When it comes to falling off your bike due to clipless pedals, “there’s them that has, and them that will”. I now reside in the category of them that has.
I switched to clipless pedals almost a year ago. I was approaching my first duathlon, and I’d read a lot about the difference they made in performance. Being a strong believer that every little bit helps when you are an old goat, I decided to take the plunge, after a fair amount of research.
One of the lessons I found through research was that many riders, at one point or another, forget that they are clipped in when they approach a stop and fall helplessly to the ground, still clipped solidly into the pedals. The technique that I read and applied suggested clipping in and out of each pedal 100 times to ingrain the muscle memory, and mental habit, of unclipping… to get the feel for it. And, up until tonight, I’d avoided the embarrassing public fall.
Even tonight, I claim the fall wasn’t really my fault. I was rushing to squeeze in a ride between a number of other priorities. I’d checked out of my previous hotel earlier in the day, and checked into the new one after a late departure from work (don’t ask… it’s a long story). Having dragged my bags into the hotel, and having dug out my cycling clothes, I pulled all the bike parts out of the trunk and put the rocket together. That involved reinstalling the rear wheel, which required working the chain back onto the sprockets. That done, I clipped in and started off… and the pedals spun freely. Oops, the chain had popped off the front sprocket. You know that split second when you realize something bad is going to happen, but there’s nothing you can do about it? Yeah, me too.
Fortunately, nothing broke. I was able to roll slightly and avoid landing squarely on anything that might snap (other than the blackberry in my back pocket, which seems to have survived). The greatest injury seems to have been to my ego, but there was no one else in the parking lot to witness the fiasco, so I guess even that was minor.
On a more positive note, the ride went well. I’m starting to get a feel for the bike and the gearing. On a completely flat route, I was able to average around 18mph, including stops at a few heavily traveled intersections. I sustained a steady 21mph on the longer, uninterrupted legs. According to the polar bike computer, I hit 28 mph at one point.
Tomorrow is strength workout, and possibly the open water swim if I can get off work early enough. Hopefully I can remember how to clip out of my goggles.