What Gear Should I be In

I have a confession to make. It’s embarrassing…especially as a triathlon and endurance sport coach. Please don’t mock me or tease me in public. Okay…here goes…

Bike gears still confuse me.

There, I’ve said it and I’m feeling an incredible weight lifted, getting that off my shoulders. Wondering if there’s a support group for gear-challenged athletes like me? Why am I the only outsider at a party that can’t participate in the conversation about the benefits of compact cranks?

Don’t get me wrong, I have a slew of books sitting right next to me that go into painful detail about gearing and ratios. But as a self-proclaimed math dummy….the minute my brain sees fractions and ratios, it strays to things like SpongeBob, the new pair of running shoes I want to buy or (for those of you that know me well) what I am going to eat next. But I digress….

Can’t someone just make it easy to understand?

Thankfully, I stumbled onto an article by Jim Gourley – 4 time Ironman and Race Across America athlete – putting gear ratios into fairly easy terms.

One juicy nugget to take away (that was new to me):
“What we discover is that eight out of our 20 possible gear combinations are redundant! In other words, there’s virtually no difference between 39:17 and 53:23. Why the redundancy? Well, because of the way your derailleurs align your chain, going with a 53:23 actually causes a situation known as cross-gearing, in which the chain has to bend laterally so much that it increases friction and causes unnecessary wear and tear on your drive system.”

I knew cross-gearing is bad. What I didn’t know is that if you find yourself in a cross-gearing situation, you can shift down to your small chain-ring a achieve the SAME EXACT GEAR RATIO! Wow…so much for the argument of always riding in one chain-ring. Knew there were two for a reason. (ha)

It’s not long. And it doesn’t truly explain the cosmos. But hey, it did shed some light on the mystery of those things on my bike that always leave neat grease tattoos on my leg after each ride.

Perhaps my next blog should be “Why do some get grease on their calves and others don’t. Do we just have fatter calves?”

Read more at ACTIVE.COM

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