On the advice of some friends, I got SPD pedals and mountain bike shoes. The mountain bike shoes have a recessed cleat, so they're easier to walk in, and having a pair I can wear with either bike saves me having to buy two pairs of shoes. Another savings was that Craig had sent me a pair of SPD pedals back in the winter, so I only had to pay for one set of pedals. So, now I had pedals for both bikes, but I started with putting them just on the road bike.
Part 1: Road bike
|Not so scary, after all|
As soon as I pedaled off, though, I realized how easy it was and felt so silly for being worried about it for so long. I have to say, too...I love clipping in. I feel fast. I love wearing flip flops to a ride and changing into my bike shoes. I feel like one of the club. I've ridden about 100 miles clipless on the road bike and haven't fallen yet. Now, that's not to say I don't think it'll happen; I'm sure it will. Right now I'm really aware of being clipped in, so I'm thinking about it when I'm stopping and starting and unclipping in plenty of time. Once I get comfortable and stop being so conscious of it is when I'll probably fall.
Part 2: Mountain bike
|Fascinating pictures, I know :P|
Wednesday afternoon, I met Chuck, Megan, and her friend Rob (Ron?) right on time (for once). Since the temperature was hovering around 100, I made sure to bring plenty to drink, and this time I remembered to bring some food along with me, too. Once we were riding, I realized what I'd forgotten: my bike gloves. They were in my car, so I figured maybe I'd grab them after the first loop. Chuck led the way, followed by me, and then Megan and Rob behind me.
It's pretty rare for me to not automatically go last (I just assume I'll be the slowest); not sure what got into me there. Megan is military and just coming off two straight weeks in the field, so she was pretty worn out. Even though she can normally ride circles around me, it was nice to not be the one dragging way behind for once. The trail starts out fairly flat and winds through a wooded area near the namesake creek. Just like on the road bike, I had no trouble getting unclipped when we stopped.
It was when the trail started to climb a little that I realized the main problem. I do just find unclipping when I know I'm going to need to; getting unclipped at the last minute when you run into trouble is a whole different thing. I had a couple minor falls on the first loop, both at very slow speed: once I toppled over against a rock outcropping and once I started falling when I didn't clear a root but -- where there's roots, there's trees! -- caught myself against a tree. Once I started anticipating where I might get into trouble and being aware of where I might need to put a foot down, I did a little better getting unclipped.
It was super hot out, so we took a break to soak ourselves at a faucet, and then after the first loop we all went down to the creek and sat down in it. Megan had caught a second wind towards the end of the first loop and was feeling better decided not to push it, so she and Rob took off and Chuck and I headed out for a second loop. The second trip around was good, too. Chuck still had to wait for me here and there, but overall I kept up better.
In fact, towards the end of the second loop, Chuck
It can be hard to see your own progress sometimes, but I know he's right. I'm definitely more confident and less inept than I was even a couple of months ago...and that is a direct result of having friends who are far better mountain bikers and yet still nice enough to let me
We finished up our second loop with a slightly different route than the first loop so that I could see the section of trail they use for part of the race course out there. There's a downhill stretch followed by a field path that runs alongside the road.
|This picture is from Broemmelsiek Park, but you get the idea|
Whereupon I immediately crashed. Hard. Apparently I make entertaining sound effects when I'm falling; I don't remember making any noise, just landing on my shoulder and then my head. While I've appreciated the nice dry spell we've had for letting me get in lots of good riding time, it sure made for a hard landing. Good news: the new helmet works great. Bad news: I wasn't wearing shoulder pads, too. I sat there for a minute or two and tried not to cry or throw up. I don't know what it is about getting hurt, but it makes me nauseous.
Being back on the bike and having the wind in my face felt better, and I took my time loading everything up.
|My whole left side was covered in dirt from the fall. The other pictures actually show the dirt better, but this is my favorite one of ME, so that's what you get. :) ...and even though I look a little like a yeti, that's dirt on my arm...not hair.|