Bike Ride: Maiden Voyage of the Clipless Pedals

I actually took this ride a while back (5/18/09), but it was memorable, so I figured I should give it a belated write-up.

11.4 miles;  47 minutes;  14.55mph;  hilly terrain

This was the first time I took my new (bought yesterday) Shimano pedals and shoesout for a ride from Rosslyn to East Falls Church and back along the Custis and W&OD trails (map; Arlington bike map). 

The new combo makes an amazing difference when climbing the relatively hilly sections along the Custis trail.  I pushed pretty hard on the way out (up) and was feeling pretty worn out on the way back when it happened again:  someone close to 3 times my age went flying past me.  I took this as a personal challenge to suck it up and try to match his pace, which ended up working out great.  I gained motivation to make good use of that new gear for the uphills, and I gained confidence in passing runners and other cyclists (after giving fair warning, of course).  If you’re still a little unsure of yourself on the trails or the road, I highly recommend following someone who looks like they know what they’re doing*, and paying attention to how they navigate the road (in addition to or conjunction with a good cycling class).

My downfall (almost literally) came as I returned to Rosslyn.  We stopped at a stoplight (one of only two that I had to stop for in the whole trip!), and as I proudly and skillfully unclipped shoes from pedals, the older gentleman struck up a conversation: 

“You’ve been with me since Falls Church, haven’t you?” 

 “Yes sir, thanks for keeping me honest on those hills; this is my first time doing this.”

 “Well keep it up, have a great day.” 

“You too!”

I was so pleased to get the slightest bit of recognition from a seasoned commuter/cyclist, that as he pulled away at the next stop light to head into D.C. and I stopped to turn off into Rosslyn… you guessed it.  I almost did exactly what the lady at Revolution Cycles warned me would happen at least once before I wised up:  I stopped my bike and began tipping to the side.  No problem, I’ll just put my foot down spazz out wildly until I remember that I’m locked onto this crazy contraption.  I managed to slide my left foot out at the last minute, but not without considerable pain to the inside of my thigh, a major misalignment of my seat post, and a good bit of embarrassment in front of all the traffic waiting to cross Key Bridge.  No permanent damage, but I was a split second from tumbling into the I-66 off-ramp.  Better luck next time…

*Make sure this person is not a suicidal bike messenger.

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1 Response to “Bike Ride: Maiden Voyage of the Clipless Pedals”



  1. 1 Bike Ride: Sort of « Go2Town Trackback on June 4, 2009 at 8:08 am

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