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Mission Left: Jessy’s Ratio Custom Ridley X-Fire

Jessy first got in touch with us in July of last year, so this one’s been a fairly slow burn – but we’re no less proud of the end result! Checking the morning emails, we received a message that read:

“I’ve been trying to find a workaround to shift the rear mech derailleur with a left-handed shifter on a standard road setup. I only have a left hand and it’s becoming more annoying to shift gears. You guys are the closest I’ve seen to making different components.

Is it possible to create a piece that would convert the LH shifter front mech to a RH shifter rear mech?”

Well, we couldn’t really refuse. As with any engineering project, Mission Left had its twists and turns (we certainly can’t claim to have got everything right first time). However, the end result is everything we’d hoped for and we’re glad Jessy is enjoying riding the kit as much as we did designing it. Over to Jessy:

“I grew up in country Queensland, about three hours west of its capital Brisbane, in a town called Millmerran. I was born missing my right forearm. It’s incredible experiencing first hand at just how adaptable or brains are – I never knew differently so I just got on doing what I had to do – and still do. Growing up, into my teens and mid-twenties I was never much into fitness. A turning point came when after a breakup, I decided to join a local parkrun – a 5km, free, anybody is welcome course run every Saturday at 7am. My local is Southbank in Brisbane, Queensland. There I was graced upon a wonderfully supportive, casual running group, many of whom have become mentors as time goes by – unbeknownst to them. One run a week turned into two, three, intervals. My 5k times were dropping and I was in love. I let them know as often as possible how much influence they’ve had on my trajectory.

Jessy’s Ridley in its pre-Ratio’d phase

Then I got a bike, commuting turned into ‘how quick can I get to work?’, casual weekend rides, road bike, and eventually the bike that I’m riding today. What is now a custom Ridley X-Fire – a jack of all trades bike.  Another turning point was a conversation with a friend at work and he mentioned this word ‘bikepacking’. Well that certainly opened a can of worms. Very quickly I had a goal: Brisbane to Rainbow Beach Easter of 2020. I had a friend join and we had a great time riding the 400-odd kms north from Brisbane, through the hinterland of the Sunshine Coast, and eventually riding into Rainbow Beach. This trip had it all: small town bakeries; trucks tormenting us along highway shoulders; mechanicals that nearly had us finish up short. We finished nonetheless literally rolling into town on a flat tire because we were all out of patches. It was a bloody glass on the side of the road I tell you!

Less than 12 months later I nervously decided to do the Tasmanian Trail, South to North, in a bid to learn about myself when thrown into challenging, lonely situations. The 6th day of 2021 – the first day of the trip – 120kms down, laying in my tent with an overwhelming feeling of desolation, nothing but myself to thank for this stupid idea of crossing Tasmania alone. That feeling stuck around for a few days – if I’m honest – most of the weeklong trip. It wasn’t until Day 6 that I felt comfortable in my own; that my thoughts weren’t completely self-deprecating. The end came swiftly as most do when you’ve finally hit your stride. Before I knew it I was on the plane from Launceston back to Brisbane and it was with a satisfying smile I waved down my good friend picking me and my bike up from the ‘Passenger Pickup/Drop-off Zone’. Pleased with myself that I’d gone such a challenging way learning more about myself.

Mole Creek, Northern Tasmania
Jessy, racing in 2020

In between trips, somewhere towards the end of 2020, two things happened in quick succession. The first being that I spontaneously signed up for a local duathlon. My thoughts being, I can run and I can ride so why not both? Needless to say I had a painful time throughout that race. With little to no training it was a long 2 hours. Not even a week later – and this is the second event – I friend had posted online that they were in need of a guinea pig to work on their triathlon coaching. Hindsight now shows this as being a very pivotal moment, but at the time my thinking was, “well that duathlon sucked and this could be a way to improve”. I put my hand up and six months later I’m finishing the Byron Bay Triathlon 41st overall and 8th in my age category. Now you see – seeing myself as someone who is very average this was probably the first time in my life I can recall feeling being good at something and it was a huge moment. One that I’m very proud of.

I don’t know why, but I decided I’d had enough of leaning down to knock on the right shifter with my stump of a hand to shift up and down gears. I got recommended Ratio by a friend when I explained my woes. An email was sent off explaining my situation and if it would be a possibility to have a left-hand shifter shift gears on the rear derailleur? What ensued was a thread some 80+ emails long with questions, videos, images, progress pictures, updates, more clarifying questions, roadblocks, issues, solutions. The outcome? The elegant re-design of the internals of a traditional left-hand SRAM shifter to shift the gears on the rear derailleur. I couldn’t be more impressed with the team. There were obstacles to overcome of course – we were in completely unknown territory, trailblazing new paths. Ratio went above and beyond on troubleshooting the issues with perfection. Patience was a much-needed quality throughout this project, and it paid off. Flawless shifting and I no longer need to lean down uncomfortably to change gears.

“L”! Jessy’s new shifter, ready to be packed off to Australia…

With this new build, I recently just completed my first half ironman. An event that goes by the name ‘Hell of the West’ consists of a 2km swim, 80km bike, and 20km run. It’s also a stone’s throw from where I grew up in the country so this race holds a special place in my heart. The race came with its own challenges, what came after was that immense feeling of satisfaction – once again. Only this time it was a more powerful experience. A few hours after the race, reflecting on the drive home, I was overwhelmed with emotion, about how proud of myself I am. The race being the culmination of months of training, getting myself up and out of bed before the sun, skipping on the morning with my partner because, “sorry, babe I’m training tomorrow and won’t have time for a coffee before work.” Months of little moments of sacrifice leave you wondering if it’s worth it? The answer will be different for everyone.

Bikepacking, cycling, running, triathlon; it doesn’t matter what form of fitness it is. I’ve realised this is a journey I want to be on forever. It brings me stillness, confidence, health and happiness. What more could I want?”

We couldn’t thank Jessy more for his enthusiasm during this project and for sharing his experience with us. Needless to say, if you could benefit from a Ratio shifter modification like Jessy’s just head to the contact page and let us know.