Bicycle training

It’s weird, isn’t it, how life doesn’t pan out as you’d expect?

I mean, it’s traditionally a parent’s responsibility to teach their kids to walk, climb, swim, bike.

But just recently it seems that when parents reach a certain age, it’s  the kids that go into teaching mode.

It’s often the case with computers and technology that the kids are likely to know more about downloading music, networking and Skype than you are – until they let you into their world of new technology.

And now it seems it’s the case with cycling.  I still remember those uncertain, wobbly times when the stabilisers came off the boys’ little bicycles and they were supposed to learn to ride on two wheels;  they were back-breaking.

The eldest took longer – over two days of little sessions with him cycling and me steadying things up at the back until he was ready to wibble-wobble off without putting his feet down or falling off.

The other got his balance in about ten minutes, being more willing to pedal off at speed which enabled him to stay upright more easily. It was disconcerting, actually, releasing him and watching him ride, concentrating and so thrilled with the sensation of actually cycling on two wheels that he continued down a long, long path, forgot all about his brakes and disappeared into a hedge.  Fortunately, he was a robust little chap and happily got back on, had a push-off and he was away again.

Took my Trek down to Mud Dock for a post-sales check and service and asked them to replace the toeclips (they were the rubbish bit of the bit – floppy cheap plastic which didn’t offer any reliable shoe-insertion opportunities. I suppose Trek figured that any rider worth his/her salt would replace them with clipped pedals immediately).

I had a feeling I’d get the hard sell talk about “Oh why not try cleats?  They’re much more energy-efficient,  you get the energy of the entire circular pedal stroke.  They’re so easy to clip into and out of these days.”

And yes, I’d heard they’re even good for your knees if they are set up correctly because they keep the foot and leg in the correct position for pedaling.

“Don’t know how you ride with toeclips. Couldn’t manage those myself,” said the young workshop guy, shaking his head as though I was riding with my feet in jugs of custard.

He does have a point. In fact all his points are perfectly valid.  Shoes clipped into pedals *are* better and more efficient, although more costly because you have to buy the pedals and the shoes, which came out at around £200 last time son no 2 had some.

But there is a slight downside.  You don’t just get them fitted, slip the shoes on to the cleats and pedal off… well you might, but the first time you have to stop, the chances are you won’t be able to do the neat twisty little manoeuvre to detach your foot from the pedal in time and you will crash to the floor on your left hip, bike still attached to feet.

It’s an inelegant and painful downfall which I witnesses several times when my boys were getting used to similar kinds of pedals on their mountain bikes.  There was no doubt in my mind that the same thing would happen to me but much more often before I got “the knack.”

“I don’t want those sort of pedals” I told the workshop guy. “I will fall over. It will hurt.”

“We can adjust them so they are really easy to get out of …” he said.

“I taught my dad to use them riding next to a childrens’ play area – one of those with lots of bark chippings, so when he fell, he had a soft landing.”

Sweet.   I rest my case.  I have new toeclips.


About janh1

Part-time hedonist.
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10 Responses to Bicycle training

  1. IsobelandCat says:

    This is much too technical for me at this time of day when I am normally no where near a computer.
    I’ll need some pix.
    Love the story about son number two and the hedge.

    • janh1 says:

      I’ll see if I can find a pic. Basically the shoes have metal clips fitted into the sole,which clip into the little pedals (about half the size of flat pedals). Clipping in can be tricky but it’s not the worst part. The worst part is trying to unclip quickly so that you can put your foot down when you stop expectedly (at traffic lights) or unexpectedly. It demands a nifty little flick of the heel. But if you’re a bit slow with that you tend to keel over and hit the ground, bike still attached. It’s not pleasant.

  2. valzone says:

    Hi Jan, as you may remember, I prefer my bike to have 4 wheels, and an engine. I wish I could ride a bike, or at least brave enough to get out on the road, or should I say pavement, that’s where most of them ride these days, its certainly open access for the posties round here 🙂
    My Son rides his bike everywhere, and benefits from better health and weight loss.
    Great post Jan.

  3. janh1 says:

    Hi Val. Ah the old pavement v road thing. I can quite understand cyclists who ride on pavements – some of them are shared use anyway these days but ordinary pavements are too narrow for both.

    There were some roadworks on the way to work recently with lights. So being a commuter on the road, I stopped behind the cars ( drivers were too close to the kerb to let me by) but some cyclists zipped by the lot of us on the pavement. I felt a real idiot stuck there like a lemon waiting for the lights but I didn’t join them because it was just wrong. There were mothers pushing buggies and little old ladies waiting at the bus stop – there wasn’t really enough room for them *and* cyclists on an ordinary-sized pavement.

    Sounds like your boy might enjoy cycling as much as me! 🙂

  4. Sophiescott196 says:

    Have you selected your childrens playground yet? It is a knack (as I understand it) but hopefully you’re a natural 😀

    • janh1 says:

      I do need a soft play area – a trail lined with outsize marshmallows. Now there’s an idea. When I fell, I would fall into the soft billowy and quite tasty embrace of the marshmallow.

  5. Darrel Kirby says:

    I thought about cleats, but with my irregular cycling I’d never get the hang of it. I haven’t got the hang of toe clips yet to be honest.

  6. janh1 says:

    🙂 “Irregular cycling” conjures up some bizarre images here. I don’t think they are worth the pain. I wish they would just make magnetic clips so your shoe is attracted powerfully to the right place on the pedal using an electro-magnet and you had a button on the handlebar to switch it off when you wanted to unclip. Just needs an engineer to invent it, that’s all!

    • Darrel Kirby says:

      Patent that idea!
      I have a similar idea for holding glasses on – small implant on the bridge of your nose and you’re sorted. With all of the peircings available these days you might as well have one that’s useful!

      • janh1 says:

        True but it would be very uncool, wouldn’t it, asking for spectacles securement piercing? They’d be dying to sell you a tongue stud or an eyebrow ring! 🙂

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