Friday, March 10, 2006

My dogs are barkin'!

(No, it’s not another dog story. But trust me, I’ll get around to a dog tale before long!)

Gosh! I didn’t know pedals could be such a sore point!

Fritz wrote:

You unclip your left foot at stops? That's weird. No matter you're so twisted.

…I think it was about two years ago when the threads somehow stripped on my non-drive-side crankarm and the pedal plonked clean out while I was riding. I pedaled one-legged back home, but I was only about a mile from home when that happened so it wasn't bad.

Yes, it’s true. I unclip my left foot. It just feels weird to unclip the other one. Dunno why. I’ve always done it that way. Another habit I have is to mount the bike from the left – always. Maybe that’s why I unclip on the left too. Honestly, it felt very strange to stand astride the bike with my right foot on the ground. Maybe I should work on becoming ambipedalous?

I’ve had a pedal work loose too. It happened on my Giant last summer, ruining a Shimano 105 crankarm. By the time I noticed, about half the threads were gone. Fortunately, Tom had an older Shimano 600 crankset that was lightly used. It’s even shiny where the 105 was powder coated.

I’ve been a roadie since roughly 1972, and this is the only time I’ve had a cleat come loose. Sure, I cracked a few of the old nailed-on cleats, but I never had one fail in use. For that matter, the loose pedal on the Giant was a first too. Regardless, I hope not to repeat the experiences.

Okiedoke wrote:

Ah, the advantages of old-fashioned toe clips.

I used clips and straps for a very long time, but once I switched to clipless, there was a huge difference in comfort. I wear size 13E shoes. The width makes straps painfully uncomfortable after a couple of hours. They rub directly on my little toe. In the old days I had no other choice, but I really value my comfort now. Why suffer?

It’s hard to find shoes – any shoes – that fit properly and it’s worse when looking for cycling shoes. My little toes curl under. I thought it was due to wearing too-narrow shoes when I was young, but it turns out to be a genetic trait. The toes wear holes in the sides of my shoes. This is no big deal with my ancient Converse All-Stars. The holes just give them more character. But some shoes cause corns to develop, and when that happens, toe straps are painful.

I used Bata Bikers for commuting long, long ago. (If you remember them, you’re an old fart too!) They resembled sneakers, with a black canvas upper and a rippled rubber sole. But they had a fiberglass midsole than gave incredible stiffness. They were too stiff to walk in for long, but you could walk up a hill if necessary. The ripples engaged the pedals fairly well and they didn’t slip easily. Naturally, mine had holes over the little toes. They were comfortable for typically short commutes.

I had some Italian cycling shoes too, with nailed-on cleats. Very stiff, very chic, and very, very narrow! Finding ANY cycling shoes back then was difficult, and finding ones that fit properly was almost impossible. I suffered.

George wrote:

Hmmm, I just took the Look style pedals off of my Surly commuter and slapped a set of BMX pedals on. It's much easier to run errands when you can walk in shoes without cleats.

The utility bike I built up has BMX pedals. You’re absolutely right, George. They make running errands so much easier. I can jet down to the grocery store in docksiders or sneakers. But I wouldn’t want them for commuting, especially on my fixed gear. When the wind comes up and I have to do a long slog into a headwind, I really do try to pedal in circles, pulling up on the pedals as well as pushing down. One problem I’ve encountered with BMX-type pedals is staying in contact with the pedal at high revs. I tend to come off, and that’s a PITA on a fixie.

Now, I can understand having a long discussion about saddles because where a gentleman sits is quite important. (Or a gentlewoman, too. Is that a real word? I don’t know, but I’ll probably look it up in the dictionary to be sure.) We’ve covered two sore points, pedals and saddles, because I wrote about saddles some time ago. What’s next? Handlebar tape and gloves? If we do those, we’ll have covered all the contact points.

Really, when you get right down to it, those contact points determine how comfortable we are on a bike. It’s hard to convince a newbie that there are good reasons for wearing specialized shoes and shorts. Many have to experience the difference before they’re convinced. But shoes, shorts, and gloves make all the difference between a long, fun day in the saddle and a tortuous ordeal. That’s assuming the bike fits properly, of course, but it’s a topic for another day.


Blogger Coelecanth said...

It started with gloves. Up till that point I was militant about wearing street cloths when commuting. But I was tired of cheap ski golves wearing out so I bought a pair of lobster claws. Comfy, warm and the beginning of the end.

Next came padded shorts, then toe clips, then cycling shoes, then a gortex jacket, then long tights, and finally a much delayed switch to clipless. Each step I fought with myself, "I don't really need this stuff, the wheels still go round without it." and each time I was glad I made the change.

My SO gives me a hard time for always wearing my cycling stuff regardless of how far I'm going, but it just feels right and each piece has a practical advantage over walkin' around cloths.

I unclip my left foot too. I started when I was a newbie to avoid chainring tattos and now it feels weird to put the right down.

The only way the clipless pedals are coming off of my bikes, including the fixy, is if someone steals them. I've always managed to find shoes with a recessed cleat mounting point that are perfectly comfortable to walk in.

11:39 AM  
Blogger Fritz said...

As far as I'm concerned there is absolutely no advantage to old style toe clips. I was an early and enthusiastic adopter of Look bindings and cleats. The occasional loose cleat is no worse than tipping over because I didn't bend over fast enough to loosen the straps.

My feet aren't overly large or wide, but I can't wear skinny Italian shoes. I've also worn holes in the sides of my shoes where my feet flare out at the toes.

My cruisin' with normal shoes bike is my mountain bike. I bought clipless pedals for it but it's just too handy having a bike with platform pedals available.

2:42 PM  
Blogger the old bag said...

Left-clippers of the cycloworld, unite! You and me, baby.

And I chose to experience a week in the Canadian Rockies using a long-sleeved cotton T-shirt...rainclearrainclearrain which finally convinced me that jerseys actually have a pretty functional purpose. Sometimes one has to experience it before becoming a convert.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Paul Tay said...

Yes, I remember the Bata Bikers. I never did use them. One of my fav shoes were the Duege wooden soles. Stiff mofos!

4:02 AM  
Blogger Lizy said...

Good post!But why dont to try out Nike shoes which are always comfy for bike rides.

12:09 PM  

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