I went for my first bike ride of the year today. This week is “bike to work week” so seemed like a good kickoff.
I met Ben at his house, and we biked from there to Staples, then after work biked back. It was a nice ride, though hilly, which showed me that while I thought I was in decent shape, I’m not when it comes to biking.
The ride went smoothly, but I had a mishap afterwards.
Last year I bought some bike shoes and bike pedals that clip together, but hadn’t been able to put the pedals on because the old pedals were on too tightly. Ben got the old ones off for me, using a vice to hold the crank steady while he used a wrench attached to a long piece of pipe to get the leverage to loosen the pedals.
Once the new pedals were on, and the clips were attached to the bike shoes, it was time for me to try them out.
I found them very, very difficult to use. Getting clipped in is a matter of exactly lining up the clips, and putting all my weight down on it until it snaps into place. And getting out… well, that’s where the mishap occurred.
I was leaning against Ben’s porch railing, practicing getting clipped in and out, and got clipped in, but couldn’t get unclipped. To unclip the pedal, you have to rotate your foot about 60° – which wouldn’t be too bad if it was a pivot from the toe, but the clip is in the middle of the foot.
Try it right now. Put your foot flat on the floor, and try to pivot it somewhere between 45° and 90°, using the arch of your foot as the center of rotation. It’s not easy.
Unable to unclip myself, I fell sideways, crashing into the steps with the bike on top of me. I held out my hand as I fell, so although my leg hurt, it was my hand that took damage.
Ben helped me unclip by grabbing my foot and rotating it. Once free, I noticed the ring finger on my right hand was bleeding, from a couple scrapes on the side, and also I had torn the skin off my fingertip, it hung as a flap.
I mentioned this to Ben, he made an “urk” sound and went to get some bandaids. For some reason Ben’s squeamishness around blood strikes me as out of place, because he’s very matter-of-fact and non-squeamish in all other matters. As a father of two kids, he must have to deal with blood and other bodily fluids all the time…
The mechanical advantage of using clips is pretty big, they make it so that you apply energy to the bike on the upstroke in addition to the downstroke, without a clip you are only applying energy on the downstroke. Clips also make it easier to stand up on the bike, for going up steep hills.
For those reasons, I’ll practice using the clips again until I get it, but right now, I’m not a big fan of them.