Thursday, September 1, 2011

Can the Goblin teach an old dog new tricks?

**** This post has been sitting for too long waiting on photos. If they turn up I will put them out there ***

My husband bought me my first mountain bike in Oct. of 2007.   It had gears and weighed in at 35 lbs. I had a lot of difficulty learning how to ride and learning to shift gears at the same time. It was very overwhelming. He saw my frustration and within six months he handed down his Spesh single speed.  I only had to pedal and keep the rubber side down.

Fast forward to this year, getting the Airborne gig, and receiving a geared bike.  I was determined to give it another try.   I know how to ride a bike now, I know how to climb hills, I know how to jump stuff,  ride rocks and techy stuff.  I just need to learn what gear to be in when I do these things. How hard could it be?

Heading out 

This past Sunday, there was a 3hr race pretty close to home.  I  heard  this race was fun, well organized, and the course was fast and flowing.  I figured this to be a perfect race to see where I am at with the Goblin.  I did a practice lap and liked the course, but found it more ss friendly. There was a lot of little grunts and a small hill that would put me all over the gears.  My plan was to learn and hang in there for the full 3 hours.

Sitting at the start line I realized I forgot my gloves.  Very bad move .  It was only 92 but, very humid.  I almost crashed while trying to hold on to the bars with sweaty hands. Before starting lap 2 I got my gloves on and resumed chasing the 3 girls ahead of me.  Around Lap 3, Mother Nature gave me a present. You know me well enough to know I did not stop.  Thanks goodness for padded black bibs.

Like my bell?

I kept pedaling and getting frustrated with myself.  It seemed that I was in the wrong gear about 80% of the time.   I will spare you the details of wanting to quit.  About Lap 5 I started repeating " this is only a test" in hopes it would relax me a little.  I did not want to think of the 3 girls ahead of me making it look so easy. I completed 8 laps, which was good enough for me.  I thought I would have done better. But why?  It took me over 3 months to learn my cross bike's gears, and that was on the road.  Why did I think I could learn gears on a mountain bike in a couple of months?   I don't want to give up just yet. But, how long does it take?   Those nice folks at Airborne said I could make my Goblin a single speed if I wanted, so there is always that option.

There was a terrific partay on the hill, after the climb.  They were serving up Pabst, ice cold.  One  surely wouldn't hurt me.  Kellan, my bar tender on said hill, made sure to have a cup of swallows ready for  me. Thanks Kellan and Cyclewerks for a great time.

The Goblin and I pedaled our way to a 4th place finish.  I am proud to have hung in there nonetheless. I learned that I am not ready to race the gears just yet. And I see a lot of practice in my future.  Seriously tho, how long did it take you to learn gears?


  1. Most of us learned gears slowly over a long period of time, almost without noticing. I suspect it's like learning a language.

  2. Ha. I feel your pain. I even said this past weekend that I ought to just ride a singlespeed bc I'm never in the right gear (whatever that is) anyway. I'm just going to hold onto the comment above me and figure if it was learned by others over a long period of time, I'm on target...eventually.

  3. Not that i'm in a position to give advice, but you have to think about your gear as much as you think about what line to take, how much to brake, and how much effort to put into a climb. I'm constantly changing gears. As soon as my cadence slows, i drop a gear or two, as it speeds up i raise it. That way you are keeping a fairly steady cadence and putting out fairly level amount of effort. After awhile it becomes more like second nature, but you still have to think about it. Try to use the gears to stay in the sweet spot.

  4. I will now think of gears as learning a new lingo. And Mark, you are such a humble stud. I would take any advice you had to offer. I will try to find my sweet spot at Council Bluff this weekend. Three days of riding!

  5. Just print up a gear chart in gear-inches with the chainrings x the cassette cogs - if you run the goofy MTB 3 x 9, you will see there is alot of overlap.

    Also, make sure you understand cross chaining restrictions - for example, never run big-big combos or small-small for example. Big-big will rip your derailleur off. In otherwords, it's best if the chain is outboard front and back, and inboard front and back.....not ourboard front, in board back, or vice-verse.

    SRAM twist shifters and older Shimano do have chainring and cog indicatiors (1,2,3 x 1-9). Or run a 1x0 to be more linear.

    I did win some XX shifters and do have an XX crankset I'd like to sell if you want to run a 2x10 setup.

    oh yeah, and run SS if you want - go with what you prefer to ride.

    Tires, em err...i'll get to it. sorry.

  6. Thanks Turg for all that advice. I will let you know about the shifter's and crankset if I decide to go that route. As for the cross chain restrictions, I have figured that out. The hard way of course. I am also proud to have learned the back pedal to get the chain back on. Clearly by accident, but I learned it.

    No worries on the tires. I know you are busy