The Hail Mary Shift
The grade is long and I am climbing away. I’m not going to Pantani this: I am not out of the saddle, not in the drops and not leaving everyone in my wake. The climbing gear was engaged a long time ago. There is progress, but I am not dancing up this climb. A little more cadence would really help here. If I could just get this mother-lover spinning just a bit, I could get somewhere. Maybe I’m not in the granny gear, yeah, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I do have one more gear, the gear that will solve this whole thing.
The right middle finger drops to the shifter and pushes. No. Nothing, just the feel of the derailleur hitting the limiter screw. Idiot. You knew you didn’t have another gear didn’t you but you couldn’t resist, could you? Why do I even do it? I know the answer already but I still do it. Hope springs eternal when one is too big to climb. I did it with downtube shifters too; crank that shifter back hoping for a little more action.
I bet Gino did it when he only had three speeds and a hand lever running down the seat stay to manipulate. “Mamma Mia, sto fumando come moto di un Hippie. Ho solo bisogno di una marcia in piÃ¹.” *
The only time I look down and am surprised at what gear I’m in is the rare occasion when I am in my climbing gear and crossed on the “big” chainring. And that would be the only justification for wondering what the hell is going on “down there”.
My mountain bike actually has gear indicators, which are embarrassing. What are we, three year olds? On that bike I just keep pushing levers until I can’t, or I just fall over. Maybe, in a few years, when we are all forced into electronic shifting, a soothing voice will emanate from the lever. “Really? You want an even easier gear? You don’t have one so get your fat ass off the saddle, get in the drops before I auto-shift you into the big chainring and leave you there. And you call yourself a Cyclist.” The possibilities are endless.
* Loosely translated- “FFS, I am smoking like a Hippie’s motorbike. I just need one more gear.”