Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Clipless Training

Last night my 14 year old son and I went for a short ride. Since Jenny had already done her training ride for the day with our other son her bike was available so my son opted to take her road bike over his mountain bike. Jenny and our son are roughly the same size so this worked out perfectly.

When we got to the trail I realized that he had never ridden a road bike and to add to the complexity he hadn't ever used clipless pedals either. Although it could have been entertaining to watch him slowly fall over while struggling to get out of his pedals at the first stop I decided that he at least needed to know how to get out of his pedals before the slow fall to the ground occurred.

So before we headed out I gave my son the grand tour of a road bike including how to use the index shifters, where to put your hands on the hoods, and especially how to get out of the clipless pedals. We practiced a number of times with the clipless pedals before we pushed off just for good measure and then we were off.

I think he liked the speed of a road bike over a full suspension mountain bike but it was obvious that road bikes aren't nearly as stable as mountain bikes because at first he was all over the trail until he got used to Jenny's bike. Everything was going smoothly until we approached our first stop. I reminded him with plenty of time so he could struggle his way out of the pedals which he did but when he came to a stop he was still sitting on the seat so he toppled over until his feet hit the ground and he could catch himself. He didn't actually fall over but it wasn't the most graceful stop I've ever seen. I'm not sure how he stops on his mountain bike but I'm sure it wasn't anything like that.

It never occurred to me that there is a whole process of stopping on a road bike that might be different than what he was used to. So for the next couple minutes I showed him the process of stopping on a road bike.
1. Unclip from your pedals
2. Stand on your pedals while moving forward out of your seat
3. Apply the breaks until you come to a stop
4. Put one foot down.
5. Breath a sigh of relief
As we rode along we had a great time and he really liked the speed that a road bike could generate. Every stop was still an adventure but he was a good sport about it and he even liked the chain marks he got on his leg from the flailing around.

In the end we ended up riding 15 miles and he was never inducted into the clipless pedal club. If you're not familiar with this club you automatically become a member the first time you come to a stop and forget to unclip from your pedals thus toppling over at a slow rate while your eyes widen and your feet struggle to get loose. I became a member years ago but haven't been to a club meeting for quite some time.

I'm sure my son's club membership is coming but at least he wasn't inducted last night. I have to add of all of our kids he is the one who is the most theatrical so he loved the fact that his cycling shoes made a clicking sound as he walked. I've always been embarrassed by that sound but he loved the fact that cycling shoes could almost double as tap shoes. Kind of makes me shake my head. I hope we have plenty of rides in our future and years from now he will remember that I took it easy on him last night and he will return the favor when way faster than me.


Jayson said...

I'm a proud member. First time I took a clipless bike out, I forget to unclip at my first stop sign and fell over. to add insult to injury (well just my injured pride) a lady in a car stopped to see if I was ok.

no one ever tells you how hard it is to unclip when you're laying on the ground!

Linda said...

I haven't had clipless pedals yet or ever used them.

However, I can recall several times way back when I had my cycling shoes strapped tightly into my pedals and for one reason or another, forgot to loosen the strap to ease my foot out at a stop.

The result of lying on your back while trying to reach the pedals to loosen the strap closely resembles a turtle on its back trying to get some leverage to right itself. I'm sure I provided quite a few laughs for passersby in cars.

But I'm sure my day is coming eventually for the clipless turtle dance.

Jon said...

I usually do a little impromptu tap dance at least once every time I wear cliples pedals. It just seems like the thing to do...

Di said...

So glad he didn't fall... I on the other hand did the other day.. read my latest post... does anyone else have a favored foot to unclip?

Jenny-Jenny said...

He had a blast. I hope you two will have a lot of these times.

Buttsy said...

Excellent and I think if he continues to love riding a oad bike that is good news for you, perhaps bad news for your wallet....but makes a great training partner.....I am a member of the clipless pedal club and have reneewed my membership a few times (not for a long time now though) tops of hills - that is what caught me

jeff said...

Definitely a member of the club. And yes, Di, I almost always unclip my left foot. Sometimes I do my right just to make sure I can.

Big Oak said...

It's great to spend time with your son at an activity both of you like. Keep it up. It's good for you, falls and all.

Ben said...

I've not yet managed to become a club member, but I know it's only a matter of time. Lots of close calls, to the point of hilarity, but the toppling over has not yet happened with clipless, yet it HAS once with toe clips.

Also awesome on your son, looks like he's having a blast! I need to work more with my kids to get 'em into it. On mountain bikes. No clipless. Dropping Dad isn't allowed..