Learning how to clip in the hard way

One of the things I have wanted to do since I cycled the MS Pedal to the Point and the Hancock Horizontal Hundred last year is to switch out my caged pedals to clipless pedals. These pedals clip you to the pedal via a cleat recessed in special cycling shoes. They make you one with the bike and improve your pedaling efficiency. On the pedals we grew up with in our youth, we moved forward with every downward push. The clipless pedal moves you forward using the total circumference of your cycling motion.

I bought a nice pair of cycling shoes at the Century Cycles annual sale for a great price. I bought a dual pedal at Performance Bikes. One side is a standard pedal and the other side is a clipless pedal. I wanted the freedom to wear my sneakers for shorter rides. Brett and I mounted the pedals on Saturday. I gave the bike a few test spins to see if I could engage and disengage the clips. It seemed to go well.

I decided to make our Sunday Towpath ride to Peninsula the test to see how well they performed and how well I did with the pedals. My right pedal worked perfectly. It engaged and disengaged with ease. My left pedal seemed to not want to stay clipped in. I found myself unclipped quite often. I just opted to ignore it and deal with it when I got home.

At home, I examined both shoes and saw that the cleat was mounted incorrectly on the left shoe. I repositioned and reattached the cleat and was off to a test run. I had also adjusted the pedals to hold a little more securely. I was to soon realize that it was a bad choice.

I clipped in with ease and took a spin around the neighborhood. I was pretty happy with this setup. Reality was to strike. As I headed back down the drive towards the garage, I attempted to disengage the pedals. They would not disengage. The garage was getting closer and I was slowing down desperately trying to free myself from the pedals. Gravity took effect and I ended up with a thud on my drive. Oh well, the clips did release at this point.

I surveyed the neighborhood to see who might have witnessed this feat of physical prowess. No one seemed to be looking my way. That somehow made it better. I readjusted the clips and gave it another spin. This time I was smart enough to try disengaging as I rode. They worked like a charm. I was back in the drive with a graceful end to the ride in my saddle and not the concrete.

I am pretty certain my cycling will improve with the addition of these pedals. They actually make pedaling smoother and more consistent. I am sure that I have not seen the last of my ungraceful stops. It takes experience to get it right and stop gracefully in an upright position. It’s pretty easy to forget that you are attached to the bike.

Chuck bought his cycling shoes a few weeks back and the identical pedals. He seemed to do pretty well on the Towpath Sunday. An interesting thing about cycling that sets it apart from other sports is that you can better your performance with technology. This technology often comes with a price tag, but you can ride faster and better with an upgrade to your bike or accessories. Clipless pedals are a good example of that.

Tom

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