Maddie and I find ourselves riding up to Super 1 about every other Sunday for some reason or another. Now that she has a bike with a shifter (6 speed freewheel on a mid-90's girlie Giant 20"-wheeled "mountain" bike...whew!), she's slowly warming up to the idea of shifting.
It's really all I can do to shut the hell up. I want to tell her to shift all the time, but I don't. Well, hardly ever. I suggested a shift the other morning as she grinded up a small hill. I think she had forgotten that she had gears. She downshifted and took off.
When you approach Super 1 from the Pear Tree side, there's a steep little hill that runs about 40 yards or so. On Sunday mornings there is very little traffic, so a couple weeks ago, Maddie figured out that with a good run-up to the hill, she could get to the top without walking it. She hit it hard and then grinded out the last 10 yards or so. It was a big achievement. She was psyched.
This week, just as she finished the big run up -- right in front of the entrance of the Pear Tree, she downshifted. It was so smooth and so natural, I assumed that her bike ghost-shifted. But it didn't. She anticipated it, and shifted as smooth as any veteran rider: no clanking or overloaded stress, just a smooth downshift, whereupon she sailed up the hill as gracefully as can be.
When she told me that she did in fact shift, I was, and still am, amazed at the grace. Maybe it was all luck and it just as easily could've turned into a mis-shift and wreck (as she did a couple weeks ago on flat ground), but I'm going to believe, and I'm telling her, that it was a flawless shift made by a skilled rider.