Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Jersey - outside the bibs.
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Similar situation to yours, just a little younger. Started mtn bike a few years ago with toe clips and got used to them. When I got road bike last fall, it felt like I was riding a razor blade - big fear factor. Extrememly hard, narrow tires, integrated shifters, fidgety toe clips. Rode by myself first few times to get comfortable. On first club ride, forgot to unclip soon enough at a stop and fell on my side - no biggie - just make sure you're wearing a helmet and absorb ground with whole body (scrapes & bruises), not just an outstretched arm (broken bones).
In 700 mi, that's the only fall I've taken. I would feel extremely unsafe without clip-in peddles.
Ride on your own to get comfortable, and then hook-up with a club in your area. Clubs - and the people in them - are great. Most of the bike clubs are recreational and composed of adults 35-80. Riding this winter in Central NJ has been great. Most weekends, roads clear. Just need to dress appropriately. Beats the heck out of riding the trainer. Good luck.