I’m pretty sure I’m the only mountain biker I’ve seen in years who still uses baskets (otherwise known as toe clips). You’d think that this observation alone would have been enough to get me to switch to clipless pedals. Nope. There was NO WAY I was going to hook myself to my pedals. What if I couldn’t get my foot out? I’ve seen it happen to others; it’s not pretty. I really didn’t want to be the girl lying sideways in the trail, still straddling her bike, still hooked by her feet to those tiny metal clips, still wishing she hadn’t entrusted her life to them. It just seemed so… dangerous.
Oh, and I’m stubborn, resistant to change, a tight wad, and possibly a little overly sentimental. I’d already traded my cutoffs for bike shorts. My tevas for shoes (albeit New Balance sneakers). My bandana for a helmet. My Gary Fisher for my Cannondale. My baskets were the last piece of the 90’s I had left!
Still. When a rep from Pearl Izumi contacted me about reviewing some gear on my blog I knew in an instant what I had to do. The time had come. It was time to join the legions of mountain bikers around the world and go clipless. It was time to face my fears.
I got my Elite II’s in the mail a few months ago. I was immediately intimidated. They sat on the living room floor where I could see them every day. I’d vacuum around them, tell myself that tomorrow was the day… I biked all summer with my baskets, assuring myself that each ride was the last. “I’ll try them on the next ride” I’d tell Joe. Pretty soon I started wondering if I should just send them back.
Then one day, for no reason other than that it was Tuesday, I went for it.
Feeling a little like my son about a year ago, I started in the backyard. Joe held up my bike while I practiced clipping my shoes in and out of the “new” $5 pedals we scored at the used bike shop. Joe would make some adjustments. Then in. Out. In. Out. Next I moved to the driveway. Back and forth, in and out. Then on to the street. In. Out. In. Out. Slam on my brakes. Out. Up a hill. In. Off the curb. Out. Bunny hop. In. I was ready to hit the dirt.
I actually got comfortable with the new set-up quicker than I thought! Dare I say I even liked them that very first ride? Yes. I dare. And I did. I was so focused on how hard it was going to be to get my feet off the pedals, I never thought about how EASY it would be to get my feet back on. It’s much more natural than trying to aim your feet back into baskets. And that fear of not getting my feet un-clipped in time? It’s not so bad if you adjust your tension accordingly. I can’t say I’m 100% comfortable yet, but give me a few more rides and possibly a Good Humbling (as I hear it’s inevitable) and I’ll be set.
One thing I both like and don’t like is the stiffness of the shoes. While the stiffness definitely makes it so you can get more power on the uphill, it just seems like having the top be so stiff is overkill. I think the X-Alp (also by Pearl Izumi) at least looks like it would be more comfortable in that regard. But, having never tried this model, perhaps there is a reason they’re 1/2 the price?
Overall I’m glad I finally broke down and joined the crowd. Besides, I did something that made me totally nervous… and the shoes are no longer sitting on the living room floor.
Thanks Pearl Izumi.
Anyone else been through this? Any additional advice?