Push those Big Gears Boy...
Apples don't fall far from trees, or so they say. As few as the opportunities presented themselves, there were a handful of days over the past summer when I was able to spend some riding time with my, now teenaged, son. What became rapidly evident during those rides was that he, like his father, has decided to worship at the altar of the big ring, that pushing that big gear is the only way to go. All the time, any time, where ever the road or path takes him.
It got to a point where during a ride along the San Gabriel River Trail (SGRT) one day, his bike suffered a mechanical malfunction of the absolute worst sort - he found himself unable to shift onto the big ring. His response to this calamity was that the ride was over, it was no use going on without the big ring. If calamity sounds like a big word when used in this instance, if its use makes you think that I may just be overstating things a wee bit, don't. Teenage can turn, what most of us would consider simple matters, into high drama.
You see, not being able to shift into the big ring, and thus push those biggest of gears, is not just about the pedaling, the cadence, the production of power. It is veritably an affront against ones very person; a way of being, not just doing. Consider this question, "is a ride worth riding without a big ring? Now, let me posit some similar yes/no questions to help illustrate the point: "Is life worth living without you?", "is morning possible without coffee?", "is it pasta without Ragu?", "would a woodchuck chuck wood if he could?" If you realize that the answers to these questions are all "no" than you can understand how the question "is a ride worth riding without the big ring?" fits into the same earth-shattering category.
The only way I could save the day was to shift onto my own small ring, and convince him that, fair was fair, and we would both spin for the rest of the day. It was not a perfect solution, but it was enough; it worked. We both had to deal with the same constraint, and truth be known, neither of us suffered unduly. That last bit shocked us both, and I'm still coming to grips with the ramifications.
I don't know how many times I have advised him to learn to spin but, being both a teen and my own son, his response is always the same - "it's the way I ride, dad." No use arguing the point; if he sticks with cycling long enough, he will eventually get it. He will realize that spinning has a time and a place. Pushing a big gear may show some strength, but knowing when to spin shows some smarts.