Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Recovering from my first day using clipless pedals

Notices
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

Recovering from my first day using clipless pedals

Old 07-08-12, 08:36 PM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Recovering from my first day using clipless pedals

I broke down and bought clipless pedals and shoes Friday after work, and installed the pedals that night. I set my bike up on a stationary trainer and pedaled for a while, practicing clipping in and out, and it seemed pretty easy (although I realized that being locked in place it wasn't a very good test.)

On Saturday I decided to take them out on the Erie Canal Path, which is a MUP. I figured that the MUP has no cars on it, and no stoplights, and a lot of the trail is crushed gravel and not blacktop; that it would be better than the street since I figured that I definitely was going to fall at least once.

Well, spot on about that one. About 8 miles out, the path crosses the road and it's not clear which direction it takes. So I hesitated, then saw a car, and next thing I remember I hit the asphalt like a bag of stones. I jammed both knees into the road, my left arm twisted and my elbow jammed into my ribs, and I scraped my right thumb. The guy in the car asked if I was ok, which was very nice of him. An old man was watering some flowers and let me have some water to wash off the blood.

I had a big egg on my knee, but I was ok to pedal back to my car, although I could barely walk last night. Luckily my leg was much better today, although my ribs hurt quite a bit still. But hey, it could have been worse...I could have seriously damaged my bike!

So today I figured enough for trying to get used to the clips on the road, which the gnarly, nasty, hard, blacktop, and took my bike out to a baseball field behind my condo. I brought with me my knee, elbow, and hand pads/guard that I had from my rollerblading days. I was quite the site! Slowly tooling around the baseball field, clipping and unclipping my shoes for about 45 minutes.

I realized that the problem I had yesterday was that I hit the brakes suddenly, the bike started to drop, I instinctively reacted by yanking my foot up, it wouldn't come out, I panicked, and then whack! So I practiced going around the diamond several times, jamming on the brakes. I only fell twice at the very beginning.

Then after dark I set up my bike in my hallway between a door and practiced losing my balance and falling then unclipping. I also readjusted the tension in the pedals to be looser. I think that the LBS had set it too tight, but it's my fault for not checking it thoroughly enough.

So my lesson learned (or lesion learned, if you like) is: practice, practice, practice someplace safe at first, and keep the tension loose until you are comfortable with them. And definitely don't take them out on the pavement before doing those things!
danmc is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 08:55 PM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
ARPRINCE's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: 38° 53' 51.635" N 77° 2' 11.507" W
Posts: 863

Bikes: 2021 Tern Verge X11 + Cannondale 2016 CAAD12 eTap + 2011 Synapse Alloy 5 Ultegra

Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Liked 24 Times in 16 Posts
Your story reminds me when I first got an automatic transmission. Since I was so used to having my left foot press on the clutch, I found myself using it to press on the brakes. Good thing I never had an accident. What I did was I tied my left foot on the base of the seat so that I don't use it to press on the brakes. I got used to it in no time at all. Then again, you're story also reminds me of ALLEN IVERSON..."Practice?"
ARPRINCE is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:10 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 593

Bikes: 2012 Specialized Crux, Schwinn Mesa

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6 Post(s)
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Glad to hear your ok. Yea I am only about 3 months into using my clipless so I am a noob too. So far I havent fallen but I had about 4 close calls and one major scare. The major scare was that I was in traffic at a green light waiting to make a left turn and I my right foot unclipped and the left clipped, something happened and while standing there my weight shifted. Next thing I know I am going down and somehow I managed to unclip my left foot just in time to keep upright otherwise I probably would have been hit by oncomming traffic.
Mondo734 is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:12 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
pgjackson's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Gulf Breeze, FL
Posts: 4,128

Bikes: Rossetti Vertigo

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 229 Post(s)
Liked 119 Times in 70 Posts
The key is recognize that you are going to fall and quickly get prepared. Don't stick anything out to break your fall. That is how you will smash our knees and break an arm. Just go with it. If done properly, your thighs should hit first then you kind of roll up your body. It's a technique I learned in martial arts...but it works. Yes, it will hurt, but not as much as if you tried to break your fall with your arm and ended up breaking it or dislocating an elbow.
pgjackson is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:20 PM
  #5  
Treble Member
 
manutd's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 568

Bikes: '07 Cervelo P2C, '12 Specialized Roubaix SL3 Expert, 2011 Specialized TriCross Comp.

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by danmc


So today I figured enough for trying to get used to the clips on the road, which the gnarly, nasty, hard, blacktop, and took my bike out to a baseball field behind my condo. I brought with me my knee, elbow, and hand pads/guard that I had from my rollerblading days. I was quite the site! Slowly tooling around the baseball field, clipping and unclipping my shoes for about 45 minutes.

I can only imagine what a sight this was!

I've fallen 2x I can remember because of my clip less pedals....once in my driveway and once when I thought a car was going to turn right at a stop so I started to follow behind and then they didn't go so I had to jam on the brakes and rolled down a ditch....lucky the grass was soft enough!
manutd is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:29 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
A couple of people were out walking their dogs, but I think that they couldn't care less what I was doing. There are plenty of freaks in our city, so a guy riding around outfitted like Mad Max doesn't really stand out.
danmc is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:32 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Mondo734
Glad to hear your ok. Yea I am only about 3 months into using my clipless so I am a noob too. So far I havent fallen but I had about 4 close calls and one major scare. The major scare was that I was in traffic at a green light waiting to make a left turn and I my right foot unclipped and the left clipped, something happened and while standing there my weight shifted. Next thing I know I am going down and somehow I managed to unclip my left foot just in time to keep upright otherwise I probably would have been hit by oncomming traffic.
I already have PTSD from my fall, don't scare me any more!
danmc is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:41 PM
  #8  
Two-Wheeled Aficionado
 
ColinL's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Wichita
Posts: 4,903

Bikes: Santa Cruz Blur TR, Cannondale Quick CX dropbar conversion & others

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
OP, I am really surprised you have fallen this much. What sort of pedals do you have? Maybe you need to get on the trainer and just practice clipping out *a lot*, but I'm wondering if you have chosen a pedal that is too hard to exit for you, and you need a different one that is easier to unclip. You could also have the tension too high, if it's a Shimano SPD.
ColinL is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 09:54 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 14,277
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 3 Times in 3 Posts
I practiced unclipping and clipping in while leaning against a tree. The next day I rode to work and had one brief panic when the bike leaned the opposite direction than I had unclipped. I did not have my clipless fall for a few months afterward when I was goofing around while overly confident.
DataJunkie is offline  
Old 07-08-12, 10:06 PM
  #10  
Senior Member
 
bike56's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: MS
Posts: 198

Bikes: Trek 1200 Felt F3

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ColinL
OP, I am really surprised you have fallen this much. What sort of pedals do you have? Maybe you need to get on the trainer and just practice clipping out *a lot*, but I'm wondering if you have chosen a pedal that is too hard to exit for you, and you need a different one that is easier to unclip. You could also have the tension too high, if it's a Shimano SPD.
+1 something sounds wrong,I have mine set to unclip very easy
bike56 is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 02:17 AM
  #11  
blah blah blah
 
milkbaby's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,520
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Unclipping is one of those things you just get better at the more you do it. Keep it up and enjoy the ride!
milkbaby is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 03:24 AM
  #12  
NYC TO SOCAL
 
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: SOCAL
Posts: 14

Bikes: RAGATZ CUSTOM BUILD

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Been there done that and it's quite embarrasing but practice will make perfect. I myself am still learning but I still have to think and unclip before I stop but if I had to stop on a dime I'm not sure I'll forget to unlip and maybe fall. When I do get on the bike I circle around for a bit and clip and unclip before my ride just to get that thought in my mind.
ED 718 is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 04:04 AM
  #13  
No longer just a beginner
 
diverguy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Auburndale, FL
Posts: 444

Bikes: Cannondale Synapse 5

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Sounds painful to both your body and your pride but practicing will help. Good idea to loosen the tension on the pedals, too. You'll get better at it. But there's a good chance you'll fall again someday. I've been riding clipless for years and, yesterday, I fell while standing still at a stoplight. Had unclipped with the right but not the left. Waiting for a green light. Decided to shift my bike over a little and lost balance. Let my thigh take the initial impact and then rolled with it. Nothing hurt... although I needed to shove a few dollars in the swear jar afterward. :-)
diverguy is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 06:21 AM
  #14  
Senior Member
 
Mithrandir's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 2,399

Bikes: 2012 Surly LHT, 1995 GT Outpost Trail

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Honestly MUP's are more dangerous than roads for clipless. Cars appear out of nowhere at the intersections, at least on the road you have traffic lights that you can see in the distance and a much better visible range allowing you to clip out sooner when needed.
Mithrandir is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 06:24 AM
  #15  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by ColinL
OP, I am really surprised you have fallen this much. What sort of pedals do you have? Maybe you need to get on the trainer and just practice clipping out *a lot*, but I'm wondering if you have chosen a pedal that is too hard to exit for you, and you need a different one that is easier to unclip. You could also have the tension too high, if it's a Shimano SPD.
Yes, they are Shimano SPD (don't quote me on that, I don't have them right in front of me). I believe now that they were too tight, and I should have gone a lot looser. I did loosen them last night. I'll go out again after work tonight. I practiced quite a bit yesterday trying to lose my balance and unclip at the last second to make it a more natural motion, and not just cerebral.
danmc is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 06:31 AM
  #16  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by diverguy
Sounds painful to both your body and your pride but practicing will help. Good idea to loosen the tension on the pedals, too. You'll get better at it. But there's a good chance you'll fall again someday. I've been riding clipless for years and, yesterday, I fell while standing still at a stoplight. Had unclipped with the right but not the left. Waiting for a green light. Decided to shift my bike over a little and lost balance. Let my thigh take the initial impact and then rolled with it. Nothing hurt... although I needed to shove a few dollars in the swear jar afterward. :-)
I think I'll just ride with my knee and elbow pads on for a couple of years...
danmc is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 06:35 AM
  #17  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 108

Bikes: Fuji Roubaix 3

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
When I went clipless, recently, one of the drills I practiced was emergency unclipping. I would ride slowly around the estate where I live and stop on an expansion joint. At first I made sure I was unclipped well before I stopped. Each time I did this I unclipped a little later. I got to the point where if I felt myself starting to go over my natural reaction was to twist my heal and unclip instead of trying to pull up. A couple of time I have been caught and have been able to unclip just in time.
Ndw76 is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 06:54 AM
  #18  
Senior Member
 
cocar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 178

Bikes: Treck lexa SC

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Big lesson I had to learn when I first started with them. Unclip foot, THEN BRAKE, then put foot down. Otherwise, you will fall.
cocar is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 07:05 AM
  #19  
Senior Member
 
elcruxio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Turku, Finland, Europe
Posts: 2,429

Bikes: 2011 Specialized crux comp, 2013 Specialized Rockhopper Pro

Mentioned: 8 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 804 Post(s)
Liked 293 Times in 197 Posts
I think it took me just a few days to learn to ride confidently with clipless pedals. At first i rode noob style clipping out quite early before the stop. Only fell down once clipped in and that was because i got stuck in sand. But clipping out early means one has to anticipate traffic conditions. And you can always clip back in if you don't have to stop afterall.

Nowdays i wait till i trackstand in traffic lights before clipping out. You can always tell a riders experience and confidence level by the speed in which they clip out. Good riders clip out after stopping. Noobs clip out 100 feet before the stop. But that's ok, because everyone was a noob at some point. And only experience makes better.
elcruxio is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 07:25 AM
  #20  
Senior Member
 
Ridefreemc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Location: Western Florida
Posts: 1,581

Bikes: 2017 Kona TI, 2016 Bike Friday Haul-A-Day, 2015 Bike Friday New World Tourist (for sale), 2011 Mezzo D9, 2004 Marin Mount Vision Pro - for now :)

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 103 Post(s)
Liked 5 Times in 5 Posts
Originally Posted by ARPRINCE
Your story reminds me when I first got an automatic transmission. Since I was so used to having my left foot press on the clutch, I found myself using it to press on the brakes. Good thing I never had an accident. What I did was I tied my left foot on the base of the seat so that I don't use it to press on the brakes. I got used to it in no time at all. Then again, you're story also reminds me of ALLEN IVERSON..."Practice?"
Clutch? What's that?

Just kidding, but I did have a youngster driving with me in my 1965 Chevy when he asked "what is that third peddle for?" Never thought about the fact that some people have never seen a clutch (let alone used one).

To the OP, great that you are practicing. It will be second nature soon. What I suggest to newbies is unclip well before you think you need to - at least until it does become second nature. Also, the cleat and peddle with start to work better (unclip more smoothly) with each other after some usage. Good idea to learn unclipping on both sides as well.

Don't forget to recheck the cleat bolts (to the shoe) after some usage. They tend to loosen as they settle in and if they do they are almost impossible to uncleat (if they are SPDs that is).

Last edited by Ridefreemc; 07-09-12 at 07:32 AM.
Ridefreemc is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 07:56 AM
  #21  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: North Attleboro, MA
Posts: 230

Bikes: 2011 Steamroller; 1998 Cannondale F-400; 1981 Motobecane Jubilee Sport

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by pgjackson
The key is recognize that you are going to fall and quickly get prepared. Don't stick anything out to break your fall. That is how you will smash our knees and break an arm. Just go with it. If done properly, your thighs should hit first then you kind of roll up your body. It's a technique I learned in martial arts...but it works. Yes, it will hurt, but not as much as if you tried to break your fall with your arm and ended up breaking it or dislocating an elbow.
+1, knowing how to take a fall is one of the most widely used benefits of martial arts. I can't tell you how many times it has saved me from serious injury, both while biking and downhill skiing.
SteamingAlong is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 08:56 AM
  #22  
Senior Member
 
cocar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Tampa, FL
Posts: 178

Bikes: Treck lexa SC

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by SteamingAlong
+1, knowing how to take a fall is one of the most widely used benefits of martial arts. I can't tell you how many times it has saved me from serious injury, both while biking and downhill skiing.
^^
this. I don't think this can be stressed enough. I'm a retired gymnast. The very first thing they teach you is how to crash/fall. It's totally saved me in skiing and cycling as well.
cocar is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 09:08 AM
  #23  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 65
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm saddened to learn of your accident. I'm new to clipless pedals as well, I just got a pair of Shimano 105's last Thursday and only bought them because many reviews said they were easy to get out of. I've been practicing on grass and taking very short rides of only a few blocks. I've come close to falling twice but was able to get out of the pedals in time. The binding is on the lightest tension setting. I fear that at some point I'm going to fall as well, I just hope I don't damage the bike in the process. Skin will heal, this man-made stuff won't.

I hope you'll soon be feeling better.
lgvincent is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 10:11 AM
  #24  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
danmc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Rochester, NY
Posts: 932
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by lgvincent
I'm saddened to learn of your accident. I'm new to clipless pedals as well, I just got a pair of Shimano 105's last Thursday and only bought them because many reviews said they were easy to get out of. I've been practicing on grass and taking very short rides of only a few blocks. I've come close to falling twice but was able to get out of the pedals in time. The binding is on the lightest tension setting. I fear that at some point I'm going to fall as well, I just hope I don't damage the bike in the process. Skin will heal, this man-made stuff won't.

I hope you'll soon be feeling better.
Thanks lgvincent. Although I'm not sure if I'd prefer myself to be injured over my bike! I think that keeping the tension loose while learning to use them is best. And since I didn't qualify for the TDF this year I have no need to have tight tension for fear of falling out during a sprint
danmc is offline  
Old 07-09-12, 10:56 AM
  #25  
Senior Member
 
dadof7's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: shreve, ohio
Posts: 133

Bikes: cannondale, schwinn, specialized moutain bike

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm thinking a roll cage might be a good idea....
dadof7 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.