Removing The Training Wheels…

Clipless pedals terrify me.

Your feet are locked to the pedals. If you stop without unclipping and you fall…without your legs available to break your fall.

Clipless pedals also allow you to use your leg muscles through the entire rotation of the pedal instead of just when pushing down with your leg. They use different muscles, so your legs don’t get as tired as quickly. They also allow you cycle faster.

Just like when you remove your training wheels when you were 5…

I have completed 4 century rides, 8 triathlons (including 4 Half-Ironmans) with flat platform pedals. I did this because I had an ankle injury, and I could not twist my ankle to unclip. I would fall over every time I stopped.

But, I also was terrified to try them.

Now, the ankle is better.

I have an Ironman coming up.

Learning this skill would make me more successful in the bike portion of the Ironman (my weakest discipline).

It was time to take off the training wheels.

I stalled all day yesterday. Finally, I ran out of chores. So, I grabbed my wrench and swapped the pedals out.

I had used the clipless all winter on the bike trainer…no problem. Of course, the bike is being held upright on the trainer and you can’t fall. Not so here.


I almost fell over clipping in just one foot. Whole center of gravity changes when you have a bike attached to the end of your leg. Tried again…success. Well, if you call clipping one foot in a success.

Pulled the foot up and pushed down. I was moving.

Got to the end of the driveway and turned onto my traffic-free road. Fiddled with the other foot and got it clipped-in.

My feet were locked. I was terrified. I calmly tried to unclip. Success. Clip. Unclip. Clip. Unclip. Stop. Didn’t fall. Cool…

This went on. Pedaled. Multiple clip/unclip. Start/stop. Went 2 miles and didn’t fall.

OK. That’s the training run. Next day was the real deal…long bike ride. I would bring the old pedals and the wrench…just in case…

Got to Elm Creek this morning. I can do this. Pedaled around the parking lot a few times. Still had the hang of it. Clip. Unclip. Stop.

OK, time to fly. Ninety miles…

Went OK. Only fell once. Was coming to a stop, unclip the right foot. Stopped. Put the foot down. Had too much weight on the other pedal and went over. Only injured my pride. But it took me 20 more miles to regain my confidence.

By the end, I was feeling OK. No more falls. Had more control.

And, no more training wheels.

Now, if I could just learn how to use the aerobars…


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