I had a full-fledged Homer Simpson moment last night just before the first club ride of the season…
I attended the funeral for one of my favorite great aunts yesterday, just before lunch. While it was sad to say goodbye, seeing all of my aunts, uncles and cousins again was awesome – unfortunately though, that pressed me for time getting to the meeting spot for the ride.
Long story short, I had the 5200 in the back if the truck, gathered my helmet, shoes, gloves and everything else I would need and headed out to the meeting place… I had my bike ready to go when it finally dawned on me, my pedals were on the Cannondale back home.
Well, I needed a day off anyway so I packed up my bike, shut the lift gate and that’s precisely when one of the other guys said he had a pair of platform pedals in his truck.
Man did I feel like a dope, but on the bright side I figured it would make for a funny post so I installed the pedals on my 5200 and took it for a quick spin around the parking lot to see if I could hang. Oh dear God… I’ve been pretty rough on the old platform pedals and now my opinion of them is cemented forever: While sticking your foot out to turn, as a twelve year-old would on a BMX bike, makes cornering really fun, riding on them at speed (especially in a group setting) is nothing short of silly and dangerous at the same time.
Now, this was the first time since I started cycling that I rode a bike with platform pedals – you know, standard pedals, no toe clips, nothing to accept cleats… I had to wear my tennis shoes (and yes, I did catch some hell for it, and yes it was hilarious – initial estimates say that it’s going to take at least two years to live this one down).
Humorously enough though, I kept up. Being the first ride of the season, I don’t think anyone had high expectations – even the three racers who showed up were riding their cyclocross bikes. As is quite usual for Tuesday night, we started out at about a 18-19 mph pace… After having ridden the Cannondale for every ride I’ve been on this season, being on the 5200 was wonderful – to compare the improvement in ride from the aluminum C’dale to the carbon fiber Trek, let’s see… The difference between wearing minimalist wooden shoes and a nice pair of $125 New Balance – with the most pronounced heel-strike known to man, for a marathon. I do like riding the Cannondale because I have to work a lot harder to get decent speed out of it, but my composite bikes are like riding on butter in comparison.
After the first mile and a half, the horses took the lead and picked up the pace a bit. We were running about 21 mph and I was holding up pretty well. My pulls up front were pretty short, maybe a half or three-quarters of a mile, but I was quite pleased with how I was hanging in there with those Godforsaken, stupid pedals. I didn’t like was those pedals. First, with no pull on the back stroke, I was limited to mashing the pedals and mashing sucks. It’s unbelievably inefficient. Second, trying to hold a 90 rpm cadence without having my feet locked into the pedals was a serious pain in the butt because I had a tough time keeping my feet in the proper place – my heels were floating a bit and keeping the ball of my foot over the axle was near impossible.
I cut my ride short so I could get back home – Mrs. Bgddy had plans to go out for a run. I ended up with 23.5 miles (give or take) in something like an hour and fifteen minutes. Much better than I figured I’d be able to do this early.
Now if you remember, just one week ago, I wrote the day would never come that I rode with platform pedals on my Venge. Just one week ago. Circumstances being what they are, the only other choice I had was to skip the ride and I didn’t want that, but you’d think I’d learn not to use the word “never” in a post. Ah well, such is life. That said, I hope I never have to ride like that again… Platform pedals , straight up, no BS, suck. Getting used to toe clips or the lock-in pedals may be difficult, but it’s worth the time and effort, no doubt about it – even if you fall over a time or two in the process of learning your way around them*.
I “heart” my Look Keo Classics.
*I am the only cyclist that I know of – in our group or in all of the cycling friends I have on the net – the only one, who hasn’t fallen over because I was clipped into my pedals – everyone does at least once. My days are numbered and I know it… I consider myself very lucky but am under no delusion that I’ll be able to keep this streak going forever. That said, riding with cycling shoes and a decent set of lock-in pedals is worth all of the trouble that comes with getting used to them – and then some.