Cycling and bicycle discussion forums. 
   Click here to join our community Log in to access your Control Panel  

Go Back   > >

Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old 11-07-08, 03:41 PM   #1
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 223
Help me with toe clips...


This summer I hit the seven zero b'day.

I had been using a vigorous walking program, but in early
October I started developing plantar fasciitis and had to quit

I decided to give biking another shot, back in the early 70's
I commuted with a Schwinn Touring bike.

I bought a Specialized "Sequoia Elite".

I have been gradually increasing my distance each day for the last week.

Yesterday I decided to ride down to the Kentucky river, about 10 miles
from home. I remember to pack some water forgot to pack some food.

When I reached the river ( actually a ferry crossing ) I slowed down
preparing to stop.

I disengaged my left foot from the toe clip and was breaking to stop when
suddenly I started falling to the right and I could not get my right foot
out of the toe clip and and went down. My right shoulder took the brunt
of the fall, I had a small nick near my elbow and another near my knee
and (sob...) some scratches on my right brake/shifter mechanism.

I checked myself out and dusted off myself and the bike. I drank most
of the contents of the water bottle and walked around a bit.

I found that there was no cell service down in the valley ;(

After a bit I decided it was time to return home. I pointed the
bike in the right direction, threw my right leg over the bike and put
the right foot into the toe clip.

My intent was to stand into the pedal and take off... What happened
was that I found myself falling off to the right again. Of course my
foot could not be removed in time from the toe clip.

I hit the ground in exactly the same way and (sob, sob) the scratches
in the right brake/shifter handles developed deeper and more
numerous scratches in the same places.

After hurling a few choice invectives down the river valley I cleaned
myself and the bike off again.

After a few minutes I tried starting again *without* using toe clips.
The launch was successful and once I got going again I engaged the
toe clips and made it back home safely.

I am trying to understand what I was doing wrong and want to
prevent a re-occurrence of the disaster...

Any suggestions on safe toe-clip usage would be greatly appreciated.

Here are some of my thoughts:

1) I went too far too soon. When I arrived at the river I was fatigued and
my reaction time and situational awareness were impaired.

2) I suspect that I slowed to a stop I might have "steered" to the left causing
the bike to cant to the right and fall over.

3) I suspect that leg fatigue might have a lot to do with the second crash. In
the brief time I have been biking I have noticed that after a trip that going
up stairs immediately after a ride was difficult even though I did not feel
fatigued and was able to pedal without difficulty. If I could not lift my
body to stand on the pedal properly I could see that there could be problems.
On the other hand, perhaps I forgot to 'release' the brake ;(

I have been able to make slow u-turns using toe clips and I have been able
stop/start from traffic lights and stops signs without any problems.

The toe-clips that came with the bike a just a wee tad too short and made
of some kind of plastic...I find that pulling the pedal over and catching the
toe-clip to be difficult to do...I hope practice makes perfect. I keep the
clips fairly loose but my size 11 shoes are fairly thick.

I feel a bit gun shy at the current time...

Again any hints for survival are appreciated

yrrej is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 04:15 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Gaseous Cloud around Uranus
Posts: 3,676
Try to find some shoes that have smooth toes,no cleats around the side,it will help getting in and out the straps much easier.I like skateboarding shoes,but anything will work.

Are you left handed?I'm right handed and get on/off my bike from the left side.Left foot in the clip,pedal level with the street,push pedal down,swing leg over,flip right pedal up,away we go.If I tried getting on from the right,I think my whole right side would be a scab.(never actually tried that I can remember)

For me,I like the ball of my foot on the pedal,but my riding buddy has his feet deep in the pedal.I try to ride his bike and I can't,the arch of my foot is on the pedal,drives me crazy and he has smaller feet than I do.

You can always straddle the top tube after a long ride if you think being tired has anything to do with it.Keep at it,you'll get back into the swing of things.

Toe clips also come in different sizes if you want to change them down the road.Your pedals should have a little tit on the back side to help flip the pedal around,if it doesn't,it makes it much harder to get the thing to swing up.If it does have a tit,hit it with the ball of your foot,not your toe,then when the pedal swings up,you toe will go right in.

Last edited by Booger1; 11-07-08 at 04:24 PM.
Booger1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 04:30 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Sin City, Nevada
Bikes: Catrike 700, Greenspeed GTO trike, , Linear LWB recumbent, Haluzak Horizon SWB recumbent, Balance 450 MTB, Cannondale SM800 Beast of the East
Posts: 1,197
I have used Nashbar strapless toe clips on all of my recumbent bikes and trikes for years. They are inexpensive (ca $6 per set when on sale) fit ordinary shoes and boots (come in at least two sizes) and are very easy to get in and out of. They don't quite lock your feet to the pedals as much as regular toe clips but do the job when it comes to increasing efficiency and preventing foot suck on a trike.
VegasTriker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 04:34 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: Dec 2001
Posts: 4,866
Welcome to the 50+ forum, Jerry.

Perhaps you could temporarily remove the toe clips or try a cheap set of plain old flat pedals until you're completely comfortable with riding again.

Anyhow, I'm glad you didn't get hurt. Hang in there.
Louis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 04:38 PM   #5
Time for a change.
stapfam's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: 6 miles inland from the coast of Sussex, in the South East of England
Bikes: Dale MT2000. Bianchi FS920 Kona Explosif. Giant TCR C. Boreas Ignis. Pinarello Fp Uno.
Posts: 19,915
No pics but the wifes bike has a rigid half clip that just fits the toes. No straps but keeps the foot in place for pedalling.

Sorry to hear about the scratches but luckily nothing broken.
How long was I in the army? Five foot seven.

Spike Milligan
stapfam is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 05:44 PM   #6
Grumpy Old Bugga
europa's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Adelaide, AUSTRALIA
Bikes: Europa, Hillbrick, Road Chief, Repco Superlite (Ol' Rusty)
Posts: 3,327
Keep the straps really loose - you can even take the things off altogether. I don't bother to pull mine tight any more, it's only needed for riding so aggressive that you're better off with a clipless system.

To get a foot out of toe clips, you need to pull the foot backwards which, when you're falling, is not the natural thing to do. Practice will teach your legs this habit and after awhile you'll find it's automatic.

Read any thread about learning to ride with clipless systems and you'll realise that what's happened to you is pretty normal. With a clipless set up, you have to twist your foot to get it free and again, that's not natural so people have falls when learning.

Mate, sad as it is that you got banged up and scratched your bike, what you've experienced is common enough to be regarded as 'required'. Few of us have gone to clipless systems without falling over and although you're using toe clips, it's the same principal. You're not clumsy, you're NORMAL!

In the meantime though:
- make sure your shoes don't snag on the pedals/clips when trying to get out
- make sure your clips offer enough freedom to get out easily (shape, straps, etc)
- practice a lot and think about the action until it becomes automatic, which it will by the end of next week.

In the meantime, keep enjoying your riding. You've chosen a good bike and I reckon you'll do well

europa is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 07:13 PM   #7
Life is good
RonH's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Not far from the Withlacoochee Trail. 🚴🏻
Bikes: My beloved 2001 Litespeed Tuscany and my 2014 Cannondale SuperSix EVO Hi-Mod
Posts: 15,936
I'll be 64 next month. Here are the pedals I'd recommend. Very easy to clip in and out. Toe clips and straps are scary as hell.

And Jesus looking upon them saith, "With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." - Mark 10:27
RonH is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 07:58 PM   #8
The Weak Link
The Weak Link's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Post-partisan Paradise
Bikes: GF Wahoo '05, Trek T1000 '04, Lemond Buenos Aires '07
Posts: 4,938
Clipless only. When ever someone uses the old-fashioned clips, a kitten dies somewhere.

I'm guessing you live in either Frankfort or Carrolton.

If you go clipless and if you ever mountain bike, you must promise to Youtube a video of your first journey around Cap View. I crashed there about 12 times the first day I tried clipless. It was kind of fun.
The Weak Link is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 08:18 PM   #9
just keep riding
BluesDawg's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Milledgeville, Georgia
Bikes: 2015 Specialized AWOL Comp frameset (custom build), 2015 Zukas custom road, 2014 Specialized Crave Pro 29, 2003 KHS Milano Tandem, 1986 Nishiki Cadence rigid MTB, 1980ish Fuji S-12S
Posts: 13,192
I find that my foot/pedal engaging and disengaging skills can be very much dulled when I am tired. This happens whether I am riding with toe clips and straps or with clipless pedals. Try some of the good suggestions above or just take a little time to regain your focus, skills and confidence and get back on that horse.

BTW, if you choose to stick with toe clips, get some metal clips and leather straps. Not necessarily easier to use, but so much classier.

BluesDawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 08:22 PM   #10
Lurch's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Raleigh, NC
Bikes: Bianchi Bergamo, Raleigh Misceo
Posts: 330
I'm glad you survived to tell the tale. I prefer toeclips, but many people say they are dangerous. I like the idea of being able to wear various shoes rather than special biking shoes. A friend of mine had just begun riding again and was getting used to toe clips. As he slowed for a stop sign on a rural road, a car edged past him and stopped leaving my friend on the edge of the pavement and about even with the car's rear tire. There wasn't room between the car and bike to get a foot down so he reached out his arm to prop himself up against the car. He hit the car trunk lid harder than he meant to and made a loud noise which got the driver's attention. The impact also caused him to overbalance and he proceeded to fall over to the right and into the ditch. The car just drove away at this point. Friend didn't suffer any significant injuries except to his pride and confidence. It didn't stop him from continuing to ride, but he started paying more attention to lane position after that.
Lurch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 08:25 PM   #11
10 Wheels
Galveston County Texas
10 Wheels's Avatar
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: In The Wind
Bikes: 2010 Expedition, 03 GTO
Posts: 29,054
I moved my Toe Clips Off Center toward the outside of the pedal.
Gives me room to center my size 13 shoe on the pedal.
[SIZE=1][B]What I like about Texas[/B]

Set F1re To The Ra1n ( NY Night Rain Ride)

Last edited by 10 Wheels; 11-07-08 at 08:28 PM.
10 Wheels is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-07-08, 09:12 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Gaseous Cloud around Uranus
Posts: 3,676
The leather strap suggestion is also very good.The sides stay open better than the nylon straps.
Booger1 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-08, 11:13 AM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 1,228
Originally Posted by Booger1 View Post
The leather strap suggestion is also very good.The sides stay open better than the nylon straps.
I went one better than this - I use leather and then cut the straps. The inboard side is now secure, but the outboard side I fold over the end and wedge it in the hole so if I pull, they pop out. Kind of a quick-release. Works great, although I always ride with my straps loose...I never have pulled them tight like racers do.
sciencemonster is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-08, 01:12 PM   #14
Retro Grouch 
Senior Member
Retro Grouch's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: St Peters, Missouri
Bikes: Rans Rockst (Retro rocket) Rans Enduro Sport (Retro racket) Catrike 559, Merin Bear Valley (beater bike).
Posts: 26,387
Are you lucky!

First of all, and most important, I'm proud to be the one to welcome you into Club Tombay. You are now entitled to all of the benefits and privileges of membership. Many long time 50+ posters, like bombadil and the deege, for example, have yet to earn that distinction. I kind of feel sorry for them but we have standards to maintain.

I suspect that both falls were at least parrtly attributable to fatigue. I know that back when I was having trouble unclipping my clipless pedals, I always did fine when fresh - not so fine when not. Once you start to go, panic sets in and that's usually the ball game.

I think that the other posters have provided a range of possible ideas. The trick is to find the right balance (no pun intended) between keeping your feet in contact with the pedals when that's what you want and releasing them when necessary.
Retro Grouch is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-08, 01:24 PM   #15
Can't Re Member
Nerdanel's Avatar
Join Date: May 2008
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Bikes: 2009 Randonee, 2014 Bike Friday NWT
Posts: 363
When you are tired your balance gets wonky before you realize it. Try straddling the bike with both feet on the ground before you get on the pedals. Sheldon Brown on starting and stopping.
I use Power Grips on my pedals. They can be as tricky as toe clips to get into but are much easier to get out of without thinking about it.

Congratulations on surviving 2 falls in one day unscathed!
Inside of a dog it's too dark to read.

Last edited by Nerdanel; 11-08-08 at 01:27 PM. Reason: weird linkage
Nerdanel is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-08, 01:40 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Madison, WI
Bikes: 1975 Coppi Campionissimo, 1980 Raleigh Grand Sport, 1983 Trek 520, 1983 Ciocc, 1995 Trek 520
Posts: 212
Jerry, sorry to hear about your accidents. I second the idea of just riding on flat pedals until you're over the (very natural) fear of riding. I also think that loose leather straps might work well.

About the plantar fasciitis--PM me if you want some suggestions on getting over this. I've had it five times since I was 23, and I'm only 46. The last time I had it, I figured out some foot strengthening exercises that got me over the PF in record time.

Good luck!
Galoot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-08-08, 02:43 PM   #17
Senior Member
tntyz's Avatar
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Nabob, WI
Bikes: '03 Trek 7500, '08 Madone 4.5
Posts: 1,176
Keep the straps loose. There's really no reason to cinch your foot into place. Toe clips (and clipless) take some getting used to, but really are great once you get the hang of it.

Go ahead and start out on the flat side of the pedal. Practice flipping the pedal around when you've got your balance and then slip into the clips.

Get out of the clips early when you're coming up on a stop. Practice getting out with either foot first and get both feet out earlier than you think you have to. Be safe and don't worry about speed.

Knock on wood, I've never had a fall. Came close this summer when I switched to clipless and it was a dreadful, helpless feeling.

BTW, great to hear you're just getting back into biking! Good luck with the plantar fasciitis. I had a bout with it a few years back which I eventually traced to my shoes. They were those slip-on funky-looking backless jobs. As soon as I got rid of them my problems went away. Very painful while healing, though.
tntyz is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-08, 04:28 PM   #18
Senior Member
zonatandem's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Tucson, AZ
Bikes: Custom Zona c/f tandem + Scott Plasma single
Posts: 10,783
Good suggestions: Half-clips (no strap); PowerGrips (no toeclip); do not tighten straps unless racing.
Am a bit older than 70 and tried clipless (expensive pedals, expensive shoes/cleats); back to toeclips, they work just fine.
zonatandem is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-08, 05:55 PM   #19
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 223
Thanks for the hints folks...

I climbed back on the bike yesterday for a short ride, it was
cold and windy in Richmond Ky.

I felt pretty good and my previous days fears seem to
fade away...

My shoulder is feeling much better today

I don't think I am ready for clip type pedals yet... the lbs owner
said if I wanted to try them, that I could use one of his
trainers for practice... perhaps when spring rolls around.

I have been crusin' local shoe stores looking for some type
of shoe that might be a bit more suitable for pedaling than
my current set of shoes...Merrells have an extra large toe box
that make getting into the toe clips a bit more tricky, my
walking/running sneakers are humongous and my Rockport
walking shoes are a bit too thick.

I even went by the bowling alley and checked out some
bowling shoes but the soles were too thin and there
was no internal support to speak of...

Any shoe recommendations?

The current pedal/toe-clips seem a bit too small and the quality
does not seem to be in line with the rest of the bike.

Any suggestions as to pedal and (metal) toe clips ?


yrrej is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-08, 06:07 PM   #20
Old Fogy
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Murray, Utah
Posts: 1,224
I know two people who swear their plantar fasciitis was cured by Merrel boots.
Now, if someone would tell me how to cure a neuroma.
waldowales is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-08, 08:05 PM   #21
just keep riding
BluesDawg's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Milledgeville, Georgia
Bikes: 2015 Specialized AWOL Comp frameset (custom build), 2015 Zukas custom road, 2014 Specialized Crave Pro 29, 2003 KHS Milano Tandem, 1986 Nishiki Cadence rigid MTB, 1980ish Fuji S-12S
Posts: 13,192
Originally Posted by yrrej View Post
Any suggestions as to pedal and (metal) toe clips ?


BluesDawg is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-09-08, 09:18 PM   #22
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 158
For me the whole thing with toe clips is to always follow the same routine:

Getting on the bike: I approach from the curb (right) side, and swing my left foot over to the pedal, which is in the bottom position. I first wiggle that left foot into the clip before even starting.

Then I pedal slowly, using the "underside" of the right pedal until it's convenient to flip my foot into the clip. Since 99% of my moving clip-ins are with the right foot, it gets lots of practice and has become very easy.

When anticipating a stop: I know I will stop by putting my right foot down (curb side), leaving my left foot clipped in. Therefore I prearrange things: my left foot is in the bottom position (because it's too much stress on the knee otherwise). My bike leans a little toward the right. I pull the right foot out before the stop, then it's easy to just put the foot down.

So: the left foot stays clipped in most of the time; I lean towards the right when stopping and put the right foot down. Only time I've had trouble was if some jerkwad forced me into an emergency stop.
Sportsman9 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-08, 08:20 PM   #23
Junior Member
hrstrat57's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: RI
Bikes: Roubaix Elite 2005 Ultegra/105 mix, Bianchi Giro 80's columbus frame full Campy Chorus
Posts: 18
mks sylvan

I posted this elsewhere last night.....I use MKS Sylvan track pedals(campy copies) and usually Adidas Samba sneakers on my steel Bianchi which is now my rain set up....

I have M540 shimano mtb pedals and Shimano mtn bike shoes for my carbon bike....

Both are effortless to get in and out of.....

I bought this exact MKS rig from this ebay seller, I have a sz 9 shoe and bought the size large toe clip setup.

Pricey but fantastic!!!

From the other thread

I wanna seven

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: RI

Here is the exact set up I have on my old celeste beast, I am a sz 9 shoe....solid set up IMHO. Neil O. Murphy Bicycle(ebay nomco) is the seller.
hrstrat57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-08, 08:27 PM   #24
Junior Member
hrstrat57's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: RI
Bikes: Roubaix Elite 2005 Ultegra/105 mix, Bianchi Giro 80's columbus frame full Campy Chorus
Posts: 18
Sorry, let's try that link again....Seller is eBay Store The Neil O Murphy Bicycle Company (NOMCO) You will have no trouble exiting these.....make sure you use a smooth sole shoe like my Sambas....
hrstrat57 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-11-08, 09:31 PM   #25
Sputnik - beep beep beep
Wake's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Louisville KY
Bikes: '12 Jamis Coda Elite '09 Jamis Sputnik, '07 Jamis Eclipse, '13 Brompton M6R.
Posts: 481
Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
...either Frankfort or Carrolton.
My vote is for Frankfort because he mentioned shoe stores

Riding down to the river is a risky venture in either place, no?

Last time I was close to the Ky River it was in Lockport.
Wake is offline   Reply With Quote

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 11:10 AM.