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Cycling shoes and clipless pedals allow your feet to be secured into the pedals, so your pedaling motion can utilize both the downward push of your quads and the upward pull of your hamstring.
Like all gear, there are a variety of options to choose from.
Here’s some advice on getting started with cycling shoes…
It will take some getting used to.
Some people feel a little nervous by having their feet securely fastened into the pedals, and fear they may not be able to pull out, so they will fall over. There’s bad news and good news with this.
The bad news is that it’s likely as you’re getting familiar with using “clipless pedals” (or at some point in your cycling career) that you will fall over. It happens to the best of them, and virtually every triathlete has their “falling over” story. Think of it as part of your triathlete initiation.
The good news is the main thing that will be injured from falling over will be your pride. Because you are coming to a stop, falling over probably won’t cause any injury since it only involves the distance from you to the ground, which isn’t far.
I fell over at a 4-way-stop because a car went out of turn. I had to come to a sudden stop, and couldn’t click out in time. The main thing was feeling like an idiot without everyone seeing me go down. Here’s what it looks like.
Try out clipless pedals in a safe location.
If you wanted to, you could begin getting used to the feel of your cycling shoes by using them on an indoor spin bike. My local YMCA has a room with spin bikes, and they offer spin classes. Most pedals on spin bikes have the option of using cycling shoes.
Practice makes perfect.
Take the time to practice, and become comfortable and confident with your clipless pedals before you go for long road rides on your bike. For example, bike around in a parking lot or your neighborhood until you get the hang of it. Practice stopping and clicking out.
Here are lots of clever ways to practice using clipless pedals — both indoors and out!
The best advice I can give you as a newcomer is to simply be alert. If you know you are going to be coming to a stop, pull BOTH feet out one at a time about 10-15 feet before you actually have to stop, and glide to your stop. Don’t wait to the very last second to click out.
Start out with your pedal in the correct position.
In terms of starting up again after a stop, click in one pedal at the bottom of the cycling rotation. Then position that petal near the top of the rotation so you have the leverage to give a good push. Push into a glide, and then click in the next pedal, and you’re good to go. It’s always easier to click in on a flat or gradual downhill section of road as opposed to an uphill slope.
More About Clipless Pedals
How To Replace Pedals (video)
I’m over 40 years old, but I don’t give up easily. It wasn’t too long ago that I was exploring the idea of doing my first triathlon. If I can do it, you can too! I'm proof that with a little determination and training, you can get a great deal of fulfillment participating in marathons, triathlons… even ultramarathons.