Please offer me some encouragement

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Please offer me some encouragement

Postby arkle » Sun May 16, 2010 9:33 pm

Greetings from an Adelaidean.

My first road bike and its clipless pedals are not being kind to me. I need some encouragement before I give up on cycling and find a safer hobby.

I thought I'd practised clipping in and out enough but then I cycled out of my front gate, turned up the steep path, realised I was in top gear, stalled and fell on the road. It made my ankle hurt but otherwise I'm ok. Not many people can say that they've fallen off their new bike within 5 metres of first getting on it.

I press on. 40km later I'm climbing The Old Freeway and my front tyre seems to be slowly going flat. Damn. I stop to pump it up. It seems ok so I carry on. I stop at the top of the climb and pump it up again. I ride along the disused road, turn right into the cycle path, bottom out the front rim on a bump and suddenly, as I take the sharp left corner, the front tyre has gone completely flat and slides freely to the right. At 10kph, still clipped in, I fall hard on my left knee and faceplant the rocky verge so hard that my left contact lens gets rubbed out of my eye (even though I'm wearing sunnies) My eyebrow gets cut open, my nose is bleeding and I've got a fat lip. Blood starts pouring out of my knee and runs down my shin.

What kind of crazy system is this? When you fall off your bike your feet stay attached to the pedals and you land on the road with your knee and your face!

Thank you to the lady who stopped and gave me a tissue to wipe up some of the blood. And thank you to Mike on the white Scott who let me use his water bottle to clean the blood off my leg. I tell you what, it's not easy to repair a puncture and ride home with mild concussion and only one eye working.


Perhaps I would feel better if I could hear similar stories of pain and humilation. Or am I just unlucky?

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by BNA » Sun May 16, 2010 10:00 pm

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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby Sepoy » Sun May 16, 2010 10:00 pm

Happens to most people I think. My first one happened at 2am in the Sydney CBD, I pulled up alongside a taxi at a traffic light, tried to avoid unclipping by creeping forward slowly; the light lasted longer than I'd anticipated and I fell very, very slowly over, ending up still clipped in lying on my side like a 3d cyclist sign painted into the bitumen.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby hannos » Sun May 16, 2010 10:02 pm

Clipped in falling happens to everyone when they first use them.
As for your tyre, you got unlucky. Have you got a repair kit or spare tube with you? If not, you should look at getting those for the next time you ride.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby heliage » Sun May 16, 2010 10:15 pm

Clip stacks happen to most people, you just gotta hope no one was around while it happened :lol:.

Mine happened at end of my first day on bike, had spent hours just riding getting used to it, came back to driveway thought that I had to clip out, tried to clip out, didn't work as I had hoped :oops: and I made a slow fall to ground.

Just plain unlucky with the tyre though, sounds like it was a slow puncture, always gotta be careful with those.

Just get out and ride again when you can and keep practising clipping in. It will eventually become natural where you automatically do it before stopping.

Main thing is, is the bike alright?
To hurt less on a hill is to do it quicker
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby fatherofmany » Sun May 16, 2010 10:20 pm

Clipstacks, now they were the days, not...

Ive had 2 when stopping and another lowspeed crash where I couldn't get my feet out in time to stop me falling to the path which was 2 inches deep in mud & slush. I feel your pain.

Good news is, it gets better with practice. Get down to an empty carpark or basketball court or whatever, practice starting and stopping over and over until you feel comfortable getting in and out of the clips. Also check the tension on them, you'll notice a small hex bolt with an arrow or a + and a - symbol, turn towards the - , this will lessen the tension on the spring making it easier to unclip. Oh yeah, practice unclipping about 5 - 10 meters away from where you want to stop.

Handy hint, which I think you've now worked out the hard way, check tyres before you leave, any time it 'feels like' they are going down they are. Fix them then & there and not just pump them up hoping it will go away.

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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby KenGS » Sun May 16, 2010 10:26 pm

I can confirm that your feet unclip if you come off at 30km/h
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby triode » Sun May 16, 2010 11:06 pm

I'm also a n00b and only 1 month new to clipless. I manage to have 2 or 3 stack :oops:
I develop technique to fall on my bum or tight which I believe is least painful.
Funny thing is we fall because we fail to unclip, but when our bottom on the ground, our feet are unclip by themself !!
Anyway, now I feel strange when I ride my flatbar that has flat pedal (no clipless).
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby shiv » Sun May 16, 2010 11:11 pm

KenGS wrote:I can confirm that your feet unclip if you come off at 30km/h



+1 usually hurts a little though
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby hartleymartin » Sun May 16, 2010 11:35 pm

Spend some time in an empty car-park practising. You'll get used to it. You can probably adjust the clips so that it is easier to get in/out of them.

Otherwise, if it truly defeats you try the old style strap-in clip pedals.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby arkle » Mon May 17, 2010 6:45 am

Wow thanks, lots of encouragement already!

The bike's fine. Just a scuffed brake lever and pedal. I'm not the kind of person who needs everything to look shiny and new - every scratch tells a story.

I've wound the tensioning screws almost all the way back thank you for that advice. It's much easier to unclip now. Not that it will make any difference if I do the flat tyre rocky verge faceplant manoeuvre again.

I'm also keeping a paranoid eye on the pressure in the tyres. Is there a Presta valve tyre pressure gauge tool available somewhere? It really took me by surprise that a slow puncture could cause such a disaster. On my mountain bike you could ride around all day on flat tyres and nothing bad would happen to you. These tiny (25) road tyres aren't so forgiving.

And I'll be carrying a spare tube, antiseptic cream, dressings, bandages and extra lenses from now. That should nicely offset the weight difference of my new bike.

Thanks :)
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby Christine Tham » Mon May 17, 2010 8:17 am

Don't forget to wind the tension screws back to normal once you get used to it.

Clip stacks are very common happen to just about everyone at first (including me).

Once you get used to them, you will instinctively unclip whenever required without even realising it. It only takes a few weeks for your body to learn, and it seems to more stacks you have the faster you learn!

Always check what gear you are in when you stop. If it's too high, bring it back down by shifting, lifting the rear end of bike, and do half a rotation with one leg clipped in. Make this a habit! An even better habit is remembering to change down before you stop!

If a tyre has a slow leak, DO NOT JUST PUMP IT UP AND CONTINUE. A leak does not magically fix itself when you pump the tyre. Take out the tyre, find the source of the leak, fix it (usually a piece of glass, wire, or maybe it's a pinch flat), put in new tube, then pump/gas it up. Check that the pressure is holding.

If you do not find the source of the leak, it's likely you will get a flat soon afterwards with the new tube. I've seen riders that do this and run out of tubes.

If you are not comfortable with replacing tubes, I strongly suggest you get someone to show you (and then practice!) or enrol in a basic bike maintenance course. You do not want to be stuck on a lonely road with a flat and no spares and kms away from anywhere.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby you cannot be sirrus » Mon May 17, 2010 8:48 am

Arkle, my suggestion would be a full face motorcycle helmet and leathers, it'llstop all the hurt when you fall off and if you get a dark visor no-one will know who you are anyway.. Also very handy for winter riding in Bridgewater on these cold mornings.
Anyway you have my respect for riding up the old freeway, I struggle up there in the car.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby kibnedyo » Mon May 17, 2010 9:06 am

Dare I say after the obligatory clip stacks, you can begin to call yourself a cyclist.

Most of us have sufferd the embarrassment and frustration. Once you are used to them, you will feel naked without them.

I myself waited till I had the maximum embarrassment of a clip stack at a high school crossing at hometime. The crowd cheerd :oops: :oops: That was not the only early stack.

for on the road maintenance try these websites to help gain confidence with changing tubes etc. Carry at least a spare tube and bicycle tool, tube repair kit, a few $ for a drink or phone and a mobile phone if you have one. A leaking tube especially the front should not be ignored, for as you have discovered, makes for no steering and a crash.

http://www.jimlangley.net/wrench/wrench.html
http://www.parktool.com/repair/
http://www.sheldonbrown.com/
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby arkle » Mon May 17, 2010 4:27 pm

you cannot be sirrus wrote:Arkle, my suggestion would be a full face motorcycle helmet and leathers, it'llstop all the hurt when you fall off and if you get a dark visor no-one will know who you are anyway.. Also very handy for winter riding in Bridgewater on these cold mornings.
Anyway you have my respect for riding up the old freeway, I struggle up there in the car.


I'm seriously considering wearing my bike leathers on my bicycle. After all, I would never ride anywhere on my motorbike without full leathers, gloves and a full face helmet. If riding a motorcycle at 60kph needs such hefty protection then so should riding a bicycle at up to 65kph with my feet attached to the pedals so that I can't break my fall.

There's a great global website www.cycle2max.com that allows you to enter your times up climbs and around circuits (it is an honesty system). The times for The Old Freeway climb (from the Tollgate almost to Crafers) are here http://www.cycle2max.com/bike-hill-clim ... spx?id=925

The best time is under 20 minutes, which is amazing!! I can't even get under 35 minutes yet. (I waste too much time smashing my face into rocks).

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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby toolonglegs » Mon May 17, 2010 4:42 pm

arkle wrote:I'm seriously considering wearing my bike leathers on my bicycle.


Make sure you post a photo...I could do with a laugh!.
Never had a clip stack...but had plenty of road rash...all part of the fun.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby birdbrain » Mon May 17, 2010 4:52 pm

I had 2 clipstacks in my first week. The first one was going up a hill and I stalled just before the top. The second stack was at a set of lights and despite my frantic efforts I just could'nt unclip. I actually found that unclipping just became something I did'nt have to think about eventually.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby rustguard » Mon May 17, 2010 5:34 pm

Christine Tham wrote:Don't forget to wind the tension screws back to normal once you get used to it.


+100

I would have thought that whoever sold you the pedals should have advised you too do this. If you back it right off you should be able to just pull your foot out. Of coarse you cant accelerate as good.
On one pare of shoes I have the cleat is recessed a little deep and on one set of pedals I have,; they occasionally jam when I try to unclip. Its times like this that it is essential to trackstand so as you don't fall over.
I would recommend that you don't use clipless shoes until you can confidently handle the bike.
I also recommend practicing to trackstand regularly. It gives you more time for error when you go to unclip and also improves your low speed handling of the bike. As an added bonus it looks cooler than falling over at the lights.
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Re: Please offer me some encouragement

Postby Dai » Mon May 17, 2010 6:04 pm

I'm not sure that this is encouragement, but I'll offer some funny clipstack stories all of which happened to new users to make you feel better.

My aunt was pulling up at some traffic lights with her new SPD pedals on her MTB. I guess she was planning on holding onto the traffic light post instead of unclipping. Unfortunately she pulled up a little bit late and missed the post to hold onto. Result: A sideways topple onto the bonnet of the car stopped next to her at the traffic lights. To add insult to injury that car happened to be a police car. Fortunately she is pretty tiny, so damage was limited to her dignity only, but I think it was worth it for the story she can now tell.

Second story was a few months ago at traffic lights on Land St, near the Coro Drive bikeway at Toowong. I was stopped waiting for the lights to turn green when I hear a loud crash behind me. Turn around to see a guy spreadeagled on the pavement. I immediately guessed it was a clipstack, and made sure the guy was alright. Turned out it was his first commute with cleats and he was being careful by making sure he had unclipped well in advance of stopping. Unfortunately once he'd unclipped he rested his feet back on the pedals whilst coasting to a stop and somehow managed to clip back in.

The advice I got when I bought my first cleats was to loosen the tension, unclip well in advance of stopping, practice on a soft grassy area, and not be surprised when I eventually had a few clipstacks. I'm pretty good now, although a month ago I rode in the Bangkok Bike Hash and had a total of five clipstacks in the one day on account of the slippery conditions and the amount of dirt and mud that gummed up the mechanism on my pedals.

Stick with it!
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