The Chainlink

Doing Ride MS, new to cycling, clipless pedals and centrury

I am sooooo over my head. I just wrapped up grad school and thought I'd have time to train andddd over estimated the time, annnndddd under estimated my um, fear for falling in the streets of Chicago. Any good recs for spots to practice and well, any positive reinforcement would be spiffy. Mahalos!

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I just made the transition to clipless pedals a few weeks ago.  I started by doing starts and stops in the alley until I felt comfortable with it, then rode carefully to the nearest bike path.  You get used to them very quickly.  I had one time where I forgot to unclip, but my panicked flailing managed to unclip my foot before I fell, so no problem.  As an added bonus, I'm sure it was entertaining to the onlookers.  Also note that your pedals are probably adjustable.  I made sure that mine were at the loosest possible setting: it's very easy to unclip. Good luck and have a good ride!
Thank you Dotty for your great advice! Was there a certain area of Chicago you think is easier to ride? By Wicker it's super busy and a little intimidating. Again, thank you so much for the well-wishes! Hurrah for positive reinforcement!

I have taught several people to ride with clipless pedals. I take them to an empty parking lot and have them do circles, practicing stopping and clipping in and out

 

I then have them pass close to me, sometimes I make them stop, other times pass on by. The only way is to practice until it becomes second nature.

 

I try to always use the same foot to clip in and out at stops, when I am unsure of what cars or others around me do I try to unclip, leaving my foot on the pedal< Then deal with the situation

 

When restarting, pedal a few times first before you try and clip in, it is much more stable to clip in with a head of steam

Bottom line you will fall over at least once. we all do, and it will not be our last time either, the good news is you will fall at a stop so it will just be a tip over kinda thing

 

Good luck on the ride

 

There are some good beginner training rides out there, Monday night CCC rides leaves from lincoln and california at 6:30 pm, 30 miles or so, moderate pace and it will teach you how to ride in a paceline and in a group.

I'm making the transition and friends of mine have suggested keeping one regular pedal on and starting with one clip-less.  That way if you can't un-clip, you can rely on the other foot when stopping.  They also said to un-clip before you break, so your foot is already out at the time you stop.
The Lakefront Path early in the morning is a good place to ride but otherwise you need to get out of Chicago to aquire miles. There are lots of good routes in the north burbs. One option is to ride Milwaukee or Elston to Milwaukee/Devon and take the North Branch Trail from there. This is a route similar to what many people do:

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Standard-North-Ride

If you are "training" for this year's MS Tour de Farms, as in, the one a few weeks from now, I would ditch the clipless and just have fun.
Thank you Michael. I was hoping to get out today, but the rain overall, has been meddling with my plans. Thank you for the advice and for letting me know about the ride on Monday. There is one on Saturday that goes for 50miles, but I'm a little hesitant because of the mileage and my lack of riding in a group. Overall, I am super appreciative of all the support shown on this forum! I don't own a car and think this is going to be my way of getting around! Any tips for shifting is going to be my next question!

Michael A said:

I have taught several people to ride with clipless pedals. I take them to an empty parking lot and have them do circles, practicing stopping and clipping in and out

 

I then have them pass close to me, sometimes I make them stop, other times pass on by. The only way is to practice until it becomes second nature.

 

I try to always use the same foot to clip in and out at stops, when I am unsure of what cars or others around me do I try to unclip, leaving my foot on the pedal< Then deal with the situation

 

When restarting, pedal a few times first before you try and clip in, it is much more stable to clip in with a head of steam

Bottom line you will fall over at least once. we all do, and it will not be our last time either, the good news is you will fall at a stop so it will just be a tip over kinda thing

 

Good luck on the ride

 

There are some good beginner training rides out there, Monday night CCC rides leaves from lincoln and california at 6:30 pm, 30 miles or so, moderate pace and it will teach you how to ride in a paceline and in a group.

Thank you envane for the route suggestions and especially for the map link! I do have the cages for these, as it's a new bike for me overall. I like the idea of having fun and just caging it, maybe it's a matter of trying one small new thing at a time for positive reinforcement... especially when learning a new task! Again, many thanks and if you have more ride suggestions please post away! 

envane x said:
The Lakefront Path early in the morning is a good place to ride but otherwise you need to get out of Chicago to aquire miles. There are lots of good routes in the north burbs. One option is to ride Milwaukee or Elston to Milwaukee/Devon and take the North Branch Trail from there. This is a route similar to what many people do:

http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/Standard-North-Ride

If you are "training" for this year's MS Tour de Farms, as in, the one a few weeks from now, I would ditch the clipless and just have fun.
Oops Doty! Sorry it was right before I hit the hay!

keala.akiko said:
Thank you Dotty for your great advice! Was there a certain area of Chicago you think is easier to ride? By Wicker it's super busy and a little intimidating. Again, thank you so much for the well-wishes! Hurrah for positive reinforcement!
I'm one of the ones he taught!

Michael A said:

I have taught several people to ride with clipless pedals. I take them to an empty parking lot and have them do circles, practicing stopping and clipping in and out

 

I then have them pass close to me, sometimes I make them stop, other times pass on by. The only way is to practice until it becomes second nature.

 

I try to always use the same foot to clip in and out at stops, when I am unsure of what cars or others around me do I try to unclip, leaving my foot on the pedal< Then deal with the situation

 

When restarting, pedal a few times first before you try and clip in, it is much more stable to clip in with a head of steam

Bottom line you will fall over at least once. we all do, and it will not be our last time either, the good news is you will fall at a stop so it will just be a tip over kinda thing

 

Good luck on the ride

 

There are some good beginner training rides out there, Monday night CCC rides leaves from lincoln and california at 6:30 pm, 30 miles or so, moderate pace and it will teach you how to ride in a paceline and in a group.

michaels tips are right on. In addition...you can practice on grass (just watch out for holes, etc.) as long as it is hard (read: not today or after a rainshower). the reason behind this is if you fall...you are less

likely to get road rash.  basically with clipless the thinking is ...just practice. a lot. and also ... when you approach a stoplight / intersection, etc. remind yourself to clip out (remove the shoe(cleat) from the pedal **in advance**, since many times when you roll up to a car waiting at the light, etc. you may get distracted and forget to unclip, and then you fall down with a (usually) large audience witnessing you.

 

DB

Buy or borrow a bike trainer and you can practice indoors. Try practicing popping in and out of the pedal without looking down at your feet once you get the hang of it. Like others have said, clip out before you reach your stop.
I fell a couple of times, but the more you do it the easier it gets.  Your brain eventually knows what to do, but don't be discouraged if you fall...even in front of people :))

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