Changing Gear: Biking & Transformation

Women Leaders

After languishing in the garage for almost a year I have recently got back on my - still shiny - road bike to explore more of the San Francisco Bay Area. I had many excuses for not riding: too busy with work & family, never quite the right weather or light, if I'm going to ride it should be with the kids, I didn't have the right gear - or I had the gear but no idea how to use it (it was both painful and embarrassing learning how to clip in/out of my new pedals!)... But the lure of travelling further, faster, than I can run or hike has tempted me back on the bike.  

So now that I am cycling, it's not enough to just ride, I want to do it right, to improve my technique - a skill I though I had mastered around 5 years old until trying to keep up with "the boys", to be more efficient (and aching less would be nice too). I have benefited from tips and tricks shared by experienced cyclists, by attending cycling workshops and by experimenting on my own. I have also been interested to observe similarities between preparing for and handling changes on my bike and the way in which I see women approaching change through Coaching...

Changing gear - small shifts: I am still tempted by the "big gear change" - "I need to make a big change to make a big difference" - usually this is when I underestimate my fitness or overestimate the scale of the obstacle in front...and yet there are times when sustaining the momentum and making the right smaller incremental shifts helps more.

Changing gear - big changes: I've learnt to prepare for the "big changes" (see The Chain Falling Off below) to start spinning faster, to make some small shifts in advance and to expect a change in momentum as a result of making a change.

Uphill: Why do I feel I need to work harder than I should, waiting until I've pushed almost to the top before changing gear, or refusing the offer of slipping behind another cyclist, why do I always feel I need to keep something in reserve? Why don't I notice the scenery or those around me on the uphill?

Downhill: What would it take to relax on the downhill and let go of the brakes?

Avoid Stopping: now I know why cyclists run the lights when they can! All that hard won momentum lost...

The Chain Falling Off: Standing on the side of the road - it's not a puncture (where you can potentially blame something else), in my case it's trying to change into the wrong gear at the wrong time. Getting my hands dirty and putting the chain back myself. Being prepared and having the right gear to maintain the bike whilst on a ride.

Me Falling Off: Whether it's falling off the bike on a steep descent, failing to un-clip my shoes in time I've learnt that the amount I get out of cycling is worth the bumps and bruises from the odd fall. As I told my 5 year old when she set off on her first ride - if you're not falling off you're not learning!