This section of my website used to be dedicated to triathlon training, personal race results and certification reviews, like Turbo Kick. I am expanding it to include more generic health & fitness topics. Also, I talk a lot about "D" -- he's my husband (Dave Liu)!

Sunday, January 18, 2004

30-Mile Sunday Ride Report: I'm Using Clipless Pedals!

I've been getting progressively better on the Sunday Rides so I decided to embark on a new challenge this week: CLIPLESS PEDALS! I figure it'd be wise to get used to them while I was still riding a mtb, rather than try to do that while simultaneously trying to handle a road bike.

FYI, helpful instructions on how to remove and install pedals can be found on Jim Langley's bicycle repair webpage, along with other useful information on bicycle maintenance and repair. I'm glad I had a pedal wrench, because one of the pedals was screwed on very tightly, but it eventually came loose once I found the correct angle/lever point.

There were 18 women outside Summit Bicycles to take advantage of the beauoooootiful weather on 1/18/04. We split up into two groups: 6 ladies were ready to tackle the 55-mile ride, while the other 12 of us prepared for the 30-mile loop. Joy led the 30-milers, although I think she roped Sarah into co-leading it with her. Sandra and I fought for the rights to sweep. Sandra won.

I was a little nervous with my clipless pedals, but nowhere near the level of fear and anxiety I used to feel. It was more like excitement. Still, I felt it was only responsible for me to yell, "Stay the heck away from me! This is my first time with clipless pedals!" (not quite true, but close enough). In case people didn't take me seriously, Margaret helpfully added, "She's not joking!"

We took California Ave. --> Tilton --> Crystal Springs and briefly regrouped at the bottom of Polhemus/Crystal Springs. I had a chance to speak to Dita who was doing her first Sunday Ride. I overheard Sandra give Dita encouragement and great advice on how to make it up the hill ahead. Extra kudos to Sandra for schlepping all the way from Davis just for the Sunday Ride.

Unfortunately, Dita experienced chain suck around the first bend. Undeterred, she managed to get her chain back on, get on (up an incline, no less!) and didn't stop again until she reached the top. Great job!

We paused at the top of Crystal Springs where I chatted briefly with another cyclist new to the Sunday Ride: Sarah. Sarah had come with a couple of her friends who wanted to do the 55-mile ride. Since Sarah was riding a hybrid, affectionately named the "Upright Hoover", she thought the 30-mile route would be more appropriate. She was happy to see that Margaret & I were also riding heavy non-road bikes.

While cruising along Canada, I tried to take a drink without stopping. I managed to unhook the mouthpiece of my Camepak from underneath my shoulder strap, but that's as far as I got. My goal is to be able to eat and drink on the bike without stopping.

We breaked at the Bakery and I spoke more with Sarah. I noticed her backpack looked particularly full and heavy. It had a hydration unit and tools (like mine) but weighed twice as much as the bag I was carrying! It was easily 10+lbs. She mentioned that her friends had packed the bag for her, and had put extra food and supplies in it in case she did the 55-mile ride.

For once, the left turn out of the Bakery back onto Woodside and then onto Canada was easy. We made it all the way to the pedestrian footbridge before splitting off into two groups. Joy, Co-Ride-Leader-Sarah, Sandra and Dita took the regular return route, while Susan, Margaret, Upright-Hoover-Sarah and I took the pedestrian walkway.

While going downhill on Polhemus, we saw three deer. Susan reached out her right hand with her palm facing towards them as she passed. I tried shouting "Stay!" and they scampered back up the hill. Oops. I didn't mean to scare them off. But better that they run towards the woodlands then jump onto the roads I guess.

Susan led our splinter group back. She made sure that she never got too far ahead of us, and made a point of waiting at intersections to make sure we went the right way. We took El Cerrito back. It's preferred because by merging onto California Ave. at a point that's closer to Summit Bicycles, you encounter less traffic and less headwind. Here are the directions in case you're interested, since it's not the one on the official turn sheet:

  • Polhemus/Crystal Springs Road (you end up here regardless of whether you return via Ralston or the pedestrian bridge
  • Veer left at El Cerrito. There's a stop sign here but the turn is easy to miss unless you're looking out for it since it subtly forks off to the left.
  • Turn left at San Mateo
  • San Mateo becomes California Ave.
  • Turn left at Burlingame Ave.
  • Summit Bicycles is on your left

We all made it safely back. Not to jinx myself, but I was quite pleased with my clipless pedals debut since I returned unscathed. I'm glad that I made the transition when I did -- after taking the excellent Basic Bike Clinic in November, I gave myself a couple of Sunday Rides to ride with regular pedals and improve my basic bike handling skills first.

I hope to see y'all next Sunday... especially those of you who just attended the basic bike clinic!

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