearing coordinated bright yellow jerseys and shorts that called themselves Lemonheads. There’s a joke title in there somewhere.
  • I only brought enough food for a two hour ride and was literally vibrating with exhaustion by the last climb. Even when I plan ahead, it goes wrong.
  • Someone shouted “F–K YOU” as they blew by me in their Land Rover on the very last descent. I was on the far side of a huge bike lane; nowhere near them. I was exhausted and they scared the crap out of me doing a good 25mph – started shaking and thought I was going to fall right over into traffic. I didn’t, but I’ll never understand how people can be so mean.


And yet none of these were significant enough to make the title. How can that be, you ask? A complete and utter lack of small ring usage. I first noticed something was wrong on one of the smaller climbs on the route. I tried to shift into the small ring (taking it easy while the legs warmed up…shhhhh) and dropped my chain. Hopped off, fidgeted with the parts a bit and went back to climbing. Next hill – same thing. Weird. At this point I had caught up to Provin, so he and I attempted to perform minor bike surgery. A multi-tool, some puzzled faces and several minutes later we determined that we were pretty much out of our league as far as this particular repair was concerned. Must be a class at school that I missed or something. Anyway, for whatever reason, the bike would shift to the lowest ring, but the chain landed such that it was on top of the teeth (rather than between them) about 80% of the time. Woohoo fun!

After about the third dropped chain, I decided to suffer through all the climbs in the middle ring. Getting off and manually manipulating the gears was a pain in the arse – and besides, higher gears makes you stronger…right? I’ll survive! And that’s pretty much how my ride went. I survived the uphill headwind battle on Canada. I survived the soul-crushing windy ascent on Page Mill. And a few others who’s names I forgot but would know if I ever managed to save the route sheets. But I survived it all…in the middle ring! (Does anyone else think this sounds like a cyclist’s version of the “old person uphill both ways” story? I kinda do.) There was one climb where Coach Don warned everyone in advance to drop to their little gears…and I think i injured him with my dagger eyes (not to mention my curse-like-a-sailor tongue). And man was that one a grind. Owwwwwww…

Despite all that, the ride was fun. I got to hang out with Provin and Mauricio the whole time – who I’m not sure I’d ever even met before that morning. We challenged each other to keep going rather than heading back at the 25mile turnaround, and they kept me distracted from the fact that I was climbing everything 10 gears from granny-style. The cold made my arm and shoulder ache like hell by mile 20; hopefully the strength training program and more rides will get that under control in the near future. As for the bike, she’s going to the shop for a fit and a tune-up….ASAP. Good god, I miss the granny gears!

Data incoming soon, I swear! I found the cord and everything

Update 12/11 – BAM! Data!
MotionBased Data – Buddy Ride

Moving Time (h:m:s) 3:21:42 5:20
Distance (mi ) 37.75
Moving Speed (mph) 11.2 avg. 27.5 max.
Elevation Gain (ft) +2,727/ -2,681

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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