Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Pedal me this

Disclaimer: mom, dad, you probably shouldn't read this one....

Do you know what keeps me up at night lately? Clipless pedals. Those suckers scare the bejesus out of me. Tori, you know what I'm talking about. Every single cyclist I have asked recommends them and then follows up with a knowing nod and a tale of their own experience crashing in them. (Is this supposed to comfort me, people??) Now, the benefits of using these pedals in theory should outweigh the potential disaster of me careening under a bus while desperately trying to unclip myself... right?

So once I get past the "why the heck would anyone put on those death traps" part of the conversation, there is the question of what kind of clips to use: traditional, eggbeater, with or without platforms. And then there are different kinds of cleats to clip in with. And I've gotten all kinds of advice on how to try them out, from clipping in and out 20 times while on one of those stationary bike things to standing in a doorway to balance as I practice clipping in and out. For my part, I am prepared to break out the rollerblading knee pads (which, curiously, turned up in my closet a few weeks ago, in spite of some vague memory of leaving them at one of the Halloween parties I had gone to in my roller derby girl costume... must be the elves, again). Sure, I might look like a dork, but, well, I kind of already do. At least I won't crack my kneecap while I'm learning.

And then there is the question of shoes. Up until about two weeks ago, back when I was blissfully ignorant (instead of semi-informedly anxious), I had no idea how many styles there are out there. And I, lifelong loather of shoe shopping, am overwhelmed. Somebody just tell me what to get. (Not you, Chris: the cute $300 pair is out. OMG, did I just say they were cute? Maybe they won't revoke my girl card after all.)

Anyway, in case there are folks out there with tips on choosing shoes and/or clips, don't hesitate to write in. Or call. Any time. I suspect there are going to be a few more sleepless nights between now and when the next shipment of clipless pedals come into the shop, when I must finally face the pedal monster.


  1. They're not too bad once you get the hang of it! I've only gone down twice with them on. Once while waiting in the center of a lane with a row of cars behind me waiting for the light to change. Light turned green, I had just .about. .locked. .my. .foot. .in. there; and then I lost my balance and just fell on my side. Disappeared from the window of the car behind me. Much more embarrassing than anything else.

    Also, I'm sure you've been told but, wear gloves. The main benefit is protecting your hands when you go down. I remember my last crash without gloves... that's what made me get gloves. That crash would have ended a tour or at least delayed it by a couple weeks. My next big crash wearing the gloves I just skidded along on my palm, my thumb and pinky got a little beat up, but I could get up and ride. That was also the second time I went down with the clips. I actually opted not to get out of them. Was going straight downhill around 30mph or so when I got my front wheel in a groove on the road. Told myself not to panic that I could get it out; well, I didn't panic all the way to the ground. :^) Wasn't really a bad crash as I didn't go flopping all around, just skidded along with the bike. My hip and knee took the most damage, but like I said, I could get up and ride.

    Anywho, since you're touring, get a pair you can walk in. I wear mountain bike shoes. The cleats are recessed, so you don't wear out the cleat and don't scratch floors, etc. You might even be able to get away with just those as shoes.

    On the cleat/pedal side I'd go with SPD. Just about everyone carries them and knows what they're dealing with if confronted with them. I've never had a catastrophic issue where my pedals needed replacing, but just in case...


  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. You're right. I do know what you're talking about. Those clipless pedals are frakking scary!

    The pedals I have yet to put on my bike are SPD. I've heard only good things. (Followed, of course, by a story about falling over/crashing because of them.)

    I'm going to pull out the trainer and start practicing. I have to learn at some point... Maybe we can take our first clipless ride together. Then at least we won't have to be embarrassed alone!


    (Sorry about the deletion. I didn't know what name was associated with my account.)

  4. I'm going to register my vote with eggbeaters (this ride is about cooking, right?!)
    I never tried SPDs, but I went straight to eggbeaters, since I were told they were easier.
    Also some advice:
    1) Have the shop install them (my self-installation failed to adjust them correctly, and they were upside down--oops.)
    2) I agree that mountain shoes are easier to walk in--don't skimp on a good shoe--My big toe has been numb for 6 months-and I think my shoe is to blame).
    3) Don't try to clip in at a traffic light--pedal unclipped until you are free of traffic, then clip in...
    T minus 2 weeks!


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