Thursday, February 11, 2010

Different Strokes

When piecing together my road bike, I had to use the tools and components I had lying around or could save enough to purchase. Unlike cyclists who have been at this for years and have a mass, if not a garage full, of parts…(or the added discount of a shop) I have a small pile that fits into my tool box that I can carry (insert sigh here). Oh…and I pay RETAIL. When it came time to put pedals on, I slapped on an old pair of Shimano SPD’s left over from my mountain bike. At the time it made sense…they were lying around, I had a spare set of cleats…so why not? HOWEVER, the time has come for a new transition…new pedals…a new system…more learning….more change.

As awkward and backwards as it sounds, I fell in love with the SPD pedals. On the mountain bike, I started with a pair of Crank Brothers and they were acceptable pedals except in a quick hurry my ankles lacked the wrenching dexterity to unclip when I found myself facing an oncoming tree (BAD TREE!). I earned a few gashes, scabs and bruises from these episodes but chalked that up to learning until I came upon other pedal systems. I started using the SPD’s and found them easier to maneuver for my small frame. So, of course, I put a pair on the road bike and yes, I took a lot of grief for the WRONG pedals on the bike. I felt like that kid whose parents packed the sardine sandwich for lunch while everyone else had peanut butter and jelly. Nobody wants to sit next to the kid with the sardine sandwich. I have a hand gesture to those that kept stopping me to insist I upgrade to better, more acclimated road pedals…and yes, it only involves one finger.

My argument always was “it works for me”. I put in 150+ miles a week and completed a century with those pedals. They felt comfortable and I did not feel the need to succumb to this change based on some near stranger’s comments in my local park. I had them worn in “just right”…I could stand out of the saddle for long periods of time without any worry or concern of face planting. In other words, my relationship with the SPD’s was kosher. We coexisted together without much clashing. Now, when someone sat me down to explain how the pedals affect your efficiency and skill…then I started understanding why I had to part with my SPD’s and end our near perfect relationship.

It sounds nerdy but the basis of my goals lies in the simplistic pursuit to be a better cyclist with each passing year. I can set goals to race, complete tours, increase my speed, or any other variable I choose but each task leads to me being a better, more accomplished cyclist. In doing so, I have to learn everything I can on and off the bike. This is includes the valuable lesson of pedals, their design, and why my SPD’s HAVE to come off.

With that said, my bike is awaiting some time with a pedal wrench to unlock my SPD’s and put on a new set of Speedplays which I am being told I will like although they will feel ‘different.’ I need not explain what that word does to someone who is a diligent task master addicted to routine and all things simplistic. My experience with ‘different’ has always yielded positive results and I suspect this time will be no different. I just wonder what’s next?

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