During my Wednesday lunch break I popped across to Halfords to look at SPDs pedals & shoes and I dropped lucky as they had some mountain bike SPDs that had been returned. They were only asking £5 for the pair so I couldn’t refuse.
I just fitted one of them yesterday as I could only remove one of the pedals and then I cycled to the City of Manchester stadium for a Software Testing exhibition (which was actually more interesting and enjoyable than it sounds). Whilst cycling along Bury Old Road through busy Cheetham Hill I freed up both feet as it’s an area where you are very likely to make ‘unscheduled’ stops if you know what I mean but even when I had just one foot fixed I noticed the difference that pulling the pedal could make, particularly on accelerating away from lights and it also enabled me to stay longer in one gear. On the way home I stopped off at Heaton Park cycles and they loosened the other pedal for me (I was pleased to see it took them some considerable effort to do it) and whilst in there I asked if they had any 2nd hand road bikes for around £200. It was like it was all meant to be – the guy I was talking to was about my height and he had a bike he’d picked up 2nd hand in France and brought back to use himself but it sounds like he has plenty of alternatives in his garage. It’s a ‘vintage’ Peugeot, well about ’95 which I suppose makes it a last century model. I asked about the gear shift and yes they are old skool down between your knees but they have a spare STI shifts that they could fit which would add about £60 on but it still sounds like I could have found a quality, pedigree road bike with bags of character for a good price – and I’ll know it’ll be in very good riding order.
Anyway this morning I went out to climb Holcombe Hill which is a ride I have been intending to do for a few weeks. I climbed it to catch first light at the start of year and it was a magical experience. Today the sunrise was not quite so spectacular with heavy cloud and mist around but it was still well worth the journey and a first chance to ride on quiet early morning roads with both feet attached to pedals. I only had 3 incidents through the course of the 20 mile ride. The first was a bit silly as I was riding by the side of the Irwell just on the north side of Bury: A potential route for NCN6 had started in a promising manner in the form of a newly tarmac’d cycle path that then linked to new roads for an incomplete industrial estate. The road came to an abrupt end and so I had to pick up a muddy footpath by the side of the river which I used to trot along as part of a Friday afternoon school cross country run. This path ran up a steep bank to join a tarmac’d path over a bridge and although I was in the right gear to successfully climb it, I started turning too soon at the top, lost traction and momentum with the inevitable sideways fall following. With no time to unclip my feet I landed on soft grass thigh first, tweaking my left wrist as I used it to break my fall. I lay there laughing as I felt very silly and no real damage had been done.
The 2nd spill was close to the top of Holcombe. I had climbed steadily in the lowest gear and kept in the seat but showing a bit of impatience as I reached the sharp turn at the top of the hill, I climbed out of the saddle. I should have moved up a couple of gears first as the sudden surge in torque that I generated sent the backwheel spinning, loss of traction, momentum and then my only option was to apply the brakes and lean against a 2 foot high bank conveniently just to my left whilst I released my feet.
The last incident was just half a mile from home and was the silliest of the lot. I saw a guy on a road bike who had pulled over and although I don’t usual have the luxury of time or the required tools to enable me to assist other riders I thought to myself that if he had a puncture I could pop home and pick up my track pump. As it turned out he was just removing a layer of clothing but as I approached him on the pavement I unclipped my right foot, then when at a standstill I instinctively tried to put my left foot down. I lurched to one side and then realising I was about to fall threw my weight to the other side and put my free foot down. The funny thing was that as I was doing this I was saying "Do you need any help?" when it was me that was in more imminent danger.
Anyway 3 different lessons learned and I’m sure there will be other cleat related spills to come, hopefully they will be equally painless.