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Today's skill-testing question

When riding with clipless pedals, can you safely unclip with either foot first? If not, that's an important skill you probably want to acquire, as I learned yesterday.

A little more than halfway into Sunday's 35-mile Sunnyvale training ride, I began to notice that my right pedal stroke was feeling funny. After a couple minutes of this, I decided that I'd try to unclip and reclip to see if that took care of the problem. One problem, though -- when I went to unclip, I couldn't! If you're in motion and can't unclip, it usually doesn't end well.

Fortunately, I kept my cool and unclipped with my other foot. Doing so while in motion was more difficult than I expected, but I did so without incident. I looked for a place to stop where I could lean against something because, as I suspected, even after I stopped, it was darned difficult to unclip the trapped foot. The culprit was a missing bolt, and that had done a good job of getting the cleat lodged in the pedal. (I use SPD cleats.)

Had I done everything properly at the time, I would have slowed before attempting to unclip, and I would have called out to the riders around me to alert them of my possible problem. As it was, nobody else knew I had a problem until after I'd steered the bike right up against a convenient fence for me to lean on. Better to let others know that something bad might happen than to not warn them and be responsible for a crash.

With careful clipping and unclipping and periodically tightening the one remaining bolt, I was able to safely finish my ride.

(Oh, and make sure your cleats are tightly fastened, too.)

1 comment:

Andrew said...

I think you did yell that you were going to stop as you had a problem (as best as I could hear from behind you).

I did have this happen to me once. As my shoes have velcro, I took my foot out so that I could assess the problem from a better vantage point. At that time, I actually had a screw fall out from my SPD cleat.

That lead me to buy a cheap ($40) torque wrench from a national store known for tools, find my shoe specs, and realize that they recommended 6lbs of torque on the cleat screws. 6lbs is a fair amount of torque.

The torque wrench also comes in handy for multiple other uses with carbon frames.

A socket-based Allen wrench can do the trick. I don't think the multi-tool Allen wrenches are good for non-road repairs.

If I remember, or if I get prodded, I'll bring my sockets and torque wrench next ride I do.