In my ongoing efforts to get the most out of my legs and Lev Davidovitch, yesterday I fitted him with SPD pedals and my cycling shoes with SPD cleats. (The cleats and pedals come as a set.) I opted for a set of pedals that have SPD bindings on one side and are flat on the other, in the belief that I needed to retain the option of having one foot not ‘trapped’.
It’s recommended UK cycling practice, when stopped, to have the left leg on the ground so that you’re normally leaning away from traffic. I believe this also facilitates seeing a bit further behind you when looking over your right shoulder – again recommended practice for the UK. So I assumed I’d keep my right foot attached to Lev and use the flat side of Lev’s new left pedal.
Here’s some observations:
- During a quick trip where I didn’t clip in at all, I missed the positioning and power that Lev’s ‘cages’ (pedals with toe-clips and straps) provided.
- Today, on a ride to Little France and back, I think the SPDs – when both were in use – added a couple of mph. I know that I took 35 minutes to get there and 30 minutes to get back (cyclemeter map), when I’d normally allow 40 to 45 minutes. However, the weather – absence of wind for most of these journeys – may well have been a bigger factor than the different pedals.
- Stopping involves remembering to drop a couple of gears and twisting my left foot to detach. This action is still cerebral rather than cerebellar but should become ‘unthought’ with practice.
- Keeping my right foot trapped was easy. However, it took up to 60 seconds of checking Lev’s left pedal was the right way up and then fumbling my left foot into position to become fully attached to Lev. So in stretches where there are frequent traffic lights (e.g. Cameron Toll roundabout, Lothian Road, West End), attaching may not be worthwhile.
- ‘Hang-time’ (where I’ve pulled up behind a queue of vehicles behind a traffic-light which has just turned green, and am trying not to put my foot down and hence lose all momentum) can feel hairy as I mentally juggle whether to detach from the left pedal (and thus lose more while fumbling to re-attach) or not (and thus risk falling over).
- I need to carry alternative footwear. While it is possible to walk with the SPD cleats attached to my shoes, they do hit the ground and could damage sensive surfaces. Also, they make me walk even further back on my heels, and I’ve already worn away a lot of the sole on the heels of these shoes.
So while the SPDs don’t feel natural yet, I think they will be beneficial.