Some things are really obvious to most people, but for those of us who are mechanically challenged (mechanical intuition challenged?), an important concept when riding a bicycle equipped with shiftable gears --
When going UP an incline (or just prior to), shift DOWN and when coasting DOWNwards, shift UP to a higher gear.
Learn from the (embarassing) mistakes of others. Or from a couple emails I wrote to a friend who has more bicycling skills than I do.
subject: here's a funny thing..
Hey Jen. So I brought my bike to school this past weekend.
It sat in the trunk of my car all week, I was kind of too scared to take it out for fear of what might happen. The trip to the grocery store with a couple friends was a little difficult, but we managed to fit most our grocery bags into the car seats and thus we did not have to disturb the bicycle.
Finally I thought: It's Friday. I'm going to do this.
So I started taking the pieces out of the car. Well there were only three. Main frame thing with back wheel, front wheel, and seat. I managed to put it back together!
Then, first time since junior high, I started to ride this bike. Can I just say that it is not as easy as it looks? Even 30 seconds on the slightest incline and I felt like I had just sprinted 400 meters! I had actually thought it would not be that bad because I've been running 6 miles a week the past few weeks. But apparently those bike riders who make it look leisurely have something that I do not. What is the secret, my friend?
raine, well-practiced in bike-walking.
subject: day 2: an update
here is my day 2 update of the bicycling saga. having had the weekend to recuperate, i decided to attempt getting on and riding again to class today. Just about as difficult as Friday :P unfortunately... well, maybe a little better because i had actually thought about my route beforehand and decided where i wanted to go. but still really hard on inclines!
then lunchtime rolled around and i was complaining about my bicycling incompetency to some friends. and my friend justin (smart engineering guy!) informs me that to overcome hills, i'm supposed to shift to a LOWER gear, not a HIGHER gear. Ha! anyway, i was all excited about my newfound knowledge, but i wasn't able to test it out until much later, 8 hours later, after my work shift. and it works pretty well! this shifting down thing. silly me. still need more practice though. i read some handy article things about bicycles and gears and stuff online. we'll see what's next...
raine, slightly less pathetic-seeming