Monday, December 24, 2007

New Shoes

So I've been keen on trying them clipless pedals since about 3 years ago, when I realised all the serious cyclists were using them. They gush about them, telling of wonderful stories of how you can instantly gain 2-3kmh of speed just by using them. They train your muscles to pedal in even circles, they let you ride safely when your pedals are all slippery and wet.

They also say, you WILL fall the first few times you ride with them.

That put me off using them, and I stuck with my old, unglamorous retro-looking platform pedals. Until the bearings rusted in, and I got a lighter, shinier pair of platform pedals.


So fast forward to 2 weeks ago. I've been riding my bicycle more than ever, in a bid to hunkify and healthify myself. And I thought. I can't really get to love my bicycle of 4.5 years if the frame's so much lower end than the trinkets hanging off it - a superbly plush fork with adjustable travel, rebound and compression damping, a modest but silky smooth drivetrain, spanking new lightweight rims laced to sweet sweet XT hubs, et cetra. And the frame came from the original bike which cost less than the fork and the rims combined (the whole bike stock, not just the frame.)

And thus, a spanking new Cube/Giant/Voodoo/etc frame looked infinitely attractive. Thought about it and then decided - hey this isn't a valid reason to get a new frame. It won't make me ride much faster, neither can I really find any fault with my current frame.

That decision was finally carved into stone when I rode my GT and overtook someone riding a Voodoo Bokor (one of the frames I was eyeing) on an uphill.

It's not about the bike.


So, back to the drawing board. How else can I better spend my money to add value to my cycling enjoyment and its hunkification abilities?

Clipless pedals and shoes. Shimano SPDs to be specific, as they're the de facto standard for beginner clipless users. They offer adjustable clipping-out spring tension and have affordable, beginner-level pedals.


And so I got them.

Bike shop guy said something to the effect of, I'd see the 'beauty of SPDs', and helped me adjust the spring tension at a minimum so it'd be easier to clip out.

And I installed them, adjusted the cleats to perfect alignment, and tested them at the void deck of the block, with the driving rain to drown out my screams should I hurt myself badly.

The first times I try, it takes several times before I manage to clip in, and when I do, it takes me nothing less than an eternity to twist my feet out of those death clutches.

Fell at the void deck, twice, with a scrape and a bruise to bring home. Not too serious though. Everyone falls. Everyone falls. I keep on repeating to myself, trying to convince myself that I'm not some useless klutz.

I can't let clipless pedals defeat me. Or I'd be a whimpering wuss who doesn't deserve to call himself a cyclist.

And double ouch, the pedals are already scratched by those failed attempts to clip in. Guess they'll be scratched sooner or later - they're pedals we mercilessly stomp on, not some delicate gadget to be babied.


Rode them for real the next day, ignoring the smarting wound on my knee. No disasters this time round; I was riding extra carefully and extra slowly.

They did help me climb a little more smoothly, but I can't help but wonder - are those improvements because:
1. I ride slower near the hazards because riding clipless means I can't bail out at any time.
2. When I ride slower, I use less energy and have more reserve energy left...
3. for the climb ahead of me.


But anyhow, most people do end up loving clipless pedals to bits, so I should be pretty alright I hope?

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