Wednesday, June 24, 2009
A case for clipless
(can you tell I enjoy taking on the saddle shots?)
Well, I have done it. I have gone clipless. Sold out, gone roady...say what you will. I can take it. Go ahead.
Cycling friends (and the local bike shop guys) have extolled the virtues of clipless riding since the beginning. I eschewed the very idea, saying that I didn't want to be a 'clippy person', clicking into shops and being forced to wear special shoes. I was perfectly happy with my Power Strips. I loved them actually, as much as I loved being able to hop on my bike in heels, or Vans, or flip flops. I was simply not ready to commit to being a 'roadie' (a term I hate, like fixie kid, or commuter...can't we all just be cyclists? I digress...).
Then I did a really, really hard ride. My feet kept slipping from my Power Grips, they broke off midway through an uphill climb, the soles of my feet were aching from soft soles and I knew I could get more power if only I could pull on the uphill. Not to mention the hiking I had to do in soft soled Vans (still my favorite shoes for riding, btw). Power Grips are incredible on normal hills, but major climbing is a bit of a strain for them.
A week went by and I talked to my 'clippy' friends. I visited the bike shop. Most importantly, I found out that I could get reversible pedals! Not forced to wear only clipless shoes?! This is getting better. Wait, there are shoes that I can wear that don't click?! All for under $200. Things were looking up. I was still nervous and, honestly, a bit worried about what friends would think. We have always said that we want cycling to be more accessible and scoff at the idea of full spandex kits, choosing a bike for it's weight and spending all of our money on accessories.
I was at a crossroads. Do I go clipless and increase my speed and make my climb over the mountain easier, or do I hold tight to my 'urban riding' pride? For a flat city, there would be no question-no clipless. However, with a mountain to traverse and rolling hills the entire way, a little help would be nice.
In the end, efficiency won out (hey, I do have a degree in Economics). I bought the pedals and shoes, had a quick lesson at Homewood Cycles and was ready.
I love it. I was really kind of hoping to hate it. Nope. My average speed increased 3.5 mph and my knees feel better. My climb each day is still hard, but not as hard as it used to be. Between the heat and the mountain, my commute is a bitch. However, now it is my bitch.
Shoes: Bontrager Race Mountain Shoes $89.99
Pedals: Shimano PD-M545 $89.99
If you decide to take the plunge, I highly recommend these for beginners who don't want to fully commit. I can take off for the bars in heels, or clip in for a serious ride. Best of both worlds.
Oh, and I have only fallen twice. I consider that a success.
Are you clipless? What do you think of it?