Yea, don’t try to teach old dogs new tricks? My hip and ankle can feel the truth of that old adage. It’s a beautiful day today and half the city was out on their bikes, me included. There haven’t been many good biking days so this was only the third time I had tried out the new clipless pedals that were a Christmas gift this year. (Note here: I have no idea who came up with the name clipless because everything about them is clippy. You have to clip the bottom of your shoe to the pedal in a very permanent feeling way. It sounds like a clip and certainly feels like a clip.) The first two times out with my new shoes and pedals, I had ridden my mountain bike around town. I could predetermine when I would need to clip out of my pedals – a red light, a sharp turn coming up. I was feeling pretty confident.
But today was my first attempt at trail riding with the new system. I rode a familiar trail, one that I really love letting loose on, one that makes me feel not nearly as old as I am. I feel like I can keep up with the 30 somethings on Betasso. Not today. I managed to take a small tip over spill in the first 15 seconds when my biking partner’s dog came out to greet me as I rode up to her mountain house. I didn’t think I was clipped in but when I was ready to stop, lo and behold those clipless pedals were firmly clipped in. I managed to wrench my foot out just in the knick of time. Full disaster averted.
And then we hit the trail. I was pretty tentative and nervous but also feeling like I could do this. The rest of my family can do, all of the women I bike with can do this, surely I can do this. I rode the first 10 minutes clipped in and feeling pretty good. And then we pulled over to let some bikers through. We got ready to go again and as I clipped in to my right foot and pedaled down to take off, the biker in front me didn’t. I had to stop and did the perfect slow motion tip over – solidly attached to my bike by that lovely little ‘clipless’. After a good ankle gouge and what will be some wonderfully large and purple bruises later, I did not clip back in for the rest of the 2 hour ride.
I am too old for this. After 30 years of mountain biking with old fashioned pedals, I was pretty darn good at it. In fact, I can’t even think of a spill taken because I couldn’t get my foot out in time. It was a great idea but I think those fancy new patent leather biking shoes are only going to the party in spin class from now on. I want my old pedals back.