SPD pedal advice

newmoon22 Posts: 3
edited September 2013 in Road beginners
Hi. First post and new to road cycling.
I know from numerous posts everywhere I'm not the first to be scared by clipless pedals but ...
I'm 61 and just started road cycling after doing nearly a year of spinning in the gym.
I hadn't been on a real bike for six years before a few weeks ago and then it was mountain biking for a year or so. Before that I probably hadn't ridden a bike for twenty years, and then not that much.
I started off quite well this time but have gradually got more and more neurotic!
First mistake with clipless was I avoided a pothole and landed sideways on to a wall, getting quite a gash on my hand (blood everywhere!).
A couple of weeks later I tried starting up a hill, didn't get momentum or my right foot out of the clip and landed on the floor. A few scratches but luckily it was early morning and nobody noticed me! I carried on riding and did 34 miles on that ride, so progress.
Then this weekend I was stupid enough to go out on the road on a bank holiday weekend, and two cars in particular overtaking me on a narrow road really scared the life out of me, so by this stage I was getting quite neurotic.
The next day I decided to go on the lane outside my house and try unclipping and getting that worry out of the way. Somehow I managed to get my foot stuck again and down I went, hitting another wall on the way, so now have a ten inch gash in my arm and elbow bandaged up! I've effectively scared myself stupid.
Prior to all this I haven't been used to falling since I was a child. I'm not enjoying it.
So what to do.
First thing I'll start spinning again whilst my arm heals.
Trying to rationalise it I think I can possibly get over the traffic neurosis and deal with that. Maybe part of the problem is I'm really deaf and don't hear cars coming up behind me until too late, even if I'm glancing over my shoulder every ten seconds or so. When I do know they're there I pull over if necessary.
The pedals are a different matter. I could go unclipped but don't think that's a long term solution and am at a loss to know why I've gradually got so stressed over them and am finding them so difficult. I'll try and slacken the tension as much as possible and may even change to a better pedal (the ones I have are inexpensive Wellgo ones) to see if that helps.
But does anyone have any other suggestions please?
If you think I should stick to spinning and walking say so - I won't be offended!


  • gethinceri
    gethinceri Posts: 1,517
    I use the Wellgo ones too, slacken them off if you can so you can clip in and out quicker. Keep at it, you'll get the knack of it soon. I fell off using mine when I stopped suddenly and the rear wheel came off the ground causing me to lose my balance.
    Then I got hit by a lorry as I was lying in the road!
  • Barteos
    Barteos Posts: 657
    It should be compulsory for roadie beginners to spend certain amount of time time riding a mountain bike in order to learn bike handling skills and how to use clipless pedals. :wink:
  • First things first - doing a spinning class is not the same as riding a bike on a public road.

    I would suggest heading for quiet roads to develop your bike/road skills. Stick at it,perhaps join a club or hook up with some folk that you could learn from.
  • wytco0
    wytco0 Posts: 79
    HI Newmoon22, well I was in a similar position to you, I am a little younger (54) and a lot less fit (34m is the longest I have ever done).

    I got a lot of different advice about using pedals but in the end I just decided to use clipless and get used to them, for me they have been a revelation, I feel much more at one with the bike and I am sure I am riding better.

    I was also scare about releasing them and on my first ride I had a bit of a panic and I wrenched my knee a bit, since then however I have not had any problems.

    I am using mountain bike pedals which has clips on one side and which are flat on the other. This has the advantage that the pedals are OK when I am un-clipped and it allows me to take my time getting clipped in.

    In addition I have mine set to the easiest release setting so that they will come off quicker, even with this setting they have been very secure and I have never had an unexpected release.

    I suspect that following your experience so far you have been a bit put off and that this is making you feel negative about your pedals. But I think this is more of a mental issue than a real one, think positively about the pedals and in addition try and think ahead and if you see anything developing around you that worries you un-clip and be prepared.

    And have fun.
  • chrisaonabike
    chrisaonabike Posts: 1,914
    As has been said, get some pedals with flats one side and clips the other - if you're using SPD, Shimano M324 pedals are good - they're what I use and I've been very happy with them for almost a year now.

    Then just use the flats till your injuries have all long healed and you've got over your fear of traffic.

    Then, definitely practise on quiet roads. I didn't even go out on the road at all until I'd clipped in and out about 200 times on each foot, and then I spent an hour going up and down a deserted road doing nothing but riding slowly, clipping in and out each foot.

    But once you're out on the road, you could try clipping in one side only to start with maybe.

    Also, set the clip tension as low as it'll go. Then a panicky yank will still free your foot. That saved me from several 0 mph incidents before clipping out became completely second nature.
    Is the gorilla tired yet?
  • t4tomo
    t4tomo Posts: 2,643
    I would get some flat pedals whilst you are getting used to the traffic, the bike etc etc
    Bianchi Infinito CV
    Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Ultegra
    Brompton S Type
    Carrera Vengeance Ultimate Ltd
    Gary Fisher Aquila '98
    Front half of a Viking Saratoga Tandem
  • andrewjoseph
    andrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    A couple of things: shimano spd pedals can use multi release cleats, these are much easier to get out from, you can even release just by yanking your foot upwards. The downside is that you can accidentally release when pulling up hard. I used them (on my mtb) when I had a crisis of confidence with clipless.

    I use mtb shoes and cleats on my road bike too.

    The other thing is that the best time to clip out is at the bottom of the stroke, this way you use your whole leg to twist and not just you foot or knee
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • Best thing I can say, after all that, is get some flat pedals. Cycling is supposed to be fun!
  • Mikey23
    Mikey23 Posts: 5,306
    I feel your pain! I'm 62 and had exactly the same issues when I went clipless...
    The issues for me were 1) lack of confidence and 2) lack of agility.
    I assumed because I rode a bike a lot as a kid that it would be easy peasy but that did not prove to be the case. I had to get my brain back in gear, work on my road skills and get used to a road bike which is a skittish machine to what I used to have as a teenager. That took the best part of a year

    Secondly, while I still think of myself as a teenager, in most respects I am not. It took me ages to get used to cleating in and out but once I had got it, it became second nature and now I don't think about it... Rather like depressing the clutch when braking.

    So don't worry about speed and don't think about those fast whippets in their 20s. You will ride slower but safer and with more road awareness, but it will take time. Find some safe routes and keep doing till confidence and confidence build up. Hope that helps...
  • PhildB
    PhildB Posts: 73
    You say you don't hear traffic until it's too late... - of course it's not a bad thing to be aware of traffic, but by and large, if they're overtaking you, it's them who need to be more aware of you than vice versa...

    What do you mean "until it's too late" ? Too late for what?

    Are you riding a reasonable distance from the gutter? Ie, making yourself a definite part of "traffic"? When you ride, you need to ride with a certain confidence, authority and not be bullied into the gutter by cars, - riding a little bit of a distance from the curb encourages/forces cars to slow down somewhat, and give you room... - if you ride near the gutter they'll just skim past you closely without slowing or really acknowleging you as part of traffic.

    If I was you I would practice getting in and out of those clips whilst stationary (balancing against a wall) - then find a very quiet carpark and practice some more whilst riding.

    I would choose quiet areas to ride around, and would consider getting a hearing aid.

    I would also research the net about safe road cycling.

    Cheers :)
  • t4tomo
    t4tomo Posts: 2,643
    spds or what ever pedal system to do not make a massive difference to your average speed. maybe 5-10%.

    if you are cycling for leisure pleasure fun health etc which i'm pretty sure our OP is, there is no reason in the world why he should wear SPDs, especially if he is struggling with them. Just put some lightweight flat pedals on and enjoy cycling rather than maiming yourself everytime you ride.
    Bianchi Infinito CV
    Bianchi Via Nirone 7 Ultegra
    Brompton S Type
    Carrera Vengeance Ultimate Ltd
    Gary Fisher Aquila '98
    Front half of a Viking Saratoga Tandem
  • andrewjoseph
    andrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    PhildB, a hearing aid when on the bike would be worse than useless for the most part. You'd get nothing but wind noise masking traffic sounds, and they don't like rain.
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • Tjgoodhew
    Tjgoodhew Posts: 628
    Only advice i can add is sit on the bike holding onto a door frame and just practice clipping in and out.

    It worked for me when i started out.

    Yes i had the odd fall initially but i was confident enough that i had the right action to get out of the pedals.

    Like anything its all about practice and the more you do it the easier it becomes
    Cannondale Caad8
    Canyon Aeroad 8.0

  • diamonddog
    diamonddog Posts: 3,426
    Tjgoodhew wrote:
    Only advice i can add is sit on the bike holding onto a door frame and just practice clipping in and out.

    It worked for me when i started out.

    Yes i had the odd fall initially but i was confident enough that i had the right action to get out of the pedals.

    Like anything its all about practice and the more you do it the easier it becomes

    +1 for this :)
    Take it slow and steady your confidence will build up, don't give up on it. You can always use flat pedals until you feel ready for clipless.
    PS I am not a spring chicken, just act like one :)
  • OK thanks everyone, some really friendly and helpful comments ...even the one asking if I'd thought of trying swimming!
    What spinning has done is given me the confidence that I was fit enough in the knees and stamina wise, to be able to cycle hard for an hour or so and tackle hills. That's all I expected.
    I am fortunate enough to have plenty of quietish roads to choose from, though this comes with a lot of hills (I live in the southern Yorkshire Dales with North of Lancashire on my doorstep also).
    My error last weekend was to choose a route through a mountain biking area and hadn't anticipated the number of public holiday drivers rushing to get their adrenaline fix!
    I don't keep right to the edge of the road, since being advised that keeping away from the gutter is the best way to minimise punctures. So on single track roads there isn't the space to overtake me it scared me that this wasn't sufficient to stop two people doing it at pretty fast speed.
    As far as hearing goes I normally wear two hearing aids (I'm very deaf and will likely have a cochlear implant operation in the next couple of years). It's true you get a lot of wind noise and I have to take them off when raining, but I find them better when riding than none at all.
    I've also been speaking about my fears to an experienced road rider friend who says, basically, bumps and scrapes happen to everyone, you just have to get over it. Keep at it and I'll forget about the pedals eventually. And he's right! He says he has only ever used SPD-SL so doesn't know any different.
    My plan is to change the pedals and also change the cleats to start with to SH56 which are the multi direction release ones.
    Thanks again.
    My wife would like me to have 'DEAF CYCLIST' in big letters on the back of my jersey, so drivers are at least aware. The really fast ones wouldn't have the time to read and react to it though.
  • jaxf
    jaxf Posts: 109
    As you do spinning, why not use your shoes at the gym while you heal; that way you will also get a wee bit of cleating and uncleating practice, as well as keeping fit.
    Also, as you are a bit deaf, have you considered a rear view mirror for your helmet? You can get them for under a tenner.
    We have all had that crisis of confidence and the good news is that we all overcome it with practice.
    Best of luck!
  • andrewjoseph
    andrewjoseph Posts: 2,165
    Re : 'deaf cyclist' on your Jersey. I've thought about it for my daughter and her husband, but my fears are that it would make them more of a target. There are enough morons that try to hit me off, if they thought someone was more vulnerable I dread to think of what they would do.
    Burls Ti Tourer for Tarmac, Saracen aluminium full suss for trails
  • andyh01
    andyh01 Posts: 599
    Can't add much to the pedals I'm on toe clips, but have you thought about getting a bar miror to help see the traffic flow behind wiithout relying so much on hearing and having to turn round so much also not sure if you run a bright rear light that you could have on during the day to increase your visability thinking about the hope district rear light expensive but may help
  • I`m in my mid 60s. On my road bike I tried SPDs, a good start, then Wellgo RC713, better and now Crank brothers egg beaters 1.
    Only adjustable by changing the cleats left to right
    All my pedals make it difficult for the left foot to release ( lack of ankle movement ) but with a little filing round the left cleat I made it acceptable,
    The Egg Beaters are the best for me, four way in and easy out when I want to

  • Perhaps a recumbant?
    All lies and jest..still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest....