Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'm Clipped In!

The misty autumnal weather continued into today though I had hoped for a break. Not that it was raining hard, but misting and dark and very cool for this time of the year. That combined with being a little tired and I got off to a really late start for my Wednesday ride today. I didn't leave the house until around 10:30 and the dismal weather caused me to change my plans for the day. I had hoped to ride up the Wissahiken into and through Mt. Airy in hopes of getting all the way to Wynncote and the Reconstructionist Rabbinical college where I teach. I thought I had mapped out a route that might allow me to take my bike at least sometimes on teaching days. I was also carrying with me a new set of Shimano PD-M324 Pedals that I ordered. They arrived yesterday and my plan was to stop at the bike shop on the way home from the ride not only to have them put on, but more importantly, to see if I could find a comfortable bike shoe given my small, wide foot. These pedals are set up to use cleats on one side but a regular shoe on the other side. I figured this would allow me to use clipless when I'm just out riding, but still be able to wear regular shoes when I'm using the bike during the work day. But the unknown was whether I would find shoes that worked for me. But bummed out by the weather I decided to go to the bike shop first. Indeed I found a really nice pair of shoes, much less expensive than I had imagined, that fit fine. So I waited while they put the cleats on the shoes and the pedals on the bike. At that point I was going to start my ride (in regular shoes) but the weather had worsened. It was really kind of raining so I went home where, following the advice of the salesman at Bicycle Therapy, I stood over the bike in a doorway practicing getting in and out of one pedal at a time. I must say I felt like a jerk for awhile until I found the spot on the first foot and could get in and out reasonably well. Then I started on the other foot. By the time I felt, not exactly comfortable, but willing to give it a real life try, the rain had stopped. Still no sun and cool enough to wear a jacket (in August!) but I re-started my ride with the same destination in mind and wearing the new shoes and working the cleats in and out. Now, before I continue the saga, just let me say that I continue to ruminate on the inappropriateness of the term "clipless pedals." I know the history, that they are called clipless because they replace toe-clips (hence without toe-clips=clipless.) But it is really the only cycling term I've come across that is counter intuitive and, in fact, misleading. These shoes clip into the pedal. They should, by all rights be called "clip-in" pedals. Ah well, so much for logic. Anyway, I managed pretty well. I was told by someone to expect to fall four times while learning to use them. I only fell once. Very minor fall that I hardly felt. I am able to get into the pedals really well now, but getting out of the left to put my foot down is still a second or two slower than I want it to be. But that will come. Do they make a difference? It may be too soon to tell. I certainly felt the extra pull going up some of the big hills I took today and even felt a better level of efficiency on the flats. But I'm no racer and I'm not sure how much in the end they add. We'll see. Meanwhile, now I know what their like.

I rode into Mount Airy and realized that while I wasn't certain how long more it would take me to get to Wynncote and back, I'd already spent an hour and because of my late start didn't have the time to find out today. I had to be home before 4 PM and would need to eat and shower before that. But just riding around Mt. Airy is quite lovely. I passed this great house with this great piece on its front lawn. Took the picture and headed home only managing about 20 miles. Not much for a Wednesday, but I'm still a little tired from the weekend and my legs felt heavier than they have lately.

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