Cyclopedia: Using your Gears on a Fitness Ride
Gears are designed to help you. Shifting your gears helps you adjust the pressure you feel at the pedals, the force you apply with your muscles, and the actual work that you are doing.
But that doesn’t mean that the gear you choose has to make your ride difficult. Riding one, two, or ten miles is the same distance whether you do it at a high or low gear. It’s okay to downshift to an easy gear that lets you pedal faster.
Pedaling faster makes the “work” of moving your bicycle easier, because it reduces the force per muscle movement. Basically, you are managing the work to be easier over time. (In weightlifting terms, think of it as doing higher repetitions at a lower weight.)
At a lower gear, your muscles have a greater chance at “enduring” the work – which is what an endurance sport like distance cycling is all about.
Don’t worry that by downshifting you’re making things too easy on yourself. The sensation of work will come in time, once you start to use up some fuel. And, of course “fuel” is a nice way of saying “fat.”
So, downshift to make it easier, enjoy the ride and let the fat burn away!