Beware the clipless pedals. They’re more efficient, but they’re dangerous (at first).

A Roscoe Village Bikes staffer teaches me how to use my new pedals and shoes.

My cyclist husband-to-be got me clipless pedals for Christmas; he’s been trying to get me on that bandwagon for nearly a year now. I resisted, thanks to my clumsiness, but it’s hard to say no when they’re wrapped up so nicely!

He also got me some pretty sweet triathlon shoes, but they were too small for my big ol’ clown feet. (It turns out Pearl Izumi apparently doesn’t make cycling shoes for women with size 10 feet. Hmpf.)

I was still able to stall putting the pedals on for a while, because:

— I couldn’t find a local bike shop that had tri shoes for women

— Regular women’s cycling shoes weren’t readily available either

— Men’s cycling shoes didn’t fit me right

— When I found a good pair of Shimanos on, I accidentally ordered too big and had to wait for the exchange to go through

What it came down to, though, was fear: I was afraid of falling off my bike; of getting hit by a car; of getting hurt; of (fill in the blank with some mostly irrational fear).

The last time I fell off my bike was post-hip surgery in 2009. I got some nasty road rash on my forearm, which is still scarred, and I banged up my shoulder pretty bad. So the last thing I wanted to do was fall off my bike due to adding parts that attach to my feet.

But by January this year, I finally bought the argument that I’d be a more efficient cyclist and that it’s safer to use clipless pedals.

Fast forward to late March when I got my bike back from Roscoe Village Bikes after its spring tune up and installation of my clipless pedals.

One of the staff members was kind enough to show me how to use the shoes and the pedals. It took like 10 or 15 minutes walking me through clipping in and out and back in with each foot.

He also gave me a few pointers, one of which was to unclip both feet when rolling to a stop, and resting my feet on the pedals so I could catch myself if need be.

There was one problem with this approach — I am notoriously clumsy. And in fact, I tried to use this tactic near Navy Pier along the lakefront path later that day and almost crashed into traffic at the intersection of Grand and the path. I also hurt my lady parts, because my feet slipped off and I tried to touch the ground to stop. Ow!

The other issue I had was when climbing up a ramp and going around a tight corner. I tried to unclip and couldn’t, so slammed into the wall with my left elbow. It hurt SOOOO bad that I yelled, “Owwww. Oh. My. God. That hurts so bad!!” (I should get a medal for not cursing, which is what I would have preferred to do. There was a small child nearby.)

So far I’ve ridden my bike nearly 100 miles and those are the only two incidents I’ve had (and they were both on my first ride). Maybe I’ve been lucky. Or maybe I picked the right set-up. Either way, I’ve been surprised that I haven’t had any true accidents or falls off my bike.

Anybody else fared that well? If not, what are your falling stories after using clipless pedals for the first time? I’m finally ready to hear ’em!


Filed under Cycling, Cycling shoes

2 responses to “Beware the clipless pedals. They’re more efficient, but they’re dangerous (at first).

  1. I have avoided clipless pedals for all the reasons you mention. People swear they are life-changing once you get used to them, but I am still too scared! Good for you, K! :-)