Learning to Love my Big Ring

I knew it existed, I suppose. It was there when I cleaned the smaller one right next to it and it is attached to my pedal, more or less. But it was neglected and un-loved, there’s no question. That is, until now.

As part of my training for the Etape du Tour next July, I’ve decided to start with something simple – just go faster. Just simply make sure that every pedal stroke is doing something that makes me go forward. Sounds simple, but it hurts!

That’s when I discovered the ‘big ring’. I only ever used it on slight downhills or when the wind was at my back, content to cruise in the low-mid 20s in the small ring. No longer. On the last two short training rides I’ve tried to keep rolling in the big ring on the flats, a feat that is rewarding and painful at the same time. If you’ve got any power in your legs it is pretty gratifying to switch rings and really feel that you are propelling yourself down the road. In a smaller gear it is too easy to just roll without much effort (one of the beauties of the bicycle, I might add), but once you are in the big one you need to work at it. I don’t know why, but it’s true. And if you do the work there is a sensation that you and your legs are a real engine (much like the feeling on climbs).

Anyway, it’s a start. More on the training as I figure it out. Up next: the results of my knee x-ray…

3 thoughts on “Learning to Love my Big Ring

  1. Please, for the love of the English language: it’s pedal, from the Latin ped, meaning foot. Peddling is something else entirely, although doing it from modified bicycles is far from unknown.

  2. I’d been neglecting my big ring since forever, but while biking southern Burgundy, decided to use it. So, for the last 600 km. or so, I’ve used it for everything, except for big climbs — feels good. That said, because I’ve done 2500+ kilometres on my present chain, I’ve taken the bike for a winter tune-up and my LBS mechanic was horrified to see that I’m on the big ring — stretching the derailleur arm to the limit. He assured me that what I’m doing is a baaaaad idea and that I’m stretching the chain (in the long run) and shortening it’s life and the life of the derailleur. I guess I’ll go back to using the middle ring as my main gear and see how it feels.

    BTW, thanks for the blog. I’m finding it a strong draw to head down that way, perhaps in early spring.



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