Mountain bike question

As stated earlier this week, my birthday was yesterday and my children decided to get me a bike for my birthday, so I could ride with them on thiers, (they are 7 and 3, very cute kids). They, and my wife, got a basic schwin mountain bike, nothing fancy with 21 speeds. Tried riding some tonight and realized two things
1.)its been a long damn time since I rode a bike and
2.)that the two miles between our house and town consists of 80% downhill, one-way.

So my main question to any riders out there is how the hell do effectively use all the damn gears and how effective would the damn thing be a HITT cardio program?

I don’t see why recreational “on road” riders would need all the gears to be honest, it seems to be just a sales thing.

Mine is the same way, has 21 gears. I use maybe 3 of them, probably could get by just fine with only 2.

As for HIIT on a bike, well it’s a bit tough with kids. They don’t pace it that well, and they have minds of their own…lol
Now without the kids you can do it. Just do things like 1 minute sprints with it, with 1 minute coasting/light pedaling between each sprint. You will need a good long stretch of road since 1 minute sprinting will get you pretty far, and you dont want to keep going back and forth on the same spot due to boredom.

Using all the gears takes practice. It’s generally (I use that word because this is all up for debate) accepted than spinning at 90 RPM is the most effecient. That means that the further you get from 90 RPM the less effecient you are so by utilizing all those gears you should always find that you’re pedaling at 90 RPM ± 10 RPM.

Now if you’re Lance Armstrong you spin at closer to 130 RPM so there’s definetly some individual variation here.

When you’re just starting out use the middle ring in the front and just switch gears in the rear (right hand shifter). The rings at the front are for the large adjustments in gearing the gears at the back are for much finer adjustment.

Really, it just comes down to practice. I cycle a lot and I’ll run the gamut of gears while riding, I’m shifting all the time. But I’ve been doing this long enough that I don’t think about it any more, the fingers just take care of it on their own . . .


I have a road bike thats 27 gears and most of the time I stay in the 42 tooth ring (52 ring ocassionaly on flats/decents). However the 30-tooth does come in handy during long ascents ( > 10min) especially since I keep my candence well into 95-100rpm range.

(1) If you stick mainly on the road throw some slick tires on your bike because riding back up the hill is going to be a bitch with the knobbies.

(2) Get a heart moniter if you really want to do quality intervals otherwise you’re just working in the dark.

Currently I have the polar s720i along with the power output kit and that works exceptionally well. I attached an image of a ride I did last month. If you right-click on the image and save it to your hard drive it should be resized to its original.

oh yeah and one more thing…you should of got a road bike instead hah j/k.

There’s nothing saying you can’t modify the bike to be more “road” worthy. That cluster of gears in the back is EASILY interchangeable with some tighter gearing that will be more useful. But using a MTB on the road will probably keep you mostly in the middle 'ring (chainring, the ones by the pedals) and the upper (harder, smaller) gears in back. Also, you can swap out the tires for something slick and higher pressure. But then again, those squishy knobbies just add resistance, which can be a good thing.

But as Sturat said, the most “efficient” cadence is about 90 rpm. Going higher works the aerobic system more, going lower works the strength more. But individual styles vary greatly, especially uphill. Lance has worked teh high-cadence thing and has it perfected. That keeps him mostly aerobic. Myself, I always did better standing up a lot more (maybe my running background) than most, and can actually recover pushing a big gear at a low cadence while standing. Got a couple hillclimb TT titles to back it up.