bike rider needs assistance

How do you stop your toes from going black (exageration0 and feeling like they are going to drop off?

The pain when they thaw out is sooooooooo horrid! And I only did 13 miles and had 2 pairs of socks on!

Also, I'm not getting on very well with my gears! Now you bike experts are going to ask me what sort I've got and to tell the truth I've not got a clue!

I'll describe what I know though and that is they are Shimano and they are on my brake system (if that makes sense?!)

Don't laugh, but I don't know what gear I'm in when and I don't know how to tell! HELP!!!!!

Obviously I can tell when it feels easy/hard to ride but I keep going into the wrong gear and oh it's a right pain.

Any help would be appreciated!


  • I'll pop back later, everyone is obviously still in bed or hungover post NY EVE!
  • good warm socks... maybe sealskinz
    if you're using clipless pedals then try some overshoes.

    you don't really need to know what gear you're in... just which shifter does what.. and which way to push them! you can get an idea where you are with a quick glance down.

    practice on a flat course (round the block) working across the sprockets (at the back) smallest to largest (getting easier) and then shifting the front to the small ring on the front (getting easier still)... often to avoid too big a change of ratio you'll have to shift the front one way then rear the other or vice versa.

    another good practice is to find a quiet gently undulating course and try to maintain a constant cadence (pedalling rate), keep it the same by shifting down (easier) on the way up and shifting up (harder) on downhills.

    practice makes perfect
  • Thanks ed m, I'll have to practice as you say. It's only about the 4th I've rode the bike so not used to it properly yet. I just got frustrated yesterday as the course I rode was very hilly and so I was having to shift up and down quite a lot, but kept going the wrong way and ended up with the gears either clanking spinning!

    I suppose my other bike made gear change easy for me as it had the numbers on the shifts so I knew which way to go!:o)

  • That should say clanking or spinning.
  • Hilly,
    Neoprene overshoes should keep the wind chill off your feet - not prefect tho' I still get numb toes sometimes.

    Good advice from Ed re: your gears.
    You could try putting the bike on a turbo trainer to get used to shifting gear etc.
    The secret is to not "cross chain" - extreme examples would be large chainring at the front and largest sprocket at the back or small chainring at the front and smallest sprocket at the back.
    Although your bike may have 18 gears, (9 at the back and 2 front chainrings)there are not 18 "usable" gears due to crazy chain angles etc. Hope this make sense.

    If you really want to know what gear you are in, Shimano make a "flightdeck" computer, which as well as showing speed and cadence, will show you what gear you are in.
    I use one on my race bike, and find it very useful.
    Only drawback is that they are not the cheapest, and a bit fiddly to fit.

    Have fun,

  • also try not to put too much force through the transmission when you're shifting (in a car you get the luxury of a clutch!)... you soon get used to easing off for half a revolution as you shift.
  • ooh hilly - good thread

    i've also got shimano gears and have exactly the same problem. i certainly didn't realise that i wasn't supposed to use all 18 gears (have only been using the small chainring but have been using all 9 sprockets at the back!) in fact i've got a bit nervous now about moving onto the larger chainring as i've never used it!

    i went out and did 17 miles on tuesday and had to get off at 13 and walk for a few hunderd yards to get the feeling back in my toes and you are right the thawing out process was extremely painful.

    i'll certainly try and get some sealskinz (any idea where from?) but a friend of mine said that overshoes weren't such a good idea as they sometimes get caught between your shoes and pedals and can lead to you falling off because you can't unclip? don't think he was talking about neoprene ones though?

    oh its all so complicated. i'm supposed to be doing my first duathlon on saturday and after tuesdays experience i'm feeling pretty down in the dumps about the whole thing :-(

  • ok - have found sealskinz and neoprene overshoes (difficult when you've only got little feet!!!)

    thank you paul and ed
  • I got mr fraggle some X-socks thermal mtb socks for crimbo, and he says it's the first time he's not got numb toes in ages.......just need to sort him out with some gloves now! are very good (and very fast service too)
  • wiggle was where i ordered them from!!!

    i also ordered gloves and overtrousers on monday evening and they arrived on wednesday morning. now thats what i call speedy!!
  • 2 pairs of socks, neoprene overshoes, a thick pair of socks with holes cut out for the cleats over the top of them. That should see you OK down to minus 1 or 2 degrees, much lower than that and the roads get dangerous anyway. You can get winter cycling shoes if you do a lot of riding in winter.

    Your legs tell you what gear you are in, if you are spinning too fast you change up, too slow you change down. It doesn't really matter if you know what sprocket you are on - but a quick glance should tell you - although with 9 and 10 speed more sprockets makes it harder to tell.

    You can use all your gears - it's just that you'll get some chain rub using extreme cross gears - it's more of a bad habit than anything else - you shouldn't do it habitually but sometimes it might be useful to avoid another shift.
  • I've only got 16 gears on my bike, but I know I wouldn't want or use more!

    I know that I do what CI calls 'cross chain' so will have to get out of that habit!

    Thanks for the link for gear, I'll have a look on there in a moment.

    Oh and the tip about socks with hole cut out for the cleats.
  • Good luck with your Duathlon M, just enjoy it and I'm sure things will go smoothly!

    I found in my one and only tri last year when things went wrong the more I got flustered the worse it was. As soon as I took the pressure off myself and thought just enjoy, then things went far better!
  • LizzyBLizzyB ✭✭✭
    Hilly - two pairs of socks can be BAD as if your shoes are on the 'snug' side, you could be cutting off the circulation in your feet. So they could be doing more harm than good.

    Neoprene overshoes are the answer, but even with those you can get cold feet! I put my kit on the radiator before I go out so that it's warm - this really doesn't help much, but at least you start your ride warm!
  • Seal Skinz socks are great for winter weather, pretty damn waterproof and the new merino wool lined ones are toasty.

    Re: gears avoid cross combinations, small sprocket at front to small at back, ditto big rings.
    Instead shift up at front for former to higher front gear, and down for latter to lower front gear.
    Effectively on a triple at least 5 or 6 combinations shouldn't be used.
  • With 8 gears you probably have Shimano Sora?? I've never ridden it but I know people that have that reckon shifting is not fantastic - although it gets good marks for value in reviews.

    It's very very easy to get disheartened by cycling - it isn't like running where you slip your shoes on and out - the amount of gear and hence the amount of aggro in cycling is much greater - and little problems with the bike can really put you off riding. Wait til Summer and it's totally different - suddenly you want to get out for 4 or 5 hours at a time, any miles you can put in at this time of year are a bonus really.
  • Gore-tex socks from army surplus shops and decent waterproof neoprene o/shoes. You can also use up old big socks by putting them over your shoes and making a hole 4 the plate. Only lasts a coupel of outings but what else do you need them for.
  • thanks hilly

    i did a couple of tri's last year and really enjoyed them but for some reason i'm much more nervous about this duathlon. i get the impression they may all be really serious! not that i'd really care that much normally but the cycling is on an 11 lap course and i'm a bit concerned about getting in someones way or accidentally doing some terrible thing that i'm not supposed to.

    anyway thats enough worrying for one day from me.
  • where the duathlon M. ?
  • Going into town today to see what I can get for my tootsies!

  • ed - its milton keynes duathlon
  • ah.. one of the evening mini-series?

    i did a few of them
  • its a mini series - but during the day on saturdays.

    one a month from now till march.

    just hoping its not too hilly (i'm not very good at hills - grannies out for a stroll tend to come past)
  • ah it was on a tuesday eveing when i think (maybe thursday).. at the mk bowl right?
    if so:
    nice and fast round the lake for the run, although the winding nature is a bit confusing.. the only hills to worry about are an underpass and a up to and over a footbridge, pretty insignificant really but they make themselves known.

    the bike is laps of the arena bit and quite fun with one uphill bit and a lovely whizzy return to the bottom, take care on the corners and of gettin lapped. They had lap counters, try to keep count too but i always lost count after about 3!

    all in all it wasa nice informal set of events.. in fact saturday is rather easier to make.. i might look it up now myself as it makes great bike-> run training
  • ed - race calendar is here

    don't mind hills on the running bit (slows the speedy types down) but i am a bit worried about the bike one.

    when you say take care when getting lapped - is there anything i'm supposed to do? do i have to move out to let people through? or do they just come past?
  • This looks very tempting indeed - are you allowed to draught do you know?

    M, If I were you I'd let the person overtaking move out to go past - glancing behind you on the bike all the time can be dangerous especially if you are in a bunch, touching someone with your front wheel is dangerous having someone touch your back wheel is less likely to have you off - so looking what is in front is the main thing.
  • don't know popsider - haven't received any info other than what is on the website

    thanks for the advice! i'm really hoping i wont end up in a bunch of people as i'm very inexperienced and have done almost all my cycling alone. but i guess if the lap is less than a mile long its probably going to be fairly busy!!!
  • If you do end up in a bunch then try and remain relaxed and stay off your brakes - if you have to brake just feather them. It's nerves that make riding in a bunch difficult - if you can remain relaxed and ride your normal line you'll be fine.
  • I wish there was something like that around here!
  • thanks popsider (eeek - its tomorrow)

    i really am feeling a lot less nervous after the advice and comments on here - so thanks everyone
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