Saturday, August 13, 2016
Pedals and Going Au Naturel
It might seem like a no-brainer to most people. I imagine most commuter cyclists have never used toe clips or clip-in style either. Why complicate a commuter bicycle, you might ask? In stop and go traffic, it doesn't make sense, I know. So why all this fuss and angst? Why did I ride for years around town with a finicky, flip-pedals-backward-at-every-take-off style of riding?
The short answer is: it's been a habit since 1983. 33 years! It's how I rode across the country; it's how I rode around the world. It's how I commuted in Portland, Oregon for 10 years and here in Vermont for the last 20. With my feet secured to pedals, it's supposed to be efficient, but as I look back, I wonder if that's technically true. I am not a fast rider - never have been. I average 10 m.p.h. so I presume toe clips were a security blanket, a necessary appendage on all my bicycles.
Removing the toe clips has also become symbolic. Like shedding parts of my past, I am ready for a new adventure, riding mainly step through bicycles, without clips. I have let go of my emotional attachments to the Miyata and Trek, ready to part with one and part out the other.
After one week without the toe clips, I have come to embrace this new style of riding. My sandaled feet can breathe better. I like easily planting my feet on the ground. I feel faster without the extra step of removal or inserting feet inside the clips (nominal increase in speed, I'm sure!). On the flip side, it is awkward unlearning a 30+ year old habit and I'm afraid my feet may slip off the pedal and cause injury to my shin. It is clear I will need wider and/or longer pedals to truly make this transition become more comfortable.
At the moment I am awaiting the arrival of my Rivendell Clementine, a bike I plan to tour with, going au naturel, truly immersing myself into the world of platform pedals. Or that is at least my hope. I will give touring without toe clips a heartfelt try.
Have you ever experienced something similar, something you once considered integral to cycling, but have decided you can do without?