Saturday 22 April 2023

Back on the flats

This might be a bit controversial to some. I'm back using flat pedals. 
A few thoughts:

When I was riding as a kid it wasn't a thing. We all just used the pedals that came with the bike. When I returned to cycling in 2005 I used flats because that was all I knew. Anything else was for club riders; and that wasn't me.

I joined Oxted CC in 2020 and raised some eyebrows with my choice. It wasn't a big deal, only eliciting a few comments about how being clipped in was more efficient. I was able to keep up with people in the groups I joined so maintained the status quo.

Late 2021 I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Link to my change. It was okay, I didn't really notice much of an improvement. Then in early 2022 I crashed and broke my hip. When I started riding again the thought of a fail to unclip incident causing a fall on my left side had me going old school again. Also I had a limited range of motion at first; it wasn't comfortable to clamp my foot in place. A year on I don't think I'll be clipping in anytime soon. Even today the worry of not unclipping causes too much anxiety. It has the potential to spoil a ride.

I did notice that I had altered my technique in the short time I was attached to the bike. So it was making more of a difference than I had thought.

It could also be a potential obstacle for a new rider, I wrote some thoughts here about this subject. Much info about cycling on the internet says you don't use flat pedals if you are a serious rider. My club doesn't hold this view, but some might.

I now commute to the London office by bike and I'd be very anxious if I couldn't get a foot down in an emergency. I know it gets easier over time, but for me I know it would be a struggle. 

I do wear shoes to which cleats can be attached, because the sole is stiffer. I saw a picture of me doing a hill climb in trainers which provided the impetus to investigate alternatives. My foot was curled around the pedal. Less compliance from the shoe increases power transfer. My next pair will be more sporty, with and a firmer base.