I started cycling about 50 years ago. My family of six used to ride around town together. People said we looked like Disney on Parade! We had a variety of bikes and you just grabbed one to go with. A couple had banana seats with high rise handle bars. There was a vintage Schwinn, a Raleigh touring bike and a tandem to choose from. There was no “bike fitting”. You just rolled.
While in high school, I rode my bike to school, to sports practices, to work, and to volunteer opportunities. It gave me a sense of independence and freedom. I bought my first road bike (a Trek) with money earned from babysitting and working as a lifeguard. I thought I was something else when I rode twenty miles.
In college, I continued to ride and would easily adventure out for fifty to a hundred miles at a time. I fell in love with distance riding back then. The big difference between then and now, though, is back then, we didn’t have cell phones or satellite trackers. If you broke down and were stranded, good luck! No wonder my mother didn’t want to know what I was up to. She would worry way too much.
After college, I worked in the Chicago area, and I found a friend who would ride with me. We had regular old steel 10-speeds with drop handle bars but we were fast! We typically rode about four hundred miles per week including two hundred plus mile rides. You ride that many miles, you tend to get strong and fast. We generally rode a 25 plus mph pace. We pushed until we were able to ride our hundred mile training route in just under four hours.
I’ve probably ridden close to fifty thousand miles including my trek across America earlier this year. And that’s with about twenty five years away from riding all together. In all that time and over all those miles, I’ve ridden with plain platform pedals or with toe clips. I never had any desire to even try clipless pedals (yes – those are ones you actually do clip into), until now. For whatever reason, I decided to go clipless. Maybe it’s Mr. SAG’s fault for once again bringing me to REI. When I go to REI, I always find something to come away with. This time, it just happened to be new shoes and clipless pedals. Now mind you, there is no research that shows that clipless are actually better or more efficient than platform pedals. There are just a lot of anecdotal and subjective opinions. It’s funny, now that I have them (and I’ve ridden just over a hundred miles with them), I sort of feel all grown up! I no longer feel like a kid grabbing any bike that’s handy. And I do like them. For me, I’ve gained about 2 mph in speed and they make it noticeably easier to stand out of the saddle when climbing.
They took a little getting used to. Clipping in was especially different. With toe clips, you lead with the toes. With a clipless system, the cleat is more towards the mid foot. And luckily, I haven’t forgotten to or been unable to clip out when stopping. Oh, but I’m sure there will come a day!
Song of the day…