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New to Road Biking and Clipless - Help!

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

New to Road Biking and Clipless - Help!

Old 10-22-08, 04:37 PM
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batwings
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New to Road Biking and Clipless - Help!

Been at road biking for only about two months. Loving it so far. Added some clipless pedals recently. Everything was going fine until today, I had my first tipover. What fun that was! A very proud moment as I pick myself up, finished swearing a bit then noticed a nice old man on the corner looking at me with a puzzled look. I'm sure he was saying to himself something like, "You idiot! Try putting your foot down next time."

I'm having some trouble starting from a complete stop when there is an incline. Occassionally, I can't get my second foot clipped in fast enough to help continue my momentum. Will I just get better with time or are there any tricks the experts here can share?

By the way, a simple tipover hurts a bit more than expected (I'm a 215 pounder so I came down a bit hard). I did continue my ride with a bloody ankle and forearm.
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Old 10-22-08, 04:43 PM
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Just put your unclipped foot down on the pedal and push anyway. If that alone doesn't get you clipped in, wait until you're moving quickly enough to pause and get that cleat in.
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Old 10-22-08, 04:46 PM
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Find a bike empty parking lot (like an elementary school or corporate office park on a weekend) and practice clipping in and out.
Also practice pedalling with one foot so you can get going without clipping in the second foot.
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Old 10-22-08, 04:46 PM
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For staring up inclines, try doing 1-leg drills on the flat/ inside on the trainer/rollers. Spin using only 1 leg. Also, you can rest the non-clip in shoe on the pedal, just don't push down too hard with it. Once you get some speed, then you can clip in. If I don't get clipped in within 3 seconds of starting, I just spin using 1 leg until I get some speed and then clip in.

Hope this helps. Enjoy the sport.
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Old 10-22-08, 04:46 PM
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Instead of worrying about clipping in, just pedal without worrying about it until it's safe and you have enough speed built up to clip in.

Depending on the pedals and shoes, there should be some place where you can put your foot on the pedal without it slipping off. Either use the rubber part on the heel, or the middle part of the shoe.

Don't press very hard, and just take your time. Don't worry about clipping in immediately, it's not important.

You can also pedal with the clipped in leg for a little while. It also helps to be in a strong enough gear that you're mashing a bit instead of trying to spin while getting clipped in.

And it will also get easier with time. But this tricks can help.
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Old 10-22-08, 04:49 PM
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I've single-legged my way through intersections more times than I can count. And then there are days I get in so fast it's just cool. Keep practicing, and getting a feel for where the pedal is without looking.

What pedals do you have?
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Old 10-22-08, 04:55 PM
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Yes, some pedals are much easier to get in and out of than others. Double-sided mountain bike pedals are designed to click in on your first try without looking, and also to click out of very quickly.
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Old 10-22-08, 05:05 PM
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I second the comments made here about learning how to just use one leg to pedal. Also, if you are having the most troubles in an uphill start, try and start out with a lower gear before you clip in. That at least will give you a bit more breathing room to get clipped in.
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Old 10-22-08, 05:07 PM
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On an incline, use the middle of your foot and pull complete circles with your clipped in one.

Don't stop pedalling and look down. You'd be surprised how many experienced riders still do that.
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Old 10-22-08, 05:32 PM
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You can adjust the tension on the pedals, nearly all pedals anyway. Reduce the tension to make clipping in a bit easier. You do not need to clip in both feet immediately. Depending on the pedals...cleat size, etc...you can just place your foot on the pedal and pedal a few strokes until you build some momentum then clip in. Also important to relax a bit. The more stressed you are about clipping in seems to always make it more difficult.
It is a matter of repetitive action to make it second nature.
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Old 10-22-08, 05:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Kai Winters View Post
You can adjust the tension on the pedals, nearly all pedals anyway.
There is no tension adjustment for Speedplay or Crank Brothers, to name a few.
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Old 10-22-08, 06:24 PM
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Clipping in is a matter of practice and getting a good feel for your pedals. I've been using clipless now for 4-5 yrs and still have occasional times in my basic Shimano mountain pedals that I don't get clipped in. I make it a habit, when at stop lights or others stops, to downshift to a gear I know I can start in. My LBS recommended practicing on the grass somewhere, but that of course isn't so easy if you're on a road bike. Empty parking lots can be great for road bikes.
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Old 10-22-08, 06:39 PM
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Thanks for all the tips/comments. What you say makes a lot of sense and I can't believe I didn't just do some of it naturally. I'll work on the single leg pedalling.

The pedals I got are Look Keo Classics. I really like them alot except for today's incident.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-22-08, 06:51 PM
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1) OP - Why are you stopping/starting on an incline?

2) Push off, when safe, across the fall line of a hill - no more hill.

3) Lose some weight.
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Old 10-22-08, 06:57 PM
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Look pedals are harder to clip in to than some others. However, with some practice, you should be able to learn to clip in to them quickly and without looking. Some people can swing the crank with their other foot, so that the pedal flips over by itself and you can clip in quickly. Other people use their toe to level the pedal. At busy intersections, you should be watching the road and not studying your pedals. If for some reason you cannot clip in immediately, then try pedalling one-footed or with one foot on the bottom of the pedal until you cross the intersection and the road is hopefully safer.
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