"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start."
Bike Clinic - Gearing and Hill Info
In order to ride effectively, you need to understand how to work your gears and use them strategically. At the
bike clinic, we went over the following issues:
1) The number of gears you have on your bike can be calculated by multiplying the number of chain
rings on the front sprocket times the number of rings on the back sprocket. Most bikes have three chain
rings on the front and 6-8 on the back. This means that most bikes have between 18 and 24 gears.
2) Your LEFT HAND controls the FRONT brake & chain rings. Your RIGHT hand controls the BACK
brake & chain rings.
3) When you move the FRONT chain ring, you create big changes in resistance. The FRONT chain ring
is your "macro-adjuster." When you move the BACK chain ring, you create small changes in
resistance. The BACK chain ring is your "micro-adjuster."
4) Your EASIEST (lowest) gear is achieved by moving both the front and the back chain ring closest to
your bike. Your HARDEST (highest) gear is achieved by moving both the front and back chain rings as
far away from your bike as possible.
5) Efficient, fast riders are those that are constantly adjusting their gears to create a resistance level
that allows them to spin/pedal the fastest they can without "slipping" as they push the pedal down or
"bouncing" in their seats. This practice runs contrary to what most people ERRONEOUSLY think: that
they are a better rider if they can ride longer in the hardest gear possible. This practice is NOT efficient
because it depends upon primarily using the quadriceps muscles of the legs. Instead, when you spin as
fast as you can, you build up and depend upon the cardio strength of your much stronger heart muscle.
In order to increase the amount of time you are spinning fast, you will probably spend the majority of
your time in your middle front chain ring and be constantly using your right hand to micro-adjust your
back chain so you continually have just the right amount of resistance in your gears to allow you to spin
6) In order to go up a hill as efficiently and easily as possible, you
must do the following things: a) anticipate the hill and prepare for it beforehand by shifting your gears
into the position where your front chain is on the closest/easiest ring and your back chain is on the
outermost/hardest ring; b) For those of you with road bikes, you will bring your hands into the highest
position they can be on your handle bars and bring them as close together as possible; c) as you
progress up the hill, use your right hand to click the back chain closer to your bike making it easier and
easier as you move up the hill; d) when you are in your easiest gear and there is still some hill left to
climb, begin the "Lance Dance" by swaying your body side to side and vigorously pulling your handle
bar up toward you as your push your pedal down; e) once this no longer works, get your butt off the seat
and pedal standing up. Don't be afraid if you have to lean out over the handle bars (for road bikes, this
will necessitate that you shift your hands so that the palms are facing one another and your hands are
placed on outside, top part of your handle bars); when exhaustion over takes you, get off and walk your
bike the rest of the way up the hill - knowing that you have EARNED the privilege!!!!!
7) In order to go DOWN a hill effectively, you also need to
anticipate it and prepare for it by adjusting your gearing first.
Do this by shifting your FRONT chain to the outermost/hardest
ring and your BACK chain to the innermost/easiest ring. Then
as you gain speed on the hill, use your right hand to move the
back chain further and further away from your bike to maintain
spinning resistance as long as possible down the hill. Once you
can no longer keep spinning without "slipping," then you should
assume an aerodynamic, "tuck" position. You accomplish this by
pressing your chest to your thighs, bending your elbows and
squeezing your elbows into your body, squeezing your knees
together and pushing your head out over the handle bars.
8) At the end of any ride, always move both your front chain to the
inside/easiest position and your back chain into the middle so that you are
in a "neutral" starting position for your next ride.
9) If your chain has a tendency to fall off when you move the front/left hand,
then make sure that you put your back chain in the middle before
attempting to move the front chain.
*** Remember that these suggestions represent the "ideal." In your bike rides, just TRI to gear like this as
much as you can. The more you practice these gearing techniques, the easier they will become. And, in
doing so, you will become a more efficient, speedy, and strategic bike rider. Great luck!!!!!