Fear and Humiliation as Motivators

I splurged Friday night.  I bought a pair of Keen Springwater biking shoes and a set of CrankBrothers Candy C pedals.  I also bought a Serfas RX-921 saddle. These things have been on my wish list for quite a while. I hoped they would make my biking more pleasurable.

I installed all items on Saturday morning. I had to attach the pedal cleats to the bottoms of the shoes. Two screws for each cleat made for an easy installation. The seat took a few minutes. I don’t remember ever installing a seat with the type of hardware that I had to deal with, but I figured it out quickly. The pedals went on easily too. I had to remove the old pedals first, of course. I used a crescent wrench to remove them and had to remind myself that the threads ran in different directions from one side to the other. That’s so the cranking direction is opposite the loosening direction of the threads. I wonder how long it took someone to work that into the design of bikes. I was a bit confused when I looked at the clipless pedals and tried to figure out how to put them on. I finally realized I had to use a hex key instead of a crescent wrench.

I knew there would be a learning curve for me in dealing with the clipless pedals. I had never used them before. Although I understood they would require some training and conditioning on my part, I didn’t think through what would happen if I came to a stop on the bike and had failed to click out of the pedals.

After installing the pedals and putting the shoes on, I took the bike out onto my concrete driveway. It took a minute or two for me to figure out how to find the motion that enables the cleat to lock into the pedal mechanism. I was able to click in and click out a few times while standing astride the bike. Gaining quick confidence, I pushed down the driveway and entered the street slowly. I practiced clicking in and clicking out of the pedals. I pedaled up and down our short street three or four times, then returned to my driveway. Gliding up the incline, I attempted to dismount as I normally do with my left foot remaining on the left pedal and my right leg swinging over the bike and touching the ground. Of course, I had failed to click out of the pedals and fell directly on my left side with the bike on top of me. Somehow, my shoes popped out of the pedals and I was able to stand up. Most of my neighbors probably saw me but I didn’t turn around to verify this. I just acted as if the maneuver had been planned and was expected, and nonchalantly made some cursory checks of brakes and shifters.

Having fallen down, I expected that I would become more cautious and more cognizant of my new pedaling system.

Later in the day, I decided to try a long ride. I checked pedals and cleats, and headed down the street. I got halfway to the intersection (about 150 feet from my driveway) and noticed a rubbing sound in the front wheel. I looked down and saw that the disc brake seemed to be rubbing. I stopped to remedy the problem, and once again fell completely over on my left side with the bike on top of me. Now this was really embarrassing because it happened for the second time in view of the same neighbors who must have seen me fall the first time. This time, I sustained minor injury to my left leg.


I’m still not sure exactly what caused the scratches. I didn’t even realize I had been injured until about an hour later when I stopped to talk to a friend during my ride. After that second fall, I became obsessed with preventing a third. I thought of little else during the ride except for a continuing concentration on my feet, my shoes, and my pedals. I popped my shoes free each time I slowed down for any reason. I practiced clicking in and out of the pedals even when I was not slowing or stopping. I just built an image in my mind of falling down on my left side as a car passed by and feeling the tire crush my skull. That sobering thought kept me off the ground for the rest of the day.

Clipless pedals are great. They must also be respected. I respect them now. Will I fall down again? I will not be surprised if I do. I just need to keep conditioning myself and use my fear of death and humiliation as a motivator.

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