real life cycling

Like a dog without teeth

campag cassette

“See what I did there,” he says, clicking down to another lower gear, “I’m really glad I’ve got thirty-two teeth on that big cog. Look at my legs now, just spinning away…”

“Piss off,” I reply,

“How many teeth have you got again..,” he continues, “twenty-seven?” I’m flicking at my gears, certain there must be another one around here somewhere.

But he’s right.

Twenty-seven it is.

In the north of England, where rides into Yorkshire and Cumbria are common, a great dinner-plate of a thirty-two teeth cog would be really useful. I know that, and he knows that, but I’ve set my stall out.

In a moment of early-ride complacency I belittled him for his granny gears.

“Well,” I sniggered, “if you can live with yerself, I s’pose.”

I was implying that he’s a bit of a softy and that his preferred gearing makes him a lesser person, and confirming that I really am a child sometimes.

Whenever I behave like this it rarely ends well – I regretted my words mid-snigger. And here I am, on a 22% gradient, bending my back and squeezing the last dregs of power through twenty-seven teeth of torque.

Pretending I’m happy about it.

Glad of the extra workout.

Suffering like a dog without teeth.

Slightly concerned about the seventy miles left to ride.

But I’m buggered if I’m getting a thirty-two because then he wins, and I’ve spoilt the aesthetics of the rear end of my bike. Not only am I an idiot, I’m a superficial idiot.

I suppose there’s always Plan B?

To cut this man – good friend and excellent riding partner that he is – out of my life forever. Releasing me from this face-saving verbal contract, free to fit a thirty-two and express enlightened and practical views on the subject wherever I go.

I could spin my way up climbs, enjoy my ride, and maintain the integrity of my hamstrings.

But could I also live with knowing a little bit inside of me has died?

Pass me that twenty-five.

(Image: via Glory Cycles Flickr CC)

4 comments on “Like a dog without teeth

  1. When I moved to Lancaster I had a 23 with a 39-53. I even rode Le Terrier with that ratio. What an idiot.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wot, only 32? I’ve cycled on a mountain bike 34 cog for a number of years now, but with an upgraded bike I dropped down to a 32. Didn’t notice much difference, but the bike’s 10 years younger. But – it is pleasant to be ambling enjoyably up steeper climbs so to hell with pride. Interesting that most of my cycling pals have migrated to bigger cogs, their only regret being not having done it earlier! And plenty of climbs round here are steep + age ain’t on my side.


  3. Recognise some of the stubbornness and idiocy here! Your other option is to buy a new bike and claim it was supplied with the dinner plate gears and you only bought it for the colour.


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