Higher Gear


In biking, the lowest gear is called “granny gear” or simply “granny.” This gear is so easy to pedal that it pretty much requires no work. However, you won’t get anywhere fast when you’re in granny gear even though your legs are spinning like mad.

(Now, my apologies if you are a real granny but this term did not come about because of grannies like you, of course! 😉 )

Since I got my new bike last year (pictured), I find myself riding a higher gear than I used to on my previous bike, Old Yeller. Old Yeller was a much harsher ride than my new bike, Black Betty (bam ba lam). By the way, you get extra points for knowing the Black Betty reference.

Anyway, back to my story…

Black Betty is a dream to ride. It’s SO easy. Effortless, almost, especially compared to Old Yeller when after a ride I would feel like I had been jumped and beaten by a band of merciless woods pirates or something. And while I’m not in granny gear I did find a sweet spot where I can just cruise all day. But, I noticed a problem: I wasn’t getting stronger.

I ride for several reasons: stress relief, exercise, change of pace, etc. But as a form of exercise if I just sit in “easy” gears then I won’t get any stronger. So, I’ve made a conscious decision to use a higher gear than I ordinarily would. Then, when I get used to that gear, go up a gear again. Each shift upward in gears makes things a little harder but that’s how I’ll get stronger in terms of both leg strength and cardiovascular conditioning

Then I got to thinking, what else in my life can I apply this concept to? Programming, relationships, learning something new… Whatever it is, I’ll get better at it or perhaps get more fulfillment if I just upshift. Just one step — it doesn’t have to be a huge leap — and I’ll get better incrementally over time. It’s a bit of a mental game, too, since one little gear doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

I know, I know… All of this is common sense. But, sometimes I need reminders, common sense or not.

Is there something in your life where upshifting would make you stronger/better?