I don't do a lot of maintenance on my bike. When I get home I pretty much drag it up on the porch and forget about it until I need it the next time. Since I got a new tire in the spring I don't think I've done anything more than grease the chain as needed and put new screws into my left pedal in a desperate attempt to hold it and my toe-clip together. Lately, though, it's been harder and harder to shift up from the middle to the biggest chainring (the little one has long been unreachable—no loss when I'm not riding off-road), and yesterday on the ride home it became impossible. Something needed to be done.
Sure, I could manually yank the chain where I want it to be, and I did just that yesterday at the top of the long descent towards home. But that's hardly practical: doing it while the bike is moving would require contortions of which I don't feel that I'm capable, not to mention the risk of pinched fingers (and unsightly grease-stains). Never say I'm not inventive, however! This morning I stopped to pick up a nice, straight stick, about a quarter-inch wide and two feet long, that was just the thing to apply pressure to the inside of the chain as I pedaled and bump it up onto the bigger ring. Worked like a charm! Not, of course, that I would try anything like that in traffic or whatnot—if nothing else, it would be cumbersome to keep taking the stick in and out of the (conveniently-located) stick-holding pocket of my backpack. But since I don't shift gears that often, it was perfectly adequate for the purpose. And I felt so clever!
I'll see if I can fix the derailleur this weekend.