Trying to cycle up hills in the wrong gears is not only exceptionally hard, it could also result in the struggling cyclist suffering personal injuries.
Climbing up hills in high gears generally means churning away at pedals at crawling speed while expending lots of valuable energy. This energy expenditure will, particularly on long and steep hills, eventually result in the cyclist either having to get off the bike and walk, or getting so exhausted that riding in a steady line becomes impossible. Either way, the risks of doing this not only include possible muscle strains, but also injuries by falling off the bicycle or veering into vehicles trying to pass. Causing a road traffic accident in this manner not only poses a risk of accidental injury to the cyclist, but also to other road users.
Cyclists can prevent cycling injuries and traffic accidents by selecting low gears for hill climbing. It obviously helps to know which of your gear levers does what. On bikes with derailleur gears, the lever on the left provides large gear jumps by controlling the front derailleur and guiding your chain over the chain-rings close to your pedals. The lever on the right allows you to fine tune your gears by controlling the derailleur at the rear, which guides the chain over the cogs at the back. Choosing a low gear by combining the small chain-ring at the front with the largest sprockets at the back will enable you to climb steadily, safely and with less effort.
When approaching a hill, prepare to shift gears down at its base. Start by shifting to the easiest gear, then change up again if necessary, as this is easier than trying a higher gear first and then having to shift down on the hill. This may take a little practice, but considering the possible consequences if you cause a road accident because you are in the wrong gear, the time practising is time well spent.
Advice to motorists
When approaching a cyclist from behind, try to be patient and remember that this cyclist may be a beginner struggling to find the right gear. If, in spite of your caution, the cyclist causes a car accident and you suffer an injury as a result, you may be entitled to driver injury compensation. Discuss the circumstances of your accident with Accident Advice Helpline advisers to find out if and how to claim.
Date Published: September 30, 2014
Author: Accident Advice