GentleSoul Arts

Living a Creative Life

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Clip Clip Clop

Another busy week, with lots of new adventures in cycling and a few adventures in art. 

After my group ride, I decided it’s time to go clipless and work on joining the faster group. I had taken the day off on Wednesday for another group ride (more on that in a bit) so I took my bike to my Local Bike Shop and I now have mountain bike (Crankbrothers Candy 1) pedals on my road bike & easy release cleats on new cycling shoes.  

I practiced a bit in the hallway, learning how it would feel to clip & unclip. I almost went sideways but luckily hallways are narrow enough I could put an arm out to catch myself.  I didn’t have much time because I had a beginner gravel ride to get to!

Gravel is SO MUCH FUN!  I took my geocaching ‘trail bike” (It’s really a fitness hybrid bike but it has big 700×42 tires so I call it my trail bike. It has flat bars so it’s not what people think of as a ‘gravel bike” but it worked well enough!).  Sand is challenging, trying to keep going when you’re being bogged down.  It’s really a metaphor for life.  Gravel & rocks were easier but you still have to let the bike tend to go where it wants and gently steer it back instead of forcing it.  It reminded me of driving on ice.   It was a short 10-mile route but a full-body workout.  Lying in bed, I noticed how sore my abs were.   I will definitely ride gravel whenever I have a chance. 

Thursday evening, stationary clipless practice.  I brought my road bike to the living room and practiced clipping out & in, one foot on the ground while watching TV.  I managed to fall twice, both to the left.   Replaying it in my mind, I had to have leaned left while clipped in.  Well, I think I know now what prompted it but I had my first fall out of the way.  Notice the word FIRST

Friday Evening – Sushi night!!  I planned on practicing on the grass at a nearby park for a bit, ordering sushi, and practicing more until it was time to pick up my order.  Clip-in, push off, fall over.  Okay.. get up and try again.  Clip-in, push off, fall over.  I sat for a while pondering if clipless really worth this effort, should I just have my LBS put my flats back on.  Could I even return the shoes & pedals?  Should I just keep them until later or sell them on a cycling Facebook group.  I reminded myself that I’m a perfectionist and that failing sucks but it’s part of the learning process. Giving in to that is the worst way to go.  Keep practicing.  If you stop to look try to clip in without pedaling, you’re going to fall due to a lack of momentum.  Basic physics. An object in motion tends to stay in motion, so even if you can’t clip in right away, keep pedaling.  

I managed to clip in and go a bit, but when I tried to clip out on my left foot, I fell over. My heart was racing at the fact I did ride clipped in for even a few yards.  I’ve noticed I push off with my right when I start so planned on stopping with my left.  But I also naturally stop with my right foot, then step off the bike, swing my pedal into position with my right foot to take off again.  I’m going to have to learn to push off on my left, keeping it clipped in, and not try to go against what my body wants to do when I’m stopping. 

I fell over at least one more time, maybe twice.  At this point, I lost count.  I order my sushi and kept practicing.  I would have kept going if it hadn’t been for picking up dinner for me & my son.   It was much harder to unclip with my left foot so I practiced stopping on my right, keeping my left clipped in.  It felt more natural but still, I have to actively remember to unclip as I slow, instead of waiting until I’m braking.

Saturday: Morning ride with a new friend.  I took my trail bike because there’s no way I’m going anywhere near asphalt or cement until I can ride & stop without gravity’s assistance.  An easy 10-mile ride.  I noticed we really didn’t come to a complete stop often, and I did practice the “clipping out” motion on my flat pedals to reinforce that muscle memory. 

When I got home I contemplated rearranging the living room to set up my trainer & road bike to practice indoors.   I had a sketching event in the afternoon I had to get ready for too, along with running to the bike shop to have my trail bike’s gearing adjusted & to make sure my cleats were okay.  I was told the more I use the pedals, the more they would loosen up, and that they really couldn’t adjust my cleats to make it easier to unclip. When I got back from sketching, I rearranged bookcases &  made room for my trainer.  I practiced some, so much easier to unclip on my right. 

My Road Bike, Frida.

Sunday:  Stationary trainer clipless practice!  I accidentally unclipped on my left, as I had my right foot down.  When I have my weight on my right foot, my left foot tends to point out. Experiment time.  I clipped in my left foot,  turned my heel towards my bike, toes out and instantly unclipped.  I’ve been trying to turn my heel out.    Also looking at my cleats, the left was angled more than the right. A google search on cleat placement verified that my cleat was angled to clip out heel inward.  So I counted the little marks on my right shoe cleat & lined up my left cleat to be similar.  When I went to tighten the cleat, it shifted …. Ahh, so tightening the cleat is what caused it to go crooked.   After I straightened it again, tightening it equally so it wouldn’t go sideways, I clipped in, heel out, unclip.  SO MUCH EASIER!!!  I can go back to training muscle memory to always go heel out to unclip instead of one foot one way, the other foot the other way, but I can clip out heel in as well.  More trainer practice…. 

In the evening I had another group ride with friends on the trail bike, a slow 10-mile lap which felt good.  Again, noticing my stopping (favoring the right), and working on starting on my left foot to get into the habit of it. 

Tonight I’ll take my trail bike to my long group ride, staying with the slow group as I really can’t ride it as fast as my road bike.  I’ll go back to a park to practice on grass sometime during the week, and hopefully, I’ll feel comfortable enough with it to ride my road bike in the group ride next week. 

Facing Fear

I turned 50 recently, and with that, thinking about what I miss out on because I’m afraid.

  • Afraid of what people may think
  • Afraid it will be too difficult
  • Afraid of being uncomfortable

I’ve seen 2 rabbits in less than 24 hours.  One last night in a yard as I was riding my bike (facing a fear) and one this morning while driving to work.  The one this morning was laying in the grass easement next to a busy divided highway.

A quick search on the metaphysical meaning of Rabbit mentioned facing & flushing out fear.  Wow… that’s exactly what I’ve been contemplating lately.

I had taken some Soulodge courses with Pixie Lighthorse 6 years ago or so, and I’m certain Rabbit was one of them.  I’m sure I have the lessons saved on my external hard drive at home.

This past weekend, I put my fear aside.  I went alone to a knitting group for the 1st time.  I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured if worse came to worst, I can sit in a corner and focus on my knitting.   I really had a great time. It was a small group and everyone was friendly.  I managed to get a good chunk done on a sock (now finished).  I’m planning on what I want to start for the meeting next month.

Then in the afternoon, I went to a writing group.  I know I’m a sporadic blogger and would like to change that.  This group was very inspirational and I had a lot of ideas brewing for upcoming topics.  Maybe I’ll adventure more and try my hand at poetry.

In the evening – still the same day – I went to a wine tasting for cyclists.  I’m not actually a cyclist, but I do plan on getting there.  The women I met were very encouraging, which instigated my 1st ride last evening, where I saw Rabbit.  Facing my fears after stories of falls and crashes.

Everything comes back full circle.

There and Back Again

I am back home after my trip to South Carolina.  It was a whirlwind of activity and now I’m playing catch up at home and work.

The flight out of Oklahoma was delayed slightly but there were no problems making the connection in Houston.  I had come to accept the fact that there’s nothing I can do to control flights, lay overs, delays or cancellations so there wasn’t any point in getting worked up about it.   I resolved to go with the flow, and fortunately everything went smoothly.

I had forgotten how much I love the sensation of take off in a plane.   Taxing to speed and then that little lurch in your stomach as the plane achieves lift.   The turns where you’re looking straight down out the window…. I may be claustrophobic but I’m not afraid of heights!20190304_095514_002

Then I had a “Headspace” moment (Headspace is a meditation app) where it’s often commented that regardless of the weather and clouds we experience in our minds, the sun is still shining above the clouds.    Flying above the clouds with the sun shining off the wing although I had just 15 mins earlier had been on an icy, cold, grey ground was very poignant.


I don’t usually have a problem sketching in public but I wasn’t comfortable sketching in such close conditions as on a plane. I forced myself to get my sketchbook though, because I knew this was a rare opportunity.


Monday evening I had a chance to meet up with an Art Friend I had met online a few years back.  I participated in her Travel Art Journal round robin and it was great to finally meet IRL.  Danni showed me the waterfalls in the downtown Greenville area and we stopped at Spill The Beans for coffee and chatted for quite a while.


Tuesday was all day training, and dinner with the training group but I did get to meet a local geocacher, The Scout Master and his wife for an hour of geocaching.  It was late when the dinner group got back to the hotel and I’m not a night owl anyway. I did get my South Carolina state souvenir and signed 3 puzzle caches I had solved.

Wednesday was another day of training, and then we left straight for the airport.  No delays this time, although when I checked in my kiosk printed ticket read “SEE AGENT” for my seat from Houston to OKC.  I started to get anxious I was going to be bumped but my seat was assigned at the gate.

It was great being back home and kind of weird to drive again after being shuttled around for 3 days.  I had 2 days back in the office to play catch up before next week and this weekend is time to play catch up at home.

I’m not sure I would want to travel regularly for work.  It is completely exhausting but once in a while would be okay.



In 24 hours

Tomorrow morning, I’ll get ready and head to the airport.  At this point,  I just want to get it over with.

I was excited about meeting up with geocachers in the area, and I am still excited at the idea of my 1st out-of-state geocache.   But when I told some coworkers, their reaction was less than supportive.   I meeting and going into a car with someone I didn’t know?  That’s how you get murdered.  For the past week I’ve been regaled with stories from Forensic Files, interviews with psychiatric patients and documentaries on serial killers.   Because dealing with my travel anxiety wasn’t enough, let’s throw some general anxiety into the mix.

I’m tired of living in fear of things that don’t come to pass.  What if I’m involved in a fatality collision driving to or from work?  I live near an airport, what if a plane crashes into the house?    What if someone throws a cigarette out when driving pass and catches the house on fire?

How much have I missed out on?

What if…  I meet some new people and have a great time.

What if… I explore a new city and discover some cool local hot spots.

What if…  I get to go back and now have IN REAL LIFE friends to geocache with.

and as my husband has suggested,  What If… this trip inspires more travel and weekend road trips to new places.

I guess we’ll see what happens if I get back from my trip.