Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Stuck in the Middle

Gerry Rafferty.
Probably more famous for this song:

I was on a plane going somewhere and through the ear tubes Baker Street kept playing on what seemed like an endless six hour loop.
Of course I had to get the album.
Gerry Rafferty though had another hit with a band called Stealers Wheel.
Another one of those songs that doesn't seem to go away:

In looking for these videos I was saddened to learn that Rafferty passed away earlier this year.
Though Gerry Rafferty gave us these two classic songs, that is not what this is all about.
So I've been riding around getting used to having only two rings up front.
My lack of climbing skills begged for a compact, but I'm finding that the 34 ring is beginning to feel a bit small.
On my old cranks with a 39 and 13-23 in back, I found myself more or less in the middle of cassette.
Now, with a 34 and a 12-25, I'm starting to creep towards the dreaded cross chain.
I've adjusted the front derailleur as best I can but there's no way for me to adjust out the rub when on the 34 and the small cog.
I think it may have something to do with chain stay length, maybe not.
In other words, the 12T gear is unusable when on the small ring up front.
Now to get the same gearing on the large ring, I have to get to the 17 or 19 gear in back, which is a pretty large jump from the the 15 or 14.
Not that I use those higher gears a lot, then again maybe I would if they were more accessible.
Now going back to regular chain rings causes the same jump, except that with a 39, I can pretty much use the whole cassette.
Okay, it's all pretty complicated but what it all comes down to is that I'm thinking of going back to regular chain rings, or if it's possible, putting a 36 on my compact.
Or going with an 11-23 or 11-25 cassette.
Okay, let me try again.
With a 34, I find myself working the lower part of cassette and with a 39 I work more in the middle.
Which is where I want to be.
In the middle of the cassette.
The sweet spot.
Make any sense?
Well on one hand I rarely use the big ring, I'm just not strong enough and I don't really have many downhills where I can crank up the speed.
So in that case I like the 50 and don't need a 53.
On the other hand, a 34 is beginning to feel too small, and jumping up to the big ring is sort of awkward for I rarely do it and the jump is sort of big.
On the third hand, I feel like I need the 34 for I really suck at climbing.
I'm running out of hands here but I think I could get away with a 39 if I stay with a 12-25 for it would be about the same as a 34 with a 11-23.
Boy if I knew road bikes would involve a lot of math I might have just gotten a triple.
I mean all this just because I got this thing about symmetry and I keep looking down to see where the chain is on the cassette and it makes me uncomfortable when I think about cross chaining and boy the middle of the cassette just looks like it's the right place to be.
Five up, four down.
Difficult to be dead center on a ten speed.
I could have attained symmetrical zen had I gone 11 speed.
Five up, five down.
I never thought about that.
All those numbers!
All those ratios!
All them gear inches!
I swear I'm having trouble getting to sleep at night!
Tossing and turning, fretting over possible gear combinations is pushing me towards getting a 36T!
I'm not sure if it will fit on a Centaur crank though so I might have to go Chorus.
That's for another story.
I'm guessing I should think less and ride more.
What do you think?


Trevor Woodford said...

I don't know what I brain has gone all sort of numb since reading all that..!!


John Romeo Alpha said...

I've read in a few bicycle books various ideas about the ideal combination including Sheldon Brown's ideas but the most thorough is probably the half-step system in Effective Cycling, Chapter 5. When I'm losing sleep over something like this, I let the experts do the thinking for me, and sleep like a log.

limom said...

Trevor, mind numbingness is sort of my specialty.

JRA, I had that book on my Amazon wish list but took it off.
Maybe I need to put it back.