Getting In Touch

Like many in this country, we’ve been dealing with a vicious Arctic cold this past week. Sunday seems so far away – a “balmy” 30 degrees when I set out with my daughter in search of a parking lot we could ride around in while she gets comfortable with her bike. We bought it for her last year as a birthday gift, just a touch on the large side so she wouldn’t outgrow it too quickly. She’s now able to get the hand brakes easily and use her twist-shifters more effectively. I grabbed Lady Rainicorn and gave her a test spin, trying to figure out how to both turn and shift my downtube shifters and not fall over.

It’s not as easy when the only road bike you’ve ever had utilizes what is unimaginatively called “brifters” – brake shifters. My instinct is to just click the small levers with my middle finger. Downtube shifters are bringing me more in tune with my bike.


As I’m walking home from the train station tonight, it occurs to me that being a cyclist or pedestrian really puts you in tune with your world. You feel the subtle and not-so-subtle swells and depressions. Flats that are really slow and steady inclines or declines. You need to know the weather to prepare your attire accordingly. You can pause to truly enjoy a beautiful sunrise, sunset, or the way the light sparkles like glitter on the new-fallen snow.


snapshot from on my way to work
snapshot from on my way to work


You can always tell the folks who will hurry out of the train and into their parked car because they aren’t dressed to spend a length of time in the weather.


Back to the “new” bike. I’m realizing I need to be OK with a variety of things I haven’t had to worry about up til this point. Things like when to shift up or down, easing up on the pedals to get the front derailleur to guide the chain to the big ring … and back without dropping. Calculating when I need to shift on a hill or descent. Having HALF as many gears to work with in general.

The bikes are in the shop but once they are done, I’ll see you on the road!


Author: Laura

wife. mother. kick-ass girl. all mountain, all road adventurer by bike.

5 thoughts on “Getting In Touch”

    1. The good news is the gears are indexed and the shifters are in a good position. The bad news is the front shifter isn’t and I feel significantly less balanced with one hand off the bars. I suspect time and patience will be my friend.

      If all else fails, I will eventually convert to bar-end or integrated shifters (I hate the term brifters … so silly). 🙂

      1. I think “brifters” is funny… You will get used to the tube shifters but there’s no denying that they make shifting more troublesome and time consuming. They also make the cyclist think more, so I would guess, over time, that you’ll end up much more “in tune” witth riding – that’s how it worked for me. The balance with your weak hand on the bar will definitely come with time (my wife has had a tough time with that too).

  1. I enjoyed the essay. I agree that people who walk or bike are more in tune with the weather, the day, the season’s changing. We get to see the sunrise more often, notice how it advances or recedes as the seasons inch past.

    Good luck with the downtube shifters. Some of the tandems have them and it’s unnerving to say the least. 🙂

    1. Never are the seasons more pronounced than when we artificially shift the clocks forward and back. 🙂

      Getting used to the new bike on the commute will be interesting and fun this spring.

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