Thursday, March 09, 2006

So there I was...

…standing on the side of the road with a shoe in my hand.

I was looking forward to a fast blitz home last night. The wind was coming from the south at 20 to 30 miles per hour. A ferocious tailwind would be very welcome! I left work and zoomed north. The gods of traffic lights smiled on me, turning them green as I arrived at each intersection.

Indeed, I did the first couple of miles over 20 mph, then dropped down to the usual 15 as I went across the wind on the eastbound leg. Somewhere in there, I noticed my left side pedal seemed loose. I looked down but didn’t see any motion between the pedal and crank arm, so I figured the cleat was loose. I stopped to fix it. That’s when I discovered that the cleat was not about to release from the pedal. The retaining screws were loose, allowing my shoe to rotate, but not far enough to get the cleat to disengage.

I had been very, very lucky. Normally, I put my left foot down at stoplights. If I’d tried that, I would have fallen over. The only way to get out of the pedal was to untie my shoe and slip it off.

Then I discovered that my ubiquitous Cool Tool wasn’t in the bag! It just wasn’t my day. I considered calling home to have my daughter come and pick me up, but on second thought decided the bike was still rideable. Besides, I’d have to put up with her smug superiority at having to ‘rescue’ her dad.

I laced the shoe back on, balancing precariously on my right foot while doing so, and pushed off toward home. I hoped the shoe would stay attached to the pedal, but half a mile down the road it popped free. The cleat was still firmly attached, but the screws had come out completely. This happened on a hill, of course, so I pedaled along using mostly my right leg. The left shoe slid off if I pushed hard. From the top of the hill it’s only 5 miles home, so despite the pedal, I made it home safely.

Home Depot stocks 5x10mm screws, so I ran up there to get some replacements, fixed the shoe, and rode to work again today.

I stopped for a newspaper this morning. The wind had been southerly until I reached the convenience store, but when I stepped outside, I could see low, black clouds off to the west moving in rapidly. From a high point on 76th Street, I could still see the headlights of cars a couple of miles to the west, so it wasn’t raining – yet. The wind quickly shifted around to WNW and the temperature dropped. Once I made the turn south onto Mingo, I had a fair tailwind. A few raindrops pattered down on the road, but it didn’t really open up until I was in the parking lot. Timing is everything!

Between riding one-legged yesterday and spinning furiously to out-run the rain this morning, I managed to turn my legs into large pieces of wood with shoes on the ends. I’ll probably be clumping around the house like Frankenstein’s monster tonight.


Blogger Fritz said...

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

I had cleat screws come lose a few weeks ago and had that experience of twisting to unclip and the shoe remains attached to the pedal. I keep the bindings pretty lose anyway and I managed to yank up with enough force to disengage before I tipped over.

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.

4:43 PM  
Blogger Okiedoke said...

Ah, the advantages of old-fashoined toe clips.

6:37 PM  
Blogger George said...

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.

5:25 AM  

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