Blood, sweat and cleats

So after months of avoiding it, I finally found the courage to try cycling with cleats and well, it ended in blood, sweat but no tears….

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I’d been avoiding it since Matt bought me pedal cleats and shoes for Christmas but I knew the longer I left it the more nervous I would become.  After a little pep talk from Matt I reminded myself that this was one of my cycling aims for this year so I just had to get it done!

It was a beautiful sunny day – perfect for cycling and the excitement of wearing my new Morvelo kit was a good distraction. Matt suggested we cycle around the block a few times and you know what, I did it perfectly first time. Clipped in and clipped out like an absolute pro so I was feeling pretty chuffed with myself and wondered why I had made such a big deal out of it.

After a few times around the block practising clipping in and out we decided to set off and at the first junction, what happened? Yep you got it, I fell over in SPECTACULAR fashion. For some reason I’d decided to unclip with my right leg then leaned left – cos you know that’s logical. In what felt like slow-mo in a movie I ended up in the middle of a busy road with a queue of 4 cars behind me. Well if you’re going to fall over you got to do it in style…

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Luckily Matt was there to tell me to just forget about it and carry on which is exactly what I needed.  I didn’t want to give myself any time to talk myself out of it so I got back on my bike feeling a bit stupid and praying that every time we approached traffic lights they’d stay on green so I wouldn’t have to stop and unclip. Then, we got to a zebra crossing… and what happened. I fell off again. I wasn’t doing so well…

We were in Lancashire visiting Matt’s family so I wasn’t familiar with the route which I think helped because it meant I didn’t worry about what was coming up next and it allowed me to concentrate on getting used to the cleats. The route was also much flatter than our usual local route which I was grateful for. Despite that there were obviously some hills on route and I’m not going to lie – knowing I couldn’t stop half way up as I was physically attached to my bike did really scare me.

As someone who doubts my ability a lot, when I’m cycling I really do have to concentrate on mind over matter as I admit I usually am one to easily quit. After half a minute on the first hill near Rivington I actually finally started to believe what everyone had been telling me for so long – cleats make it easier. I found my pedalling was much more fluid and I wasn’t ‘stomping’ my legs like I used too. It still hurt and boy was I happy when I got to the top but it was easier and I found I wasn’t as tired as I usually am when finishing a climb. Matt even said I ‘bossed it’ up the hill and coming from him that’s a big deal so I must have done well! So well in fact that he thought I was ready for a bigger hill….

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This time it was near Angelzarke Resevoir and I think the only reason I got up it was because Matt said if I could get up it I could have two scoops of ice-cream on the way home – he knows the way to my heart. It was also definitely worth it for this view……

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Although I screamed all the way down during the descent and I feel sorry for the poor pedestrians who had to witness my terrified face as I hit 30mph downhill.

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After tackling the hills my confidence had definitely been given a boost and after some stops and starts and another fall (LOL) I learnt to unclip early. That’s the lesson of the post guys!

Now I still have some way to go and busy roundabouts may be a challenge but I conquered a fear and that for me is an achievement and I can’t wait to get back out again.

Do you have any top tips for gaining confidence cycling with cleats?

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Falling over was worth it for this alone.

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Comments

  1. April 29, 2017 / 7:01 am

    Unclipping early is the key one – most falls happen because you forget or try and unclip at the very last moment and can’t do it quick enough (as you probably found out). Also make sure the pedal spring tension is wound all the way down to make it as easy as possible to unclip. Sooner than you think it will become second nature and you’ll wonder how you rode a bike without them.

  2. May 8, 2017 / 7:05 pm

    There’s a good reason I haven’t tried cleats yet haha. I think I’m making it a goal for next year though, I know it’ll make my cycling better! I’m already clumsy though and I’ve even managed to embed some of the sprockets in my leg before… Massive well done for managing it (even with a few falls) xx

    • May 8, 2017 / 8:52 pm

      Thank you! I still haven’t quite plucked up the courage to cycle through Leeds city centre with cleats yet, so many traffic lights and angry drivers would mean a lot of stops and I’m not quite mentally prepared for that but working on it!

      • May 8, 2017 / 8:53 pm

        You’ll get there! Maybe do a few more rides before you go for that first though!

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