Thursday, September 10, 2015

Ubering to Thick for Fizz and shifting lessons

It was a gorgeous evening and I'd received a call earlier in the day that Fizz was ready to pick up from her overhaul.
  • new brakepads
  • bottom bracket
  • cassette
  • chain

Considering the cost of some of these items and the time needed for a professional to install them, I vowed to shift more carefully. I spent the past few days learning to shift.... better.
When you're given a bike, you don't get a lesson in shifting.
Until you get a scolding from a more experienced cyclist/friend and 2 hefty "You chewed up your drivetrain!" bills you don't pay much attention to proper shifting.

Marko had sent me a rather helpful YouTube video about shifting on hills, something I'd be doing a great deal of these days having moved to the top of a considerable hill:

I watched the videos he'd sent me on hill-shifting and cross-chaining, but hadn't tried to apply any of the things I'd learned because he made a point of noting after our most recent ride up hills that I was still mashing the gears.
Huh. He can hear that? Crap.
OK, I don't want to be that cyclist who makes other cyclists cringe when they shift. I don't have the ear to hear cross-chaining, but I can feel what's going on with my chain when I shift to get up a hill. It's rather difficult to change a long-ingrained habit... I've been bad-shifting for well over 2 years.
Could I actually change my bad habits and learn to shift better if not properly?
I spent all of the past 3 days making an effort and drill a new habit into my cycling: release pressure on the pedals just before shifting and then re-apply pressure after shifting. I think I've got the hang of it.
I hope.

"For the love of Pete, stop abusing me, Colleen!"

Pittsburgh has some serious hills (the steepest hill in the World, actually), a Pittsburgh cyclist should know how to shift properly to get up hills without quickly destroying their gears.
I also wanted to learn to install this stuff myself once I'd worn them out. With resources like Free Ride and a friend who offers to show you how to do these things yourself, there are no excuses. I love fixing stuff on my bike.

OK, so I digress....I was picking up my bike, right?

Yaaa! My bike is ready! How do I get my bike back to my apartment? Do I drive over there, hook it to the back of my car and drive back? NO! This is the first cool evening in a long time! I want to ride my bike back! I decided to try UBER. Someone had left a pile of UBER promo-code cards in the lobby of my workplace. I could sign up for UBER, use it for FREE to get over to Thick and ride my bike back to the apartment!
UBER: easy, quick and just like a drug-dealer, you get the first one for free.
I've used taxis and I've used UBER. I love UBER. You download the app, sign up, link your PayPal account and then summon your UBER driver. My ride arrived in FOUR MINUTES. She was delightful, we chatted the whole time. I wasn't crazy that she was doing a great deal of looking at her phone for navigation assistance though.
Considering that taxis only show up 50% of the time and take forever to show up, UBER is 1000% better. I'm sold on UBER.

So, she deposited me at Thick and I reclaimed Fizz...

After mounting my main squeeze and departing Thick, I had to re-learn to shift using bar-end shifters! After a week and a half of riding MaMa who was equipped with brifters, I kept trying to push on the brakes to shift! I laughed each time I needed to shift.

I happend upon the Unicycles Class that Thick hosts on the South Side. Elizabeth and Chris greeted me heartily and we chatted for a bit while I watched the multitude of people learning to ride unicylces.
Unicycles: It's a thing.

A spectacular sunset greeted me as I rode over the Hot Metal Bridge.

Riding back through Oakland, I was made aware that the helmet mount for the camera makes it clear to drivers that I'm recording their actions.
This motorist pulled up next to me and had questions about the helmet cam! Wow. Perhaps the dorky look is worth it?

"Do you get good video from your camera?"



  1. So... is it a picture of a cassete Thick installed on your bike? This is top of the line Shimano XTR. :)

    1. Nope, I just picked the first image that pops up in a Google search. Do I even want to know what one of those costs?

  2. It depends. Last year model or even year before last year models while are not the "the best, fastest, lightest" (according to marketing) still a very good alternative. May be pricey but much cheaper than this year model. Just an example -- go to and move your mouse over MTB, You should see different group sets:
    XTR and XTR/Di2 -- top of the line where Di2 is designation for electronic shifter/derauleor combination
    and the rest of the group (Deore is an entry level for racers).
    Now, look at CRC: -- 10 speed SLX is $53.66(MSRP $94.98) -- 9 speed SLX is $29.99 (MSRP $59.99 - $66.49)
    I consider SLX very nice group set -- I am going to install it on my folding bike -- I need shifter (also 9 speed SLX), new chain and derauleor. I think total for me is going to be around $140 for a good racing group set plus Katrine work. :) Three-four year ago those part would cost me over $300.


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