The good news is I proved to myself that I can ride my bike with the clipless pedals. Those of you who offered your encouragement months ago will be happy to know I finally made the plunge. My husband and I rode from Georgetown to Bethesda on the Capital Crescent Trail and back with only one incident to report. The bad news is I’m still not fast enough to keep up with him.
I had the pedals installed long before we went to Italy, but had been building up in my mind the difficulty I might have learning to ride with them, picturing myself lying on the pavement every time I attempted to stop. Interestingly enough I had worked myself into the same sort of mindset before I drove a stick-shift car in traffic for the first time. In both cases I am happy to report the worry was much worse than the actuality.
From the first CLICK-CLICK as my feet became one with the pedals, I was grateful not to have them slipping off all the time and I could sense the added power of being able to pull as well as push. But I must admit there is a learning curve. Here’s what I managed to learn today:
– I am left-footed as well as left-handed, meaning that I start and stop with my right foot on the ground, not my left as with most people.
– You can actually start riding before clicking in.
– My left foot comes out most easily by turning my heel to the outside. I need to turn my right heel to the inside to release it.
– If you are going through a residential area with lots of starts and stops, it is easier just not to clip in in between.
– When you are attempting to stop and dismount, make sure your foot doesn’t slip back into the clip. That was my undoing.
– I hate walking in those bike shoes on pavement because they have a little thing that protrudes on the bottom of the sole.
I was fine all the way to Bethesda, priding myself on getting on and off several times and negotiating multiple stop signs. It was when I got to Bethesda (facing Woodmont Avenue at the end of the trail) that I had my little incident. I had my right foot on the ground and was taking my left foot off the pedal when it slipped back into the clip and I toppled right over into the gravel.
My pride was probably hurt more than my bloody elbow or my hip as I looked around for a familiar face to find none and was asked by multiple strangers if I was hurt. After I had unclipped the offending foot and managed to right myself and my bicycle, my cycling partner appeared to face my rage about why we couldn’t stay together, definitely fueled by the fact that I had just embarrassed myself by falling over at a dead stop in front of strangers.
He claims that he must ride at a faster cadence so as not to re-injure his knee. When I said, “Bullshit,” he countered with “No one can ride as slowly as you do.” Ouch! Both of us later regretted these hurtful statements, but we had let them fly.
I actually did much better going back to Georgetown, passing 3 bicyclists. That sounds great until I admit the trail is all downhill in that direction.
I took an Aleve when I got home to rid myself of the stiffness in my hand and elbow, the same one that has been waking me up at night and now has another reason to do so.
I have concluded that I must either be willing to ride by myself, find a new riding partner who is not training for a triathlon and doesn’t have a health condition that necessitates riding fast, or in the worst case just get rid of my bicycle. Hopefully it won’t come to that.
I will make the same statement about biking I made earlier this week about walking: If you want to ride and talk to me, be forewarned it will be at a leisurely pace, especially if there are hills. I am 59 years old, retired, and still trying to figure out what’s the big rush!