Some of your posts remind me of @whatever and some of your posts remind me of @Bamboo.
Maybe you're ESTP.
Hmm...how so, NG?
Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit
Since I moved up to the full ten mile route, I usually am in one of three gears, my fast gear for going downhill and on really smooth pavement, my medium just going along on the flat stuff (but my rpms are too high), and the climbing gear below that.
As I ride more, I'm using the fast gear more on the flat stuff, and using the medium gear to climb, and only using my climbing gear for the steep top of one tough hill at the end of the route.
I don't know much about bike gears, so this is the best explanation I could give.
Wait, are you only using the front gears, or am I misinterpreting?
Your bike has 3 gears in the front ("on the crank") and 8 gears in the back. Using the shifters you control the front and rear derailleurs, or as I say "mechs". Those are the things that move around when you shift. They move the chain laterally from cog to cog as you pedal. Always shift while pedaling.
Note: The rear mech is prone to damage, so you shouldn't lay the bike down on the crank side and be careful getting it into and out of you car, for instance, because if you tweak it it'll cause shifting problems aplenty.
Since your bike is new, the cables will probably stretch and cause shifting problems anyway, but you'll be able to just turn a knob to adjust the tension and be good, which is a lot easier than dealing with bends.
It's important to note your chainline. If you are in 1st (smallest, easiest, slowest, far left) in the front and 8th in back (smallest, hardest, fastest, far right), then the chain is crossing all the way over (the chain facing into the bike from the rear, instead of parallel). Ideally, when in 1st up front you should be in gears 1-3 or 4 in the back, 2: 3 -6, and 3rd 5 -8. This keeps a straight chainline, which prevents excess wear and minimizes shifting problems.
Think of the front gears as "coarse" adjustment and the rear as "fine". Let's say you're riding along flat at medium pace, in gear 2:4. You start to slope slightly uphill so you stay in 2 up front and shift up to 3 in the rear (2:3). But then the hill gets really steep, so shift both the front mech and dial it in with the rear to 1:2. It's best to shift one mech at a time. Then it flattens out. In practice you can ride around into something like 1:5 for a moment but if you're going to be one flat ground for a while shift back into 2:4ish.
You cruise down a hill in 3:7, speeding, and come to a flat intersection and stop. You forget to shift into an easier gear before you stop (pedal against the brakes, shifting as you stop) and find yourself struggling to get restarted. Good thing to note: the rear mech has smaller increments and reacts better to shifting under heavy load than the front. Try the front mech putting all your weight on the pedals and you'll hear all manner of crunching noises, and the chain might pop off the ring up front, sending your foot into freefall and making you look silly in traffic. Grab a couple gears in the rear (3:4), get moving, and then when the pressure is off shift into something reasonable like 2:5 and keep moving.
It's less complex than this wall of text may suggest. Basically, adjust it so it both "feels right" and you have a straight chainline, and you'll be good, and try to remember to keep the heavy load off the front mech changeovers.
Oh, and when it comes to brakes:
You got v-brakes. They are plenty strong. Don't be afraid of your front brake. Lots of people are overly worried about flipping the bike. Yes, you can flip this bike with those brakes if you lean forward and grab a handful in your left hand, but learn to control it. Basic physics: all you braking potential is in the front. (Depending on weight distribution, upwards of 90%). Learn to use it well, it might save your life (or just make things more fun). Especially if you never use the front and then in an emergency panic use it and don't know what to expect. The rear brake is helpful in the slick and for long scrubbing of speed in typical urban/suburban hill settings.
Learning to use the front brake will also encourage (aka force) you to learn to adjust your fore-aft position on the bike, which will let you turn, brake, and coast in greater comfort and control.
Basically: put your butt back and use the front brake because it's better.
If you want a workout just ride your bike in downtown traffic. Focus on sprints, not dying, situational awareness, equipment failures, and eye contact. It's like interval training, but not as boring.