Clipless Pedals

Clipless pedals.

The name itself is totally misleading. Clipless pedals are the kinds of pedals you clip your bike shoes into so you are in essence attached to your bike. This can be a really good thing when you’re pulling up a hill and want a little extra power. It can also be a really bad thing if you come to a stop and forget to clip out. I’ve spent some time making asphalt angels after realizing I stopped and didn’t disengage. As if it weren’t bad enough, I’d look over and see the driver of the car next to me cackling.

It turns out bruises, scrapes and humiliation are pretty efficient teachers in my cycling life. After a couple of falls, I was vigilant about unclipping my right leg so I could come to a stop and stay upright.

This left me with one more pedal issue to resolve. After clipping out to stop, I needed to learn how to clip back in without swerving all over the intersection while the light changed from green to yellow to red with me still stranded in the middle. I called on the expertise of a far more experienced cyclist. He told me not to worry about trying to clip my foot in right away. One foot was still clipped in and I could use that leg to pedal across the intersection. Once in a less trafficked area, I could look down and clip my other foot in. It was definitely one of those “Why didn’t that occur to me moments?” From that day forward, I’d stop confidently and start up again with my one legged pedaling.

A year later, I was leading some new cyclists on a ride and we came to a stop. One newbie tottered back and forth, clipping out just in time. When it was time to start up, she tried without success to clip in her dangling foot. She made her inaugural asphalt angel and from the ground asked, “Can you help me figure my pedals out?” I helped her up and smiled because I’d been there. I’d so been there. We spent the next few miles stopping, unclipping, lopside pedaling, and clipping in. Over and over again until she got the hang of it.

I won’t say that I’m an expert or even that I possess any expertise because I’ve spent way too much time on the ground for that. I will say this, it takes humility to ask for help. And when asked, I’m always willing to share my experience.

Now if someone will just explain to me how I can avoid crashing that would be great.

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