The culmination of a three-part series on my clipless pedals/shoes buying experience…it was just too much info for one post!
Last week, as you might have read here, was one of those weeks where biking just didn’t work out. When I did finally have some time over the weekend, I ended up trying to move from one air-conditioned space to another, avoiding the pollen floating around in the air.
Meanwhile, Erik The Bikeman has had my shoes and clipless pedals waiting for me to head over, pick ‘em up and get ‘em installed. For those of you who don’t remember, my Grandpa gave me my choice of pedals and shoes for my birthday. I had ordered everything almost 3 weeks ago…but just as the shoes came in, Erik’s started up their summer sale…and while I appreciate the prices during their sales events, the service is lackluster due to the large quantity of people vying for the attention of the salespeople. I wanted to have a nice relaxed time getting the pedals installed, getting the most out of the wonderful service Dave B. at the Eden Prairie location usually provides. I’ve never had clipless pedals before…I knew I’d need as much help as I could get!
So, tonight was the night. Tomorrow and Wednesday I’m busy with non-biking activities, and Thursday I’m supposed to pick up a ride with Kate. Biking over after work, get the pedals installed, absorb the training and tips Dave would offer and then take a nice ride back home to get used to it before Thursday.
I looked up Erik’s website this morning to get their phone number, thinking it would be wise to make sure Dave was working this evening. Splashed across the front page is a big notice, reminding the website viewers that the sale had been extended and the last day was TODAY! Ugh! Last day of a sale? Are you kidding?
I place a call to Dave anyway. He explains the weekend was kinda slow, he doubted the place would be all that busy this evening. I told him I’d be in after work. Things would work out. Yay! Now if I could just stay hydrated on my way over in the 90+-degree heat and high humidity.
I set out after work. The great thing biking over to Erik’s from work is that you’ve got off-street paths all the way there. The driveway at work is right off of Valley View Road, which has a path running over to the SWLRT path, which eventually winds its way right past Erik’s. A nice, leisurely ride was in order, considering the temperature.
The entire ride I relished finally getting my new shoes and pedals. I’ve heard so many great things about clipless pedals. Increased comfort while riding, better pedaling efficiency and a better workout. Sure, there’s that whole idea that you could fall and “go down with the ship” so to speak. I’ve fallen twice in the 2.5 years I’ve been biking on a regular basis…once to avoid what I thought was an inevitable collision and once because of muddy sand I swerved to avoid at the last second only to end up in muddy grass instead. The whole falling idea wasn’t really a concern of mine. Gimme my pedals!
I arrived and things were calm. A few people in browsing the sale tables, but Dave waved me into the shop area and went back to get my shoes. I tried them on, and other than a little bit of slippage in the heel, they felt great. After adjusting the velcro straps, I settled into the fit and Dave retreated behind the shop counter to install the pedals.
As I waited for Dave to return, more and more people showed up. By the time he returned with my bike, there were 20+ people in the store. He still took the time to explain to me the mechanism, helped me practice clipping and unclipping then set me loose in the parking lot. My one worry about switching to the fixed-mount cleated bike shoes/clipless pedals was that my Arkel pannier was going to interfere with my pedaling. After a few spins around the lot I realized that my fear was unfounded…the angle at which I rode had changed so much with the stiffer biking shoes that I had to pedal rather awkwardly in order to brush against the bag. Yay! I picked up another set of new gloves (hey, why pass up a sale when I know how happy I am with the new gloves I picked up prior to my 50-mile ride?), loaded up the bike and headed back out.
I rolled back to the SWLRT trail and did another 12 miles, stopping only at work to pick up some water. The new pedaling system (can it really be called a system? hrm…my ex-coworker Greg would be shaking his head right now) made it so much easier to ride. I could use muscles I didn’t even know I had to pedal throughout the rotation, which meant I could stay in my lower gears more and quicken my pace a little. ‘course, upon my arrival at home I fought some cramping that only went away with some intense stretching…doubtlessly I used something that hadn’t been used much previously! Stopping at intersections and stoplights wasn’t too much of a big deal, either…usually there is something you can find to lean against. Releasing from the pedals, when necessary, isn’t a big deal either. Getting back in the clips proves to be a bit more of a challenge…but I’m sure that will come with time.
I’m only 12 miles into the experience, but as of right now, I’d definitely give my new pedaling system big thumbs up. We’ll see how Thursday goes…unless I get so eager to give them another go-round that I go for a night-ride after the festivities either of the next two nights.