Some of you will recognize the title of this short post from the best bit of fiction ever written on cycling – The Rider, by Tim Krabbe. It refers to ‘the rider’, climbing a real mountain in a fictional race, in which he refuses to use the last ring on his cassette (because shifting is a form of pain relief). This was in the 70s, so the actual quote was ‘my 20 was still as clean as a whistle’ (FORTY THREE / 20!).
I have at least one friend who will not go to his 32, no matter how steep the climb is. I have other friends who see a bump in the road and start shifting up the cassette. It’s a curious and stark difference in attitude, and probably one that translates into other aspects of these friends’ lives. But that’s way too philosophical for a hot Saturday afternoon.
Which rider are you, dear reader? I’m somewhere in the middle and it’s one big reason that I put off going to a bigger cassette every time they come out with more rings. My Bianchi has 34/27 and the Colnago has 34/29, which I can still manage, but I do have to admit that a 32 sounds good when the roads gets over 12% or so.