I was in my local bike shop today and overheard a new trick for learning to ride clipless pedals. It was to learn to ride with one clipless pedal and one regular flat pedal first. Then only add the second pedal when you get confident enough to control exiting from the first.
The tip made me rethink about how novices learn to ride clipless. For women, making the leap to clipless pedals on a mountain bike can feel like jumping into a dark abyss blindfolded. While some parts of the United States is full of women riding clipless pedals it can still an intimidating notion.
Actually, it can be downright scary.
My wife’s first experience with clipless pedals on a mountain bike almost went off without a hitch until she tried to ride over a log but caught her chainring and couldn’t clip out before she was sliding down a steep off-camber embankment. The result was a bloody scrape on her leg but the real damage was her bruised confidence.
The fear of being “locked in” to the pedals can be paralyzing. But if you can move beyond fear you find the opportunity to find new paths for real change.
A clip-in system (similar to a ski binding) is a must have for most cycling enthusiasts. Instead of confining your movement, they actually allow more efficient power transfer while providing better control and stability. They allow you to ride and climb steep, technical trails that you might have thought impossible. These pedal systems also conserve energy helping you ride longer and stronger and even faster if you desire more speed.
With practice it can be easy
Even after some practice, the first few rides might have a moment of panic, but the technology in new pedals and shoes sold today make clipping out more reliable than ever. In the past it was muddy conditions that made clipping out the most challenging thing to learn. Mud can be sticky and trap your foot but new pedals are more open and shed mud without clogging the moving parts.
With a little patience most cyclists get used to riding clipless pedals. The increased power and pedaling efficiency will reward you with a lifetime of cycling and will soon outweigh the time used learning the step in process. See you out there!