Friday, April 10, 2009

One Small Clip for a Real Cyclist...

One GIANT Clip for a Non Cyclist.

The clipless adventure has begun, and I'm loving it. Who knew that nike shoes were so bad for cycling. I only rode 16 miles, but what a difference.

Todd got in touch with me early on Thursday and asked if I wanted to ride. My answer of course was yes as you know I needed to tack on some miles for the mileage challenge. I got home from work and got busy putting on the pedals (you got me, I didn't do it the other night after I put up that post that said I was going to do it then) and attaching the cleats to my shoes. It's amazing how much better my bike looks without those clunky pedals with toe clips strapped on. I put on the Look pedals as they did wind up winning the poll by one vote, and they look sharp. Nice and streamlined, but a little intimidating. They're so small, and I started thinking about how they will firmly hold me onto the bike, and how they might not want to let me go. Anyway, on to the cleats.

I screwed the cleats into the Shimano shoes and by this time Todd had showed up and we we pretty much ready to go. After signing up for a 100 mile bike race without owning a bike, riding in 28 degree weather with fingerless gloves on, and riding a 30 year old loaner to get acquainted with the sport, you no doubt have reservations about my level of common sense. I can't convince you otherwise, but I can tell you that I did at least practice getting in and out of these new pedals before we took off. I'm glad I did as they were set way too tight for me. A few turns of the allen wrench and they were less like bear traps and more like pedals so we got started.

I pull out of the driveway and right into near disaster. While I was looking down trying to get my other foot in my pedal, one of my neighbors had turned into the cul-de-sac. By the time I looked up, she was politely trying to navigate her minivan around the idiot in the street who apparently doesn't know how to ride a bike, even though he's wearing bike shorts and sporting biking gloves. I managed to wobble to the edge of the road, and she passed without me toppling over. I finally finagled my other foot in and we were off.

This is better.

From the first few pedal strokes, I could tell how much better this was going to be. The stiffness of the shoes, the connection to the bike, I could get used to this fast. We took off down my now somewhat routine 16 mile down and back route. The wind was so bad it was laughable. We were struggling just to stay in a strait line and make forward progress. The only silver lining was that this was a down and back route, so while this wind would kill us the whole first half of the ride, barring any major atmospheric anomaly, it should be pushing us with the same force the whole way home.

I'm happy to report that we timed most of the streetlights perfectly. We had to pause a few times, but never had to completely stop and unclip. I know, not a true test of the clipless pedals, but I was happy to get lucky the first time using them. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to topple over, unable to unclip, in the future. The second half was much more enjoyable with the wind at our backs. There is one hill on the route, that put us in our place, but other than that we made it back to my house in good order. I made sure to unclip before I even got in my driveway and did so uneventfully. So far I'm loving the Look pedals and will continue to use them. Not to disappoint all you SPD lovers out there, and don't hate me, but if things keep going well with the Look pedals, I'm not sure I'll even give the SPD's a chance. I know, heartless, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it right?

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