Thursday, March 11, 2010

Adventures in Clipless Pedals

So, as I stated in my previous blogs I got a new road bike and I was fortunate enough to get to ride it on Wednesday.

The weather here in central Illinois has been pretty horrendous this winter, but spring is starting to arrive and the temps have started to climb out of the cellar. Honestly I felt like that guy on the Kingsford ad,

On Wednesday, the temps got into the 60's, it was a bit windy, but I thought "why not?" I put on some of my new biking gear(bib shorts and jersey), got the bike prepped and ready, and I put on my new cycling shoes. Katie managed to snap a picture of me before I started

(Unfortunately ladies, that fat guy in the tight clothes and the pasty legs is spoken for; eat your hearts out.)

Now, I had stated in my previous post that my new bike has a few technological advances over my old bike, one of which is clipless pedals. I was a bit nervous about how I would do with this innovation. I had practiced a bit at the bike shop on the trainer, and felt relatively confident that I would eat it at some point. However, I successfully clipped in at the start of my ride and was off. I tested out a few more of the new functions on my bike, the computer, the integrated shift/brake levers, and I evaluated the weight to speed ratio of the aluminum frame. In my professional estimation, these accoutrement were far superior to their predicessors. Seriously, all of the bells and whistles are pretty cool and an aluminum frame is much faster than my old steel one. I quickly sped through town, past my adoring fans, and turned south on Airport Road (you heard me correctly; we have an airport) Earlier I stated that it was a bit windy. Turns out it was a bit windy in town, with gale force winds out in the country. I turned dead into the wind at Airport Road and thought, "@#%*, it is windy!" I knew I would be turning east in a quarter of a mile and figured, the wind wouldn't be much of a problem. For the next 9 miles I fought to keep a straight line as the wind pushed me off the road. Funny thing about being a fat guy, you present a very broad surface for the wind to beat against. I imagine it being very similar to driving a semi trailer in a crosswind on the interstate. Next came the gravy, I turned north for a 3 mile stretch and had the wind at my back. It was awesome. With out even trying I was going 24 mph, so I decided to really push it to see how fast I could go. The computer had my top speed at 31 mph; I felt like I was flying. It was by far the fastest I had ever gone on a bicycle. But the fun ended all too quickly and as I turned back towards home the wind felt like it would just throw me around like a rag doll. Now I had chosen to go for a 20 mile ride thinking that it would not be a problem (I was doing 35 miles last fall with little concern). Turned out it was starting to be a problem. I had quite a few stretches where I was going against the wind and uphill. My speeds were dropping down to 8 mph and I was getting gassed. I finally hit the home stretch, turned the corner on my street, and realized , "Hell, I still have these darn shoes on."

Now throughout the ride I had practiced with the shoes, using them on the upstroke, etc., and I certainly noticed a difference in speed and ability, but now I had to get out of these clips. I had the plan formulated in my brain: unclip the right shoe, slowly come to a stop, put my right foot down and unclip my left foot. Sounded easy enough and at the beginning off my ride I was sure I could do it. So I was slowing down as I approached my driveway, eased my right foot out of the clip, and immediately fell over on my left side. In a situation like this a few things run through your mind:
1. Did anybody see me? No, we are good/Yes, avoid eye contact
2. Am I hurt? No, good/Yes (and nobody saw you), start crying/ Yes (and somebody saw you), get up and act like you are fine, ignore any blood (It's just a scratch!) and cry when you get indoors
3. Is my bike hurt? No, great!/Yes, start crying whether anybody has seen you or not

Fortunately, no one saw me fall, I was not hurt except for some minor scrapes and a severely bruised ego, and best of all the bike is still in mint condition. I have a couple of days off and I hope to get out for another ride soon, but I will obviously need some more work on the dismount.


  1. ah - the worst time for clipless pedals is after you start getting used to them (a few rides from now) - and you see some friends ahead and decide to stop to talk with them. You glide up, not thinking about the pedals because you're used to them, hit the brake and slowly topple over right in front of the group. sigh. we've all been there...

  2. That is hilarious! I cannot wait for that to happen. I am glad to know it has happened to others, though.

  3. I have some awesome road rash from being a little too cocky in my clip ins. I wanted to be that cool girl at the stop sign that was just paused in space until the light turned green. Not so much. Tried to jump a curb once too in them. Wouldn't recommend it. You'll master them in no time!