I had to take the car in to the shop today. Rather than forcing my daughter to leave the house -- she was intent on spending the whole day at home -- I decided to bring my bike and ride back. I know that some of you are the sort of riders who are used to pedaling long distances over hill and dale. For me, though, the fact that I was able to make it all the way from First and River to my house without once having to put my foot down -- I made all the lights and fudged the two stop signs -- feels like a major accomplishment. What I'm proudest of, interestingly, is not that I had the strength and respiratory capacity to climb five hundred feet and do so quickly enough that I made the whole eight-mile trip in under forty minutes, but that I managed to shift the bike properly for once. When I ride in my neighborhood, I typically spend most of my time in the highest gear. It may constitute "weightlifting" instead of bicycling, as my velo-mad friend Eric once asserted, but it gets me the workout I want as fast as possible. Needless to say, though, the hills I climbed today are not the sort that can be taken in that gear. Plus, the portion above Ina -- I took Christie to Magee instead of turning left and heading down to Oracle -- consists of a couple short, steep ascents and descents in succession. I had to shift a lot, yet managed to do it without messing up. I hope you will pardon me, then, for patting myself on the back.