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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The MS ride is great. I'm excited to know you're doing it. I did it 2x and would do it again.

I just took my road bike with sneakers. I haven't graduated to a clipless system, but my riding partner was riding clipless. She fell 2x on our training rides. I think falling down is part of learning how to do it, unfortunately. The good news is, you're usually stopped and fairly close to the ground.


I was trying to ride with tightened toe straps and couldn't get out. There's no hope for me, I'm sure. Good luck and have fun!

Thank you - that's a great tip and I practiced that technique last night!

milesperhour said:
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.
Aw thanks Julie! I have been taking all the suggestions to heart and practicing indoors with the rain yesterday and hope to get in contact with Michael for practicing! Now my gears won't shift properly though - so sigh. It's been quite the learning curve!

If you're comfortable in your shoes now, don't go to clipless. Comfort is king on long rides. Make sure you have good gloves that won't cut off circulation, shorts that wont chafe, and good fitting shoes, and sun protection. You just need to concentrate on staying on your bike for 8-10 hours. Clipless wont help you do that.



1. Go ride up north on Sheridan Road north of Chicago. Ride to Highland Park. Or even the lakefront path.


2. Best clipless pedals for me (suggested by a bike messenger) are the Time Mountain pedals. Cheap and much easier to use than Shimano SPD. Brass cleats last a decent amount of time.  Also, a lot of float for your knees.


3. You can ride "unclipped" in clipless pedals. When you start out, ride unclipped and only clip in when you get to where you can ride some distance clipped in. Well before you get to your stop, red light, whatever, unclip, especially when in traffic. This is easier in mountain shoes with rubber bottoms than with road shoes with their slick bottoms. (Just another reason I never wear my road shoes!)


For me the key to transition to street riding in an urban area was uncliping long before I needed to. I rode in a group the other day and noticed that everyone unclipped pretty late by my way of thinking. To each his own, of course, but if you get in the habit of unclipped long before you need to, you won't forget. Same on startup: ride a short distance unclipped and then clip in. It's more stable that way. Also, most stops, you can unclip only one foot but you may want to mix it up as you'll likely wear one cleat more than the other and have to change it more frequently.







My advice to you is. Start out not moving and try to get in your clips with out moving just stand and get in and out several times. do this on both feet. on efoot on the ground and the other try's to get into the



Now when you start out after this, clip on side and then get up on your bike and clip the other side.

If you dont have enougn momenum just pedal as if you dont have clips and you pedal may fins it cleat on it own.


Next practice getting out of cleats. You need to plan ahead, unitl you are familiar with your awn abilities.

Best thing is dont panic. this makes it worse. If you have a trainer at home try this method first, then take to the streets. may you might want to try at a park your first time out.


Also if you are not comfy right now, there may be a platform you can clip onto your pedals  to ride your bike like you have regular pedals.


Good Luck!



Our Gang Bicycle Club

New Bike in NE ILLinois

and now on the Chain link!


Tour de Farms was my first-ever century, too, and I didn't train much beforehand. It was great- the support staff run really fantastic rest stops, and the motorcycle guides who clear traffic for you are friendly and encouraging. You'll have a great time!


Thanks for the heads up Julie - and congratulations on your new role! Thank you for all your contributions!

Julie Hochstadter said:
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.

I just breathed a HUGE sigh of relief for the first time. I wasn't sure what to expect and knew I just was excited to learn something I've always wanted to do, while making a difference for MS research was an extra bonus. Thank you so much and happy trails!

emeegee said:

Tour de Farms was my first-ever century, too, and I didn't train much beforehand. It was great- the support staff run really fantastic rest stops, and the motorcycle guides who clear traffic for you are friendly and encouraging. You'll have a great time!


You are probably going to really like this ride. Just as emeegee said--the support is excellent. This was my first century ride, too. I was slow and didn't train for it except by riding everywhere I could from March-June. It was 95º that year, and I still thought it was pleasant and fun. 


At the lunchstop while a bunch of us ladies were powdering our noses in the restroom, a guide from the motorcycle platoon personally thanked us all for riding. She had tears in her eyes when she was standing there talking to us. She had just been diagnosed with MS two weeks before that year's ride.


The route is lovely, too. I felt very removed from the city and enjoyed that. There are very few hills which is a bonus for the less prepared.


Have a good time.

Thank you everyone for your feedback and support. I felt more confident in taking on these large cycling skills and am feeling more confident about everything.

To follow up: yesterday I decided to go for it.

Nothing says excited and love more than when you rush to come home, lace up and roll out the door; helmet in hand. A friend was there for support, and in Wicker Park by the entrance, I rolled my first clipless rotations!

All the tips came in super handy. First, making sure the clips themselves are on the loosest setting. Check. Being in lowest gear,or as I put it granny gear, for better momentum. Check. Riding at first unclipped in, THEN when feeling comfortable, clipping in. Check. And then practicing. Check.

When I felt comfortable, we rode - in Chicago traffic (wowwww!) to the lakefront and went for a total 40 miles!! Sure in traffic I had heart stopping moments. BUT the advice to clip out WELL BEFORE you come to a stop (because otherwise you forget you are clipped in) was definitely followed after I had a little close call at an underpass. Luckily no falling and I caught it just in time!

Overall wow. It felt so empowering! Nothing compares to being on a bicycle. The speed. The views. The experience overall. And I have to say, clipless DO make a difference. Better use of physics and energy, so I can maximize my other energy ... for grinning ear-to-ear! Thank you to all who posted and please keep up the encouragement to all newbies. Hopefully I'll meet you all sometime soon! Many thanks everyone - Love and Aloha to you all.

Once you feel confident you probably want to tighten the tension-- clipping out unexpectedly could be dangerous.  Although this could vary greatly by system (did I miss where it was mentioned what system you're using?)


Here's my random clipless tip:  As you roll up to Chicago intersections, especially side streets, be aware that there can be a significant roll-off in the road surface towards the gutter and be sure to compensate balance-wise.



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