“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)