Last spring I bought my first road bike - mostly because of a stress fracture that was keeping me from running. Anyway, shortly after the purchase I was encouraged to go to clipless pedals by some biker-savy friends. It was a good choice - it's helped a lot - not that I don't still have work to do - but it really has helped a lot.
So, cut to this year - I've been dying to get back on the mountain bike and hit the trails so I'll be better prepared for Adventure Racing this season. Then, cut to yesterday - first really beautiful day of the year - the weather was awesome so I talked the main man into going to the trails with me to work on my technique. (Not that it was twisting his arm or anything - he loves the trails - I'm sure he'd just prefer to hit them hard rather than 'babysit', but he humors me!! ;-)).
He gets off before me though so the plan was just to meet there, but a 1/2 hour after he leaves I get a call reminding me his shoes are in my car - so a new plan emerges - he will work on his bike till I get there then we hit the trails together - no worries. Well, the part of this plan he didn't tell me was he was going to slap some clipless pedals on my mountain bike?!? I know I've talked about doing it, but I wasn't thinking I would try it first time out this year. Ahhhh, but what better way to start - right? ;-) Seriously it went well - he really showed me how much more power I have going up hills with clipless. I'm still a little shaky getting in/out, but I only fell twice - not bad for me! We tried a climb at the beginning - I hit a root 1/2 way up and fell, but went back and tried it again and made it! He wanted me to start at it mid-way up the hill by clipping in and holding onto a tree, but I just couldn't - that will be next time!! The rest of the trip was on pretty smooth, flat single track - quite a few turns and a few narrow trees, but nothing terrible so we were able to hit it pretty hard. We mostly worked on me NOT using my breaks - I would say I just need to remove them, but he'd take me up on that and I'm just not quite ready!
So, after the first session my top 3 lessons I'm taking are:
1. Keep spinning no matter what
2. Stand and put pedals horizonal when going down nasty rough hills (the only time I don't have to be spinning)
3. Don't use the breaks!!
I know there will be more lessons to learn, but those are it for now - oh, those and don't unclip to stop - just grab a tree - hopefully that will help with my balance!
I just have to remember my moto - It doesn't hurt that bad to fall!!! :-)