Gear-Inches revisited

Gear-Inches.  Remember them?  I was calculating them for my new ADV 3.1 bike as a therapy homework project from my doctor.  It required counting a lot of gear teeth and calculating the final number of gear-inches using a formula so that I could see how my new bike was geared.  I laid on the floor of the garage, counted many, many gear teeth multiple times, plugged the numbers and the formula into a computer spreadsheet, and made a graph.  When I showed the graph to my doctor, he said, “Well, that’s a different way of looking at it.”  He seemed troubled a bit and said, “You know, sometimes it’s better to do these things analog style – you know, on paper with a pen.  It’s easier to see and much more fulfilling that way.  You know what I mean.  Do the numbers and graph it out yourself?”  I love doing things analog-style and so does he.  He had wanted me to do it with pen and paper to begin with.  Maybe it was the med changes, but I didn’t see what my doctor was getting at with the gear-inches until I did it analog-style, like he wanted me to in the first place.  When I sat down last night and wrote it all out on paper with my pen after trying a few more graphing attempts on the computer, it was very clear what gear-inches had to do with knowing my ADV 3.1!!!  It was a spectacular revelation!  Low, middle, and high gear clusters popped out at me immediately as I did the numbers and put them into this format, and then, using a red pen, I drew in the comparisons of closely-related gear-inch measurements between gear combinations and could see that there were alternative and somewhat redundant combinations that I could use to spare the gears (and wear on the gear teeth) on certain cogs in the middle gear-inch range, along with there being gear-inch ranges that were unique to each crank gear on the high and low ends of the spectrum.  Then there are some that are completely stand-alone gear combinations in themselves that are useful for filling in the gaps that the alternative-use, redundant combinations skip entirely!

The most useful thing about this chart is that, even without graphing the numbers, I can now see the relationships between the gear-inches and the gear combinations and could, essentially spare some gears by using others and save those gears for just the high gears or just the low gears!  It’s a map to minimizing wear on certain gears and making sure that the gears wear evenly, as well as knowing what gear combinations to shift to when you need low, middle, and high gear-inch ratios to be in play, such as for steep hills (low gears) or a good middle-of-the-road riding speed (middle and alternative/redundant gears).  It’s about knowing what you’re riding and what it can do!!!  Like getting to know the limits and capabilities of a new motor vehicle, whether it’s a low-geared, off-road wonder, or a high-geared racing machine, this gear-inches relationship chart gives me a spectacular view of what I’m riding!  I’m going to show this to my doctor today and I’m sure he’ll be much more pleased with the fact that I now see the relationships and understand the reasoning behind the exercise, as well as having an analog chart to look at and say, “Hey, I did that!” when I’m feeling down.  I’m proud of my chart, whether anyone else will be or not, because I learned something valuable that will make riding my new ADV 3.1 that much more of an adventure without being frightening or scary!  Knowing this seems like it would be an intuitive thing to want to figure out right away.  I just never thought of it, and certainly didn’t know that there was a way to do it!  This is so cool!!!  I have the best doctor in the world!!!  What a brilliant idea to have me do this!!!  I’m so stoked about riding my bike and seeing how this works out!!!

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