In Others’ Words: Switching Gears

 

ten speed bike redo 2015

 

I haven’t been on a bicycle in oh . . . wow . . . about five years now. When the vertigo came along and took my balance on one very long roller coaster ride, I took a break from bike riding.

The good news is, I haven’t had any problems with vertigo lately — except for one brief episode a couple of weeks ago. Emphasis on the word brief. Maybe it’s time to drag the bike out of storage. If I do, I promise to post photos here.

I have to admit that Charles Schulz called it right for me when he said that most of us have gears we never use. He was talking about both bikes … and life. Yep. Guilty on both counts.

I like riding along in middle gear. Middle gear is comfortable. It’ll get me up and down most hills — and allow me to coast too. No need to switch gears. No need to do that mis-switch. You know what I mean — that attempt to switch gears when nothing happens. Nothing engages … and you’ve got no ability to power your bike forward.

Awkward.

Useless.

Frustrating.

Why not just stay in that nice comfortable middle gear that works?

Why not? Because an experience cyclist knows there are ten gears on a bike. 1.2.3.4.5.6.7.8.9.10. And if the manufacturer made ten, then there must be a reason for all ten of them. A time to use each one of them. Biking isn’t about being comfortable. It’s not about coasting all the time. It’s about knowing the bike — making the bike work for you to the best of it’s ability — and to the best of your capability.

You’re smarter than the bike. Remember that. Use all the gears you have at your disposal — on and off a bike.

In Your Words: Where have you been settling for middle gear? Where is your life set on “comfortable”? How could you switch gears and try something different? 

 

 

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7 Comments

  1. March 23, 2015, 7:01 am   /  Reply

    I had to think about this for awhile…as usual. Brain like molasses today.

    It’s true, but it isn’t. The new gears are developed, installed and tuned, if you will,. by intentionality. I don’t think they are there to begin with.

    There is also an implicit judgement that might do more harm, for some, than good.

    There’s nothing wrong with middle gear, when it gets you down the road, because life isn’t about the process of riding; it’s about destinations, about what you do en route.

    Kind of like the training for a sniper. There are a ton of sharpshooters out there who can hit the black at a klick all day long. But shooting is just a small and necessary skill for a good sniper, a component that makes up a package that can be successfully applied to given mission parameters.

    Some are not Olympic-quality marksmen; I believe Chris Kyle considered himself to be something of a mediocre shot. But he had all of the other qualities that made that ‘middle gear’ part of a fearsomely effective package.

    As an example from a different arena, you may remember Johnny Miller, the golfer who was something of a phenomenon in the early 70, winning everything in sight. He was tall and weedy, had kind of a gangly swing, and while other, stronger players easily hit the ball past him, he just had to be strong enough to lift the trophies.

    But he wanted more; he wanted that extra gear, so one winter he increased his strength to match the long-hitting competitors.

    And he lost his game. He never regained it, and his career spiraled into obscurity.

    • March 23, 2015, 8:02 pm   /  Reply

      It always intrigues me how you’re going to approach the quote for the day, Andrew. Middle gear to snipers to golfers.
      You have a fascinating, well-rounded view of the world, my friend.
      And yes, there’s nothing wrong with middle gear … unless that’s the only gear you use. Because middle gear isn’t meant to be the only gear. Middle gear is meant to be one of ten … and what’s the point of riding a ten speed bike if you wear out middle gear?

      (Pardon my delay in responding today. The deadline is very demanding these days.)
      🙂

      • March 23, 2015, 10:03 pm   /  Reply

        Good point…but it does bespeak an acceptance of the ‘ten-speed’ metaphor.

        I’m generally not a fan of using mechanical metaphors or similes to describe people…people are just what they are, rally.

        But I’ve found that most folks I’ve met are rather like some of the transmissions used in dirt-track small-oval racing…they have only two speeds, and one basically tries to get out of first gear as quickly as possible.

        I know I’m that way; if I push out of my effective ‘speed’ there’s a new learning curve, so to speak, to match my new paradigm with the world, and it takes time…and trial and error…to implement. Sometimes it may be worth it, but more often I simply do better at a well-grooved tempo.

        There’s another analogy; before WW1, the British Grand Fleet conducted gunnery exercises in which rate of fire was one of the highest ‘good’ qualities. Fine in itself, but it led to bad habits; the powder came from the magazines in silk bags, which were rammed into the breech behind the projectiles, and to optimize speed bags were sent up to be on hand for quick reloading, rather than going through the cumbersome anti-flash procedures to prevent accidents.

        All well and good in peacetime, but at the battle of Jutland on May 31, 1916, three British battlecruisers blew up after relatively minor hits ignited poorly-stored propellant, and the explosions flashed to the magazines.

        Rigidly following antiflash precautions would have reduced the tempo of fire, yes, but it would have prevented the loss of three capital ships, with virtually their entire crews.

        (That incident gave birth to one of the most famous naval quotes in history, from Admiral Sir David Beatty, on watching the second ship explode: “Something is wrong with our bloody ships today.”)

  2. March 23, 2015, 8:58 am   /  Reply

    Interesting observation, Andrew. I bike in warm weather all over town and a lot of times I find myself sticking to the middle gear because it gets me where I’m going. There’s a chance if I change gears, especially at the wrong time, the chain will come off. Been there, done that, have the black fingers to prove it.

    Great post, Beth.

    • March 23, 2015, 8:03 pm   /  Reply

      Good point, Pat.
      And yes, there are days when middle gear is fine — the absolute right gear. And changing to another gear would create problems.
      But sometimes it’s nice to get out of town and go exploring — and that might require changing gears.
      A good thing, yes?
      🙂

  3. susan
    March 23, 2015, 1:58 pm   /  Reply

    Interesting. I’ve never even thought of that. I definitely stay in one gear on my bike…unless I’m going uphill. I guess it does mirror life. Making me look at areas where I could be coasting a little:)

    • March 23, 2015, 8:04 pm   /  Reply

      Hey, Susan.
      For me the problem becomes when I stay in middle gear so long that I have a problem switching gears when I need to — like going up hill … or the inevitable descent that happens on the other side.
      Yeah … I need to know how to ride a bike, come what may.

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