Click in. Click out. Click in. Click out.  Repeat at least 100 times during a long ride.

This is referring to bicycle shoes that clip into pedals designed to fit the shoe.  The cyclist needs to move his foot quickly away from the bike to free himself from the bike before dismounting or stopping.

I have owned a pair of bicycle shoes for one year, and am still learning to use them.   Like most newbies, I fell five times on the first day, fortunately while practicing on a lawn.  For a long while, I would only wear them with one shoe clipped in and the other free of the clip.

Why wear them anyway?  On long rides, cyclists will use a lot less energy on rides as the shoes do some of the work.  This is particularly true with rides that have many hills. 

I have a love/hate relationship with my bicycle shoes.  Last year, once I became a little more confident with them, I would ride with both feet clipped in.   On more than one occasion, after stopping, I would forget to clip out and fall right on the hard pavement.  On a few sudden stops there was little to no chance of clipping out on time.  More than one friend riding with me has declared they will never, ever, get a pair of these shoes after witnessing one of my falls. 

The love part comes with the afore-mentioned long rides.  While training for a charity ride, I was very, very happy wearing these shoes.  On the weekend of the 150-mile ride, they were great, even though I did fall once.

Fast forward to this spring:  my commute to work requires cycling through a city.    On the  first day of commuting to work, I rode my bike with the bike shoes.  Not once did I clip in with both at the same time.   Too much traffic, too many people, too many cars parked on the side of the road.  My confidence plummeted and since that time, I have ridden to work on my other bike with sneakers.  The cycling shoes only see the light of day on weekends, where the city is avoided and most miles are on bike paths.

Readers, do you have any advice on gaining confidence with these shoes?  Comments or questions from those who has never worn them are more than welcome. 

In the mean time, click in, click out. Click in, click out …


8 responses to “clickety-clack

  1. I dunno about the shoes, I usually ride with flip-flops on. 😛 that’s when it’s warm out.

  2. I don’t know why, but a lot of people I know swear by those shoes. I really want a pair, and a few people I know at REI suggested Shimano SPD’s… they’re easier to get in/out of; especially for beginners (like me). Also, pedals that are adjustable where you can change how tightly they hold to cleats are supposed to be pretty good.

    I had a friend who has this horrific story about how he was riding on a sidewalk in his clipless and crashed into a light pole since he couldn’t get out of his pedals fast enough. I’ve heard that it MAY have been because he adjusted the position of the cleats incorrectly… just slightly enough to cause him NOT to be able to get out of the pedals. Almost scared me, too, but I still REALLY want a pair of clipless… because like you said, they conserve energy. On mountain bike rides like I do, they would be SO beneficial!

  3. I began with SPD-style clips and a sort of “touring” shoe (i.e., a less-rigid sole with more grip). I found them pretty easy to get used to (notwithstanding my share of embarrassing falls at stop signs), and really noticed the increased sense of “power transfer” going into the ride.

    This season, I began running the more traditional clips with more traditional shoes. The feeling of connectedness to the bike is amazing, but I do find it very challenging to clip in when pushing off from a stop because the bottoms of the shoes are so incredibly slick, causing my foot to slip off the pedal frequently with painful results. I’ve also been experiencing some knee discomfort. I suspect it’s a matter of (1) practice and (2) adjustment to the cleat position and degree of float.

    On my daily commuter, I use traditional tow-clips and straps. They are very accommodating to any style of shoe, and I find them tremendously beneficial to have when riding in bad weather with slippery soles. I leave the straps loose enough to allow my foot to get in and out of the pedal easily and quickly.

  4. I’ve actually heard that straps are HARDER to get out of than the regular clipless! But that’s true, you CAN you different shoes… hadn’t thought about that one. I still wouldn’t use those for mountain biking. Commuting on the other hand…

    Just what you said about “the feeling of connectedness to the bike…” I think I’m convinced 🙂

  5. I really like the rat traps on my commuter. I couldn’t imagine wearing clip-ins through a busy downtown. I’ve also heard really good things about Chrome’s bike shoes and Power Grips (basically fabric strap cages).

  6. This is the third year I have been riding clipless. I would like to tell you that I changed my pedals,changed my shoes, grabbed my best gal and road off into the sunset.

    It was not as hard as I expected, but there is definitely a learning curve. This is more like what really happened. The first year I was strictly getting used to it. I would just use them just on the Kiwanis trail. After a few rides I noticed that I always put my left foot down when I stopped, this made it allot easier as I would unclip my left foot as I slowed down. The first summer I fell down four or five times, and of course there was always a friend or two around to help spread the word.

    The second year it was just riding and getting more comfortable them. This year I am to the point I do all my riding clipless even off road trail riding.

  7. Thanks for all the comments, especially yours, Chip. Since I am in my second year, I have hope! Can’t give up on them now that you have encouraged me to ride into the sunset! 🙂