I was eager to take my new road bike out onto the streets of Houston for an inaugural ride. However there was something I had to learn to do before I went out on the road. My hybrid bike had a pair of these . . .
My new road bike came with a pair of these . . .
Clipless pedals were new to me. James F. had recommended these Speedplay Zero pedals because they are dual-sided. That would save me from having to flip the pedals around to the ‘right’ side in order to clip in. I just had to align the cleats on the bottoms of my Sidi Genius 5-Pro Mega cycling shoes with the pedals and push down. An audible click would signify that the cleats were locked to the pedals. Clipping out of the pedals seemed easy enough to do too. Rotating my heels outward would release the cleats from the pedals.
I practiced using my clipless pedals in the safety of the parking area in my apartment building. I pushed one foot down on the pedal, heard a click and felt the cleat engage. I turned the crank to get the bike moving. I put my other foot on the opposite pedal and pushed down. Another click and I was clipped in. As I circled the parking lot I mentally rehearsed the action to release my cleats from my pedals. Rotate heels outward. Rotate heels outward. I unclipped, came to a stop and put my feet on the ground. Success! I repeated the process of clipping in and out or my pedals a dozen times. Each time without mishap. I was ready for the road.
My apartment building had a multi-story car park. I was on the third floor. I clipped in to my pedals and set off. I successfully negotiated the turns and ramps down to the ground floor. I rolled through the car park exit and made the right-turn onto Travis Street. As I approached the intersection with Walker Street the traffic light turned red. I squeezed my brakes and lifted my right heel. My cleat did not disengage from the pedal. Unclipping had gone so well just minutes earlier. I lifted my right heel again. My cleat did not disengage. Why wasn’t this working? I was two yards from the intersection. The light was still red. Panic rose in my chest. I yanked my heel up. And toppled over onto the street. To the amusement of the six or seven people at this bus stop.
Perhaps it was embarrassment that made the lesson stick. ROTATE your heels, not lift.