Monday, September 18, 2006

All hail granny!

I love my granny gear. For you flatlanders, it's the third chain ring on the front, the really small one. Pop into your granny gear when you climb, and spin your way to the top.

I hear that some cyclists look down their noses at granny, preferring to display their machismo by grinding their way up the hill in bigger gears. Well, if I could, I guess I would to. But as a guy in his late 40s who's only started getting "serious" about cycling in the last few years, granny and I have a good relationship.

Around these parts, you 'll find many riders with the third ring. Charlottesville, Virginia isn't in the flat lands. Just to the west of town, the Blue Ridge mountains rise up from the piedmont. There are epic climbs there: Vesuvius, Reed's Gap, and more, featured in a tough local century ride, the Blue Ridge Extreme (I've got that on my "to-do" list for 2007). When you get to the top of the mountains, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway offer long, long climbs, albeit at gentler grades.

But before you get to the mountains there are miles of good roads for cycling in Albemarle County. And the foothills at the base of the Blue Ridge offer lots of nice riding, with plenty of elevation change (here's a pretty typical ride). I found out early on that it was a lot better to stay in the saddle and spin in the low gears rather than try to stand up and climb like you're conquering Mont Ventoux on OLN.

While I'm coming back from my knee surgery, my coach has forbidden me to go beyond the second chain ring. Instead, keep pressure off of the knees by keeping the rpms up. It's worked for me -- I'm increasing my mileage, getting faster, and still feeling pretty fresh when I get off of the bike. And I'm getting even better with that granny gear all of the time.


Make sure I'm staying busy -- check out my training log.

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