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.
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.