Clipless Pedals: Taking It On The Road

3 Dec


I may have mentioned once or twice that while I deliver a kick ass spin class on a pretty regular basis, I am not much of a road biker. (Check out this post from last summer to see how I roll.)  The fact is, I am kind of a wimp about it.  Recently I had the opportunity to sign up for an amazing 100 mile road ride that takes place in my area each May and is dedicated to a worthy cause.  Check out the details here—> Ride For Missing Children.  My dedication to the cause made me think that I was ready to face my fears and head out for the open road.  During the actual ride, there are police escorts and you are riding two by two in a huge line of riders (500 or so), so I figured I’d be totally safe.  Well, I guess I forgot to take into consderation the amount of time that I need to spend training, which again, I’m totally cool with, but the training rides don’t include police escorts and a friendly companion.

So for starters, I needed to come up with an actual road bike. No problem. I have a friend that is approximately the same size that let me borrow her bike.  Since the weather here in Central New York has been unseasonably warm, I decided that I would take the bike out for a little practice spin before the snow really sets in.  The bike has clipless pedals, which I am totally proficient at using-ON A SPIN BIKE!  I guess I failed to consider the difference being on the actual road would make when clipping and unclipping!  So a good deal of my weekend was spent riding around my lawn in circles, clipping and unclipping and nearly falling over. I’m sure the neighbors think I’m completely crazy, and my kids and their friends had a great time laughing and taking video, which may or may not have been posted to Facebook.   I am actually getting pretty good at it, but not nearly good enough to take it on the road just yet.  I’m thinking that next I need to take it to an empty lot somewhere just to make sure I won’t fall into the middle of traffic!

Any advice from seasoned road bikers would be greatly appreciated, because some time between now and May 18th, I’m going to need to figure it out!


2 Responses to “Clipless Pedals: Taking It On The Road”

  1. Peter LaPorte December 9, 2011 at 12:24 am #

    Welcome to clipless! As a roadie and an indoor cycling instructor, a couple of thoughts for you to consider as you prepare. First, you will fall. Everyone does at least once. Forgetting to uncleat at a stop light – or being too slow – is inevitable. Then there’s wheel-touches…when your front wheel touches the wheel of the cyclist in front of you. 80% of your going down. Just make sure you hang on to the bars should you start falling. Let the bars take the impact, not your wrist or collar bone!

    The photo with your post shows Shimano SPD pedals. Lots of folks use these on road bikes but they are not ideal for road riding and especially for distances over 25 miles. While you can use your spin class shoes – and walk around without a hobble, SPD pedals don’t have a platform area large enough for efficient and effective power transfer. Road pedals (including Shimano SPD-SL types) have a large surface area and a larger cleat. Much more efficient. Of course, you can only enter the pedal from one side (unlike SPDs) and you will need road shoes (not mtn bike shoes). But if you’re going to keep riding or get your own road machine, it will be well worth the investment. Good Luck!

    • chrispins December 9, 2011 at 12:46 am #

      Thanks for the great information Peter! I did not know that SPD pedals were not ideal for longer distances. I do have road shoes, but with SPD cleats. I guess I willl see how they work for me once I get into more road riding in the spring. Thanks for commenting!

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