My wife is a cycling newbie. It is fun to watch her improve as we ride. She is riding faster and farther nearly every time we go out. Today was no exception. We rode just about 10 miles and while she felt she could have ridden more we decided to call it a day.
On our last ride, she got on her bike after our daughter had ridden it. Our daughter had left the bike in its highest gear (52×13) and when my wife started out, she almost fell off! Today I decided I would try and help her shift the front derailleur. This was easier said than done since her bike is nearly new and has brifters (shifter combined with the brake levers). When I re-built my bike I stayed with downtube shifters and since I have never ridden hers I could not remember which way to shift up or down.
Up until today, my wife has ridden exclusively on the middle chainring. Her bike has a wide range rear cassette so she rarely has need to shift off the middle ring. Today, however I saw her pushing pretty hard up a hill into the wind, so I talked her into dropping to the small ring up front. She found a gear that she liked and rolled smoothly up the hill. On the way back, downhill with a tailwind, I coaxed her onto the BIG ring. It was her first time but she really got going, we rode quite a ways spinning in in high gear. She had a blast but was afraid to go any faster.
I am sure this won’t be the last time she is out there rockin’ the BIG ring. Next I need to teach her how to ride one handed and drink from her waterbottle.