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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179

    Fear, fear, fear, plain old fear to clip and unclip. Advice please!

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    This may sound weird, but I've been riding all my life on bikes with plain pedals. I can pop my feet off both pedals easily at any time I want to. Now that I can afford a better bike and I want to take my cycling passion up a notch I bought a new Treak Lexa road bike with clip less pedals but I feel trapped in these things. I am locked into the bike which is not necessary bad (I know); me and the bike, just one being ;-) But its not easy to clip out. In fact, I usually clip out of the right, come to a stop and then clip out of the left. Most times I can remember to do so, but my muscle memory is so strong that the left foot "thinks" to be able to step right onto the ground and it does try to do so and the bike starts leaning over, I lose my balance, and fall. This happened first in the "maiden voyage" at a big intersection and thank goodness I was at the border of the intersection with no cars behind plus two very good experienced riders with me that alerted the drivers of the falling cyclist (oh boy). I was so ashamed and this happened at the end of a 12 mile bike ride that went really well.

    This keeps happening and I am developing a phobia of riding, which is so weird for me. I've always been a very confident rider.

    Help! What can I do? What about those Look Keo easy pedals? I currently have the Shimano PD-R540 SPD-SL. Should I enroll a basic road biking class? I need something, because I just don't know if I can keep going in this downward spiral into a fear of riding. I really enjoy riding and the enormous benefits associated to it and I don't want fear to interfere with this process. I won't give up but I need some advice in order to overcame this fear that makes me feel like I'm starting to learn how to ride a bike for the first time (silly I know!).

    BTW, I got fitted a week ago and the fitter re-arranged the clip position and and loosened one that was way too tight. Money well spent, for sure!
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Richmond, VA
    Posts
    333
    Are you sure they are set as loose as possible? It is like ski bindings- don't set tight until ready- there is a + and - sign on the pedal and you just turn with an allen wrench- also- the cleats on your shoe must be tight or they will turn with the pedal and not release as quickly.

    Hang in there! It gets easier! I practiced clipping and unclipping, both sides two different times for a full 15 minutes (after having wrecked in gravel in front of a parking lot full of teenage boys!) hahahaha

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Flagstaff AZ
    Posts
    2,521
    Make sure they are on the loosest setting; take it to the shop and have them check if you are not sure.

    Then, take the bike to a grassy area. Practice clipping in and out on both sides (not just one) cause if you only do one something will happen and you will fall the other way.

    Or, put your bike on a trainer first, and practice clipping in and out and in and out until you are used to it.

    Now, your old ways may still be dominant, and you may still fall over at least one more time; but generally it does not kill you; you get a few bruises and some reinforcement that you don't want to do that again and you will be fine. It is like anything; it takes a little practice.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Uncanny Valley
    Posts
    14,645
    A few tip-overs are a pretty common part of the learning curve ... they sure were for me. Usually the worst bruise is to the ego. Hope that's all you've had.

    +1 on making sure the pedals are set pretty loose while you're learning. Did your fitter loosen them all the way?

    I didn't quite understand what you said about tipping over to the left even after your right foot is on the ground, though. Are you trying to stay in the saddle while you're stopped? Most bikes aren't built to let you do that. Get in the habit of coming forward off the saddle as you bring your foot to the ground, and hoisting yourself back up as a part of powering up to take off.

    Basically, clipped or not, you usually want to keep a foot on a pedal when you're at a stop sign or stop light, to let you take off as quickly as possible when you want or need to. There's no reason to put both feet down every time you stop, and safety/maneuverability is a reason not to.

    You'll hear different opinions on whether you should make a habit of always unclipping the same side. My feeling on it is that getting used to one side will let you build muscle memory more quickly. Once you're very confident getting in and out of the pedals, then you can practice on the other side - it's good to be able to unclip either side in case you need to for whatever reason.
    Speed comes from what you put behind you. - Judi Ketteler

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    northern Virginia
    Posts
    5,854
    +1 on practicing on a grassy area.

    I had SPD pedals for years. I always clip out with my right foot first. Due to an old ankle injury, it was most comfortable to clip out by turning my ankle inward with my foot at the top of the pedal stroke.

    After getting a new bike, my knee started to hurt so I switched to Speedplay pedals. With the Speedplays, I had to relearn to clip out, because it had to be done by turning my ankle outward with my foot at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I had to overcome a habit that had become so ingrained that I did it without thinking about it.

    So for my first few rides with the new pedals, I repeated the phrase "down and out" to myself periodically through the ride, and especially whenever I was in a situation where I might need to stop and clip out. Down and out, down and out, down and out. Before I knew it, the new way of clipping out had become second nature to me.

    So, try coming up with a phrase to remind you what you have to do. Something like "right foot down" or "foot down on the ground" or anything to remind you that you need to have your right foot on the ground before you try to unclip left.

    Re: the fear, bear in mind that everyone who uses clipless pedals has fallen because of them. It's a rite of passage. Welcome to the club!!

    - Gray Trek Madone 4.7 road bike, mystery crack in top tube repaired by Calfee, Bontrager Affinity RXL saddle
    - Red Trek 6000 mountain bike, Bontrager Evoke WSD saddle

    Gone but not forgotten:
    - Silver Trek 2000 road bike
    - Two awesome and worn out Juliana saddles

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179
    Quote Originally Posted by OakLeaf View Post

    I didn't quite understand what you said about tipping over to the left even after your right foot is on the ground, though. Are you trying to stay in the saddle while you're stopped? Most bikes aren't built to let you do that. Get in the habit of coming forward off the saddle as you bring your foot to the ground, and hoisting yourself back up as a part of powering up to take off.
    Thanks for reading my thread. Mostly ego hurt plus my knee, elbow and a long scratch over the knee that I had no idea how that happened :-). And I will surely loosen the pedals to be sure that they aren't too tight.

    You are right. I fell to the right side, was on the saddle and my left foot was unclipped. So I lost balance while my right food was still clipped. Jeez, why I can't remember these details? Now I have to add acrobat to my resume since I have no idea why I did that. The other day I fell to the left side so now I'm getting the events confused.
    Last edited by Maye; 03-27-2012 at 02:24 PM.
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179
    NY Biker! Love your mantra: "down and out". I will surely add that to my list in addition to "don't freak out". And thanks for the welcome to the club!!
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Concord, MA
    Posts
    13,141
    I am confused. You're trying to stay on the saddle while stopped, with one foot down? You would have to be an acrobat to accomplish that feat!

    Hope I can be clear, but try to think of the sequence as unclip one foot as you approach a stop. Then, in one motion, lean your bike slightly in the direction of your unclipped foot, brake, and get off of the saddle. This should eventually happen quickly and smoothly. When you are stopped, you should be clipped in on one foot, with the unclipped foot supporting you on the ground. Probably, only your toe will be on the ground, and you will be straddling the top tube, out of the saddle. The clipped in foot needs to be ready to push off, so you can push yourself up, onto the saddle. It may take a bit or two to get your unclipped foot back into the pedal, but that happens with practice.
    I know some new riders feel they need to unclip both feet before a stop, but this is not necessary. I agree with Oak. Practice with one foot, develop the muscle memory, and then start on the other foot.
    2015 Trek Silque SSL
    Specialized Oura

    2011 Guru Praemio
    Specialized Oura

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179
    Quote Originally Posted by Crankin View Post
    I am confused. You're trying to stay on the saddle while stopped, with one foot down? You would have to be an acrobat to accomplish that feat!

    Hope I can be clear, but try to think of the sequence as unclip one foot as you approach a stop. Then, in one motion, lean your bike slightly in the direction of your unclipped foot, brake, and get off of the saddle. This should eventually happen quickly and smoothly. When you are stopped, you should be clipped in on one foot, with the unclipped foot supporting you on the ground. Probably, only your toe will be on the ground, and you will be straddling the top tube, out of the saddle. The clipped in foot needs to be ready to push off, so you can push yourself up, onto the saddle. It may take a bit or two to get your unclipped foot back into the pedal, but that happens with practice.
    I know some new riders feel they need to unclip both feet before a stop, but this is not necessary. I agree with Oak. Practice with one foot, develop the muscle memory, and then start on the other foot.
    Thanks for taking the time to explain how to do the unclipping in detail :-) To be honest with you (embarrassed here), everything happened so fast that I can't remember the details like do I was in the saddle?, maybe over the top tube? I can't remember I should try to join Cirque Du Soleil next But I do remember falling to the right side since I have all the bruises in this side and almost cried like a little girl. The funny thing is that last Sunday I rode with two very experienced riders and I felt so confident about my clip/unclipping technique that I was probably careless or too confident today. I fell while riding with them but it was a minor fall, not like today which I even scratched really bad the bar tape, over my knee, the side of my leg and my elbow. Maybe I'm over thinking this. Since I'm so stubborn, I'll practice again tomorrow until I have this nailed down. One thing I'll do, I will check the pedals to see if they are too tight. And breathe...
    Last edited by Maye; 03-27-2012 at 05:40 PM.
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Location
    Colorado
    Posts
    1,632
    Practice practice practice. Do you have a bike trainer you can use which will hold your bike for you while you practice?

    All this talk reminded me of this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X975EVV3Egg

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179
    Quote Originally Posted by solobiker View Post
    Practice practice practice. Do you have a bike trainer you can use which will hold your bike for you while you practice?

    All this talk reminded me of this video.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X975EVV3Egg
    Ha ha!! This video is so funny!! It's always great to see the funny side of things. Yep, I have a trainer and tomorrow will practice in it.
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Dayton, Ohio
    Posts
    1
    I'm a brand new rider, and just did my first ride clipping in. I had tried a set of my bf's Look Keo pedals on a trainer, but I had a really hard time clipping in and out. He then surprised me with a set of Speedplay Light Action pedals and they were soooooo much easier! The springs have less tension, so it's easier to clip in and out. I only fell over once (because I lost momentum trying to put my water bottle away, and rode off the bike path), but I was able to unclip my right foot on the way down. The bf tried them on his Cervelo, and is going to go pick up a pair of Speedplay Zeros now (adjustable float). He's an experienced cyclist, and has used Shimano SPDs and Looks, and said that the Speedplays were the easiest.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by Cyclismette0703; 03-27-2012 at 05:59 PM.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    240
    I just moved to clipless also, and haven't fallen. YET.
    So, i have a stupid question for when I do have that inaugural fall. How do you unclip when you are laying in the middle of the street?? I'm serious! It seems like it would be very hard to unclip the foot that is on the pavement side, while you are laying down with a bike on top of you??

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Between FL & NC
    Posts
    179
    Quote Originally Posted by Penny4 View Post
    I just moved to clipless also, and haven't fallen. YET.
    So, i have a stupid question for when I do have that inaugural fall. How do you unclip when you are laying in the middle of the street?? I'm serious! It seems like it would be very hard to unclip the foot that is on the pavement side, while you are laying down with a bike on top of you??
    While on the street I clipped it out moving the heel to the side then I was able able to stand up and pick the bike from the floor. Not pretty!
    Mariela
    '12 Trek Lexa SLX

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Location
    Florida
    Posts
    462
    i've been using clipless pedals for two weeks, and though I had only one, painless, but embarrassing, very public fall on day two, I'm still afraid when in sections of town where there is the potential to have to stop frequently and/or suddenly. I have the two-sided SPD pedals, and have been keeping one foot unclipped only because I'm afraid. I'm fine on long stretches, but get really insecure in these areas, which only makes things worse. I'm hoping to get more comfortable, but so far, no dice. I'm just going to keep on trying.

 

 

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