Monday, May 15, 2006

New Clipless Pedals and "The Incident with the Intersection"

I am so used to eggbeaters. I love them. I have a set (or, at least some type of Crank Brothers pedal) on each of my bikes. They are super easy to clip into. (This, by the way, is called foreshadowing).

Due to a fit issue (they were too large for him), I'm lucky enough to be riding the pedals/shoes James got from Shimano to review. These shoes are very stiff. The pedal engagement is solid, but I can get out of them just fine--though I haven't had to in a real-world panic situation yet.

My only frustration is trying to get _in_ them. There's no stomp-down-on-the-pedal-until-it-clicks with these. No, the pedal has to be lined up right. Even then, it is toe-in followed by heel-down to engage. (Most of you, no doubt, think me silly for even explaining what, quite possibly, is the oldest and most fundamental system for clipless pedals. Feel free to mock, but at least wait until you read the rest. There's more fuel below.)

Allow me to present the situation, as the events unfolded:

A cyclist is stopped at a stop light. He appears to be adjusting his over-stuffed messenger bag. Both feet are disengaged from the pedals and planted firmly--or as firmly as possible on road shoes with big cleats attached--on the ground. It looks as if he believes he has all day for the light to change. He doesn't. It is green.

With confidence, he puts a foot on a pedal to start pedaling, only to realize he's got these new shoes and new pedals. He decides to just lightly place the center of his shoe on the pedal and soft-pedal it across the intersection. He, however, is used to mountain bike shoes.

In fact, this cyclist never saw the need to own a pair of road shoes. He has nice, expensive, stiff mountain shoes. What's the point in road shoes, really? He now is thinking this with much more fervor.

His road shoes have fancy shiny carbon fiber soles. They are smooth. Trying to just "stick [his] foot on the pedals and ease across the intersection" isn't a good idea. They are like "ice on ice". His foot slips. He almost has a painful encounter with his top-tube. He looks down to the pedal to get the cleat in--clearly realizing that he won't be able to just make it across un-attached. The pedal is not front-up, which happens to be the only position in which these cleats can engage in these pedals.

He tries to flip it over. He tries to get a foot in. He slips again.

"It is quite a funny site to see, really." So says one passing motorist. "That is some bike this guy has. Though, I'd trade it in for a bike I could ride all the way across the intersection. He's looking pretty mad now. It's a good thing my windows aren't down or he'd hear me laughing and probably get even more angry.

"Is he ... okay? I mean is he, you know, special?"

A few more tires. There he goes. The cyclist has one foot in. He's trying to make it through with just the right foot clipped in. He isn't even attempting the other side. His left foot is just wildly flailing in the air while the right does all the work.

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