Saturday, 10 April 2010

Spuds U like.

At the beginning of the month I finally plunged myself into the world of clipless pedals. I just couldn’t stand any more frustrating rides with my feet constantly sliding into inefficient positions or any more painful moments when my feet slipped off the pedals completely. Unable to find any decent flats, I decided it was time to bite the bullet!

With some pedals fitted (borrowed from Mikey), Ted was put on the trainer so that I could practice clipping and unclipping. The clip tension was as low as possible and because the pedals themselves had been used previously and slightly worn in – it made things even simpler to unclip, particularly on the left side. Which coincidentaly, is the foot I always put down first.

After the practice on the trainer, it was a fair few days before I could try them properly as Mikey had a wedding to attend and there was absolutely no way that I was doing it alone. So I waited, impatiently.

Finally the day of reckoning arrived and despite my nerves before leaving the house, it was amazingly a painless exercise (Probably as I had an "expert" by my side.) I was convinced I was going to fall, but I found the unclipping motion quite natural (which was quite surprising as I have very inflexible ankles). Within minutes I was feeling comfortable and relaxed and to Mikey’s surprise I was even unclipping just before I reached junctions - he said that unclipping too late at junctions is one of the most common mistakes of "SPD newbies".

I was really chuffed with my progress but because the next ride was without Mikey, I “bottled it” and swapped back to the cheap and nasty flats. It was a nice ride, but it felt wrong! I was kicking myself for not having the confidence. On my return home I changed them straight back and eagerly awaited my next Spud adventure.

Little did I know what lay in wait? The 1st ride had been a short 6mile road ride and I’d thought that the 2nd ride would be an easy (but longer) road ride. Ted and Mikey had different ideas though and after a few road miles we found ourselves on rough singletrack. Weeeeeee! This was fun! Ooooh... and here was some lovely deep mud and puddles to ride through.

Ouch! I’d forgotten I wasn’t on my MTB. I started to wobble as I remembered I wasn’t on big knobbly tires. Argh! I then suddenly realised I was actually connected to my bike. Dammit! I wobbled some more. My nerves had kicked in. Thankfully they went as quickly as they arrived and I started to have fun again. I got home in high spirits, with a big grin on my face. Who’da funked that my 2nd clipless ride would have been so successful? Prior to setting off I wasn’t even at the stage that I would consider off-roading with Spuds, never mind doing it! 

Since then there’s been a few more (off and on road) rides, all just as successful and just as fun. My confidence on SPDs is growing and just yesterday I set off on my ride and it hadn’t even crossed my mind about the pedal situation. I love 'em!

Luckily, I haven't taken a tumble yet *touch wood* but I had a few close calls when merrily riding down the coast bridle path to Penzance to meet Mikey at work. (I use the term "merrily" quite loosely as most of the ride was quite unpleasant as there were swarms of ignorant tourist shaped obstacles.)

The scariest incident involved a pack of at least 6 dogs (all running free), 2 adults, 2 teens and at least one small child.  When I reached them there was no way past and they had their backs to me. I called out. No response! ... I called a little louder. Still nothing! ... Again and even louder! Still nothing - they were completely oblivious and too busy chattering to each other. Thankfully, “Mum” finally noticed me, she apologised, stating she was slightly deaf (Fair enough love, but that doesn't really explain why the rest of your family ignored me!) They all stopped, gawped and left me very little room to pass through. Ah well, at least the dogs were well out of the way playing on the nearby rocks. Damn! Maybe not - no sooner as I started to weave through the humans, they started to call to the dogs, telling them to move out of my way. Obviously, the dogs just heard excitable orders from their owners, which resulted in them all running straight towards them AND me! Eek! This was it - I was going to fall! I was going too slow to get any momentum to swerve out of the way and as I was surrounded by bodies and now also small dogs I had nowhere to swerve to anyway. I started to wobble. Could I get my feet out quick enough? Phewph! I managed to unclip my left foot, regain my balance and avoid crushing any dogs in the process.

... Oh joy, tourist season has begun!!


Ginger said...

Erm, sounds difficult riding a horse.

KatieCake said...

Hehehe! I ride bikes not horses.

(I just like to look at the horses that I ride my bike past!)

Red Bike said...

I don't want to put you off because clipless pedals are definately worthwhile however you will probablly find your first fall isn't in the first few weeks when the pedals are new but when you've got used to them.

In time the pedals will become second nature, and you will have forgotton all about clipping in/out. You will pull up to a junction or have to stop suddenly somewhere. Out of habit you'll unclip one foot (your left) but on this occation you'll lean the bike over to the other side. Timber!

trio said...

Sounds like you are having lots of fun rides!