A Clipless Pedal Virgin No More

I took off on my ride today fully armed with the knowledge that was going down and there was no getting around it. Life did not disappoint.

I took off at 5:50, headed for our 6:15 rendez-vous. I was very diligent to clip out when I got anywhere near a stopping point – HA! I had this down. I WOULD NOT FALL! I met up with my friends and we took off with me, as usual, working my ass off to keep up but keep up I did for a good 10 miles through relatively bucolic areas of big houses and manicured lawns. I did not fall but my friends started to get away from me.

I finally got to a big intersection and of course they had gotten through and were waiting on the other side. I clipped out and waited and waited and waited for the green left turn arrow and it never came so I decided to ride over to the pole toward my left and push the crossing button. Only problem was I so aggravated by the light not changing and so hell bent to hit the button that forgot my feet were in jail and when I pulled up to the pole and stopped I fell right over to my right. Whump!

I picked myself up and looked at the bike and inspected it for damage. I noticed a screw on the sidewalk but it didn’t look like it belonged on the bike so I left it there. When the light changed I walked across (too shaky to get on the bike) and declared to my friends, “At least I got THAT over with” thinking I had had my fall for the day. If only. When I calmed down I tried to clip in with my left foot and just couldn’t do it. What was wrong? Was I so aggravated and so full of adrenaline that I had jus lost it? I tried and tried and tried but could not get the shoe back in the clip. I finally took the shoe off to check the cleat and lo and behold it was minus a screw and turned sideways. Too bad I ignored that screw. My friend went and fetched it, I fixed my shoe and we were off again.

We rode and rode and rode and I got hungrier and hungrier and crankier and crankier. Finally we stopped to have an energy bar break. As I pulled up to stop I pulled my right foot free, slowed to an almost stop and leaned to the left – Whump! Down again. Friend B thought it was all her fault for talking to me while I stopped and Lord knows I’d like to blame her but no – it was the 21CM spaz show all the way.

At this point I really was a little shaken up about the whole thing. I did NOT want to fall again. As we started climbing out in the country I got really nervous remembering someone’s (Nytro? MoJo? Juls?) tale of falling over from losing momentum on a hill. I started having a bit of a mental breakdown and decided the way to deal was to clip out and ride with the arches of my feet on the pedals. This is a really hard way to ride a bike, my friends but it gave some peace of mind and for a while it got me through.

I continued to grapple with a crisis of confidence for several miles. My friends were way ahead of me since they have been riding regularly all summer and are much stronger than me, anyhow. I grumbled to myself about what a wuss I am, how incapable I am, how much I hate riding long distance and on and on and on. My legs were tired and dammit I just ran a damned marathon – what was I doing going on a 50 mile ride. Blah, blah, blah on and on. On the plus side we were out in the middle of nowhere and it was beautiful. I finally got annoyed with myself for all that grumbling and tried to stop and then my energy bar started to kick in and I was fine.

I found my friends at an intersection helping a couple of other cyclists plan a route. I got the scoop on how to get back and told them to just take off and not worry about me any more. I really didn’t want to hold them up.

The thing about biking that makes it harder than running sometimes is that you can go really far really fast but when you get tired you can’t just give up and start walking. You can, but it might take a really, really, really long time to get home, especially since you are toddling along on shoes that are not meant for walking. I have to say that 40 miles into this ride I was sick to death of making my legs go round and round and round and really wanted it to stop. Besides, my groove thang was getting pretty sore. Other than that I felt okay and I figured out that I wouldn’t fall over going uphill as long as I kept pedaling so pedal I did. Round and round and round and round. The scenery was very pretty and I knew that soon enough I would come to Peets, I could get my groove thang off that seat and my life would be good again.

48.75 miles after I started out I had a latte in my hand – ahhhhh… I called a friend to see if she wanted to join me and take me and my bike home but she was busy and that was good. I finished my latte and started the ride home and felt much better about that than I would have felt if I had taken a ride.

Coffee fortified and buoyant with my proximity to the end of the line I took off and cranked on home in record time. I even passed a few people on the way! When I got home I went to wash the copious quantities of bike grease off my legs including grease in the shape of the chain. When I started scrubbing it off it hurt! It wasn’t just bike grease – I had a boo boo. That dark area is a bruise. Obviously I fell right on the big gear.

Lessons learned:
1). When in doubt – clip out! With both feet
2). As long as you keep pedaling you won’t fall over
3). I need to eat sooner than my friends which is odd because they are both really lean and I am not so lean but apparently my fat is stuck pretty hard and not available and I run out of gas faster than they do.
4). I need to quit bitching when the going gets tough. I just annoy myself.
5). I don’t really like long rides. I just don’t. 30, maybe 40 miles is okay but after that I’m done.

Next up is either a metric century or the 35 miles alternative next weekend. I just can’t decide. What do you think?

Here is a Google Earth shot of today’s 59 mile ride

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13 Responses to A Clipless Pedal Virgin No More

  1. Firefly's Running says:

    Way to keep up with the ride.

  2. Firefly's Running says:

    Way to keep up with the ride.

  3. Bolder says:

    ouch.it’s all about the bike.but, not CRASHING the bike.unless, it’s a borrowed bike.but, not mine.we’ve all been there… was it my story?… i don’t know if i told it?… my last ride in Toronto was a monster ride up the escarpment, i flatted out on a hill, took 45mins to change my first evah flat on a ride, and then when finally done, jumped on clipped in, and ‘mayday, mayday’ we have no momentum and are going down.did a perfect headstand on my helmet, helmet on the road, bike towards the sky, until said bike landed on me.decided to move to Boulder as Toronto was no longer hospitable to me AND my bike!

  4. Susan says:

    That google earth is too cool. I’m still a virgin too.

  5. jeanne says:

    wow, now THAT’s an epic tale! I remember the days when you could ride a bike with any old shoes. why do they have to make everything so hard??So what’s a metric century? Is it 100k? If so, then I’d wait til I was a bit more comfy on the bike to try it. Good job not giving up though! You’re a better man than I am, gunga din.

  6. susie says:

    That’s a nasty looking cut. But you have evidence to brag about while you complain about the distance!

  7. Stillwater Heron says:

    Wow!A war wound!!Good job hanging in there :)I’d go with the 38 mile ride..but I don’t enjoy any ride over 5o miles..or at least my woman bit’s don’t…

  8. WADDLER26.2 says:

    Wow-What a ride!! You hung in there and learned alot. Next time it will be easier. I love to bike as long as I don’t have to stop!! I always fall to the right too! It always has battle scars.

  9. Mother of Chaos says:

    Ouch! And I’m tired just LOOKING at your route.My husband keeps saying he’s going to start riding his bike. The bike that has been in the shed for four years now. That one. Yes. He’s going to pump up those tires and go riding aaaaaaaany minute, now…You’ve got us both beat, ma’am. Hats off to you. 🙂

  10. Fe-lady says:

    Congrats on your long ride! I haven’t seen that kind of mileage for a LONNNGGGG time! Love your new “tatoo”- it’s really a badge of courage. Wear that injury proudly! Ya did great!

  11. Juls says:

    Rookie marks AND a war wound. Ouch. It wasn’t me who told the tale of falling on a hill, but of course I have experienced a nasty one using the pedals: They were the Look Pedals and I was in my late teens/early 20s – I *stupid* car tried to U-turn ahead of me (where it wasn’t allowed BTW) and had to back up as I was coming behind him. I’d was just clipping in, my foot slipped as I tried to come around and I came down on the bar. I was walking bow-legged for a week following. Not lovely – so be careful.

  12. Laurel says:

    Wow, that’s great! 48 miles is reeeeallly far. My husband did 50 this weekend with his friends (only because his friend tricked him into going farther) and he looked like he was going to die when he got back. And we live in Miami, where it’s flat. The only hill we have is a bridge that goes about 20ft above sea level. Congratulations, you should be proud.By the way, that’s really weird that your daughter’s name is Laurel. Freaked me out a bit when I read that.

  13. greyhound says:

    Mega props to you and your groove thang. LOL! The fancy parts and the whole clip in clip out thing will sort themselves out.

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