Tag Archives: clipless pedals

The Curse of the Clipless Pedals

In spite of the title, I really do like my new clipless pedals but I have come to realize there is an added risk of injury while using them. From the time I bought my recumbent bike until I bought the clipless pedels eight months later, I fell off my bike a total of zero times, although I did have one or two close calls. In the 30 days since putting on the clipless pedals I hit the ground four times, and this was during a month were I had many problems getting out on the bike and only logged about a hundred miles.

To be fair, the first fall was not unexpected as I was trying to get used to unclipping. The second one was when my chain fell off and I lost my balance. The last two happened Monday morning within a block from my work.

I mentioned before that there is a small percentage of my ride where I use the sidewalk instead of the street because, until yesterday, I thought it was safer. I was on the sidewalk, not far from my work when I spotted a kid (I want to say “little bastard” but this is a family blog) coming toward me on his bmx bike like a bat out of hell. He was peddling as fast as he could and he was traveling in anything but a straight line. I slowed way down, expecting him to do the same, but he just kept coming as fast as he could. It was like a game of chicken and I lost.

I steered off the sidewalk to avoid a collision. I probably should have yelled. “Slow down you young wipper snapper,” but I guess I am not ready for that yet. Since I had already slowed down too much, when I hit the grass I was going too slow to keep my balance and I tried to unclip fast enough to catch myself, but the half second delay was too long.

I wasn’t hurt, just a little pissed at the…kid. I got back on the bike and traveled another two or three hundred feet until I was just across the street from my work. I looked behind me and saw there were cars coming but I had plenty of time to cross so I turned to the left and my rear wheel came out from under me and I hit the ground hard.

I was in the middle of the road with cars coming so I quickly got up, even though I was in pain, and limped to the center of the street. By then one car had already stopped and the others were slowing down. I was in too much pain to be embarrassed. I limped across the street, unlocked the door and brought my bike inside. I then had to sit down because the adrenalin had made me nauseous.

At first I attributed the accident to being distracted by what happened three minutes earlier but my co-worker pointed out something that made much more sense. He said the grass I rode onto was probably wet. That would explain everything. The bottom of the wheels had dried from the short ride but the sides were still wet, so when I leaned into the turn, the wet part of the wheels contacted the road and down I went.

It is just another example of how one bad thing can lead to another. I think the next time something happens that is bad enough to speed up my heart rate, I might just stop for a few minutes before resuming.

The ride home was difficult because, besides my leg being cut up, my butt hurt like hell. I pushed my seat forward a little because sitting forward was fine but leaning back was painful and this allowed me to push back farther in the seat so I was less reclined. Unfortunately, as a recumbent rider, less reclined in still reclined. It was the first time since I owned the bike that I would have traded it for a conventional bicycle.

I am still relatively new to the clipless pedals so I am sure I will get better at unclipping but I believe there will always be a slight delay and I will have to accept that risk. I also think it is possible that sitting upright on a conventional bike might be less risky. I don’t know. Perhaps someone with more experience could leave a comment on the subject. For now, I think once my butt heals, I will continue what I was doing but perhaps I will try to anticipate problems a unclip a bit sooner.



My First Cycling Shoes and Clipless Pedals

Back in october I was at Dunedin Cyclery buying tires and I talked to one of the guys about clipless pedals. I had never used them before so I wanted to learn more. I spoke with Dave, who told me that once I tried them I would never go back. That intrigued me and I wanted to order them right away but Christmas was coming up and I couldn’t be thinking of myself.

The next time we were there my wife bought me a $50 gift card that she gave me for Christmas. Of course, I wanted to apply that toward the shoes and pedals so shortly after Christmas we went back and I tried shoes on but, as usual, it is very difficult to find shoes in my size. I usually wear a size 14 but sometimes I can fit into a 13 if it is very wide, which they never are. This time the largest they had was a size 47, which equals “a little small” in American size. This time I worked with Jim and he told me that a 48 was as big as he could get without having them custom-made, so we ordered that and I hoped they would fit.

I waited weeks for them to arrive and I was starting to think they forgot about me but they finally came in after more than three weeks, perhaps four. To be fair, I was told that they needed to wait for a bigger order to get a better price. I understood and was in no hurry, but I was hoping it was sooner rather than later. I got a call the Monday before last that they were in and I had to wait until that Saturday to pick them up.

This time I saw Dave again and he found the size 48 among all the shoes and to my surprise, they fit. Also to my surprise, they were not the shoes I ordered. I wanted the Diadora Escape 2 because I needed a shoe I could walk in and they seemed like the best choice. I don’t need to walk far but I typically stop at the supermarket on the way to work to get something for lunch and again on the way back to use the washroom (I drink a lot of water at work) and to pick up anything we need at home that will fit in my bag. The shoes I just tried on were definitely not good for walking.

Cycling Shoes

I was starting to worry that I would have to wait another three or four weeks but it turned out there was another pair of size 48 shoes that were overlooked. Fortunately they were mine. Those fit too, which I was very happy about. I then needed to get pedals.

I decided to pay the extra $25 for the Shimano PD-M324  pedals. They are two-way pedals that allow me to ride with my regular shoes if I need to. I paid $85 for the set and just noticed they are $49 at Amazon. Damn. Oh well, that’s what happens when you are learning. I don’t feel too bad though because good customer service has a value of its own. I also got a good deal on the shoes.

Shimano PD-M324

I went for a short ride that Sunday and was amazed at how much easier it was to pedal. I felt like I had been riding with one muscle group tied behind my back all this time. The next day was the real test when I rode to work.  I noticed my cadence was faster than usual with little or no more effort. Everything went very well with a few minor exceptions.

There is a stoplight that I go through that is sensitive to the weight of a car, so naturally when I get to it, my bike does not trip the sensor and I am stuck waiting for a car to come by and turn the light green. Sometimes it is a long wait, so when I turned the corner and saw it was green, I peddled as fast as I could to get through the light but it turned yellow and I had to break quickly. When I did that I nearly fell over because I couldn’t disengage my left foot fast enough. The bike fell over but I was able to get my foot out just in time to save myself. That happened, to a lesser degree, a couple more times before I got used to it.

All in all, I am very happy with my purchase. Now I need to get some cold weather clothing before winter is over.