Friday 4 March 2022

Getting Acquainted

I blogged recently about the sad demise of my old bike, which I facetiously dubbed Scott's Learning Cycle. This week, after a little delay, I finally got the new one, and am gradually getting to know her. At first I wondered if she was heavier, or less highly geared than my old machine, as it seemed harder work to get up the hills, and my normal morning cycle took longer than it used to.  But I fear that is more me than the bike: a few weeks off cycling... 

However, we are gradually building our relationship. I took her up to a favourite view point and she was suitably appreciative, even on a cloudy morning. And, I am glad to say, she continues in her venerable predecessor's role of teaching me stuff.  This morning was about gears.

Given the profile of my morning cycle ride, gears are important. And that is obvious. But there are a few things I was reflecting on, as the larks sang at me, that seemed to have a wider application. One was the need to choose the appropriate gear for the situation. This, of course, is why Agile people are so keen on their sprints and so on. When do we need to move at pace, and when do we recognise that the context requires a long, slow pull? 

But interestingly, the correct way to use gears (as I understand it - I am, I should add, a very casual cyclist) is to keep your legs moving at about the same speed.  Some people, of course, use music to assist with this, but that is anathema to me: why should I listen to The Byrds when I could be listening to the birds, or attend to The Beatles when I could be noticing the beetles?...  But I digress. 

The concept of the gears allowing optimum and consistent application of effort, whilst adjusting for variations in the work to be done or the context of that work, strikes me as a rich analogy. I am not quite sure for what, so you will have to do the work on that one. 

But a part of it is about looking ahead, and choosing the gear that you are about to need before you need it. If you wait till you are struggling to change down, you will lose momentum, and may suffer the indignity of putting your foot on the ground. And in my case, there is a particular trap: living as I do on the side of a fell, I return home in top gear.  But if I fail to shift down before stopping, the next morning it is impossible to get started up the muddy back lane.

So plenty of learning, applicable to all sorts of situations, though I am not quite sure which.  Maybe I'll have that insight next time I'm cycling up the fell.

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