Wednesday, November 13, 2013

When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car. (Will Rogers)

We have flat pedals on our sleek carbon fiber road bikes. Yeah, you read that right. Flat pedals. I say this up front so those of you who ride similar bikes have a little time to just get over it. (For those of you who aren't immersed in the arcane rituals and protocols of cycling, road bikes normally have pedals that "clip" onto your bike shoes. Just to be confusing, they're called "clipless" pedals. Their purpose is to make pedaling more efficient.)

This past week one of Al's pedals developed an embarrassing, irritating, evil squeak. The usual fixes were ineffective. We decided to send it to pedal heaven. We headed to the bike shop for new pedals.

The guy at the bike shop eyed our flat pedals with thinly veiled distaste. I give him high marks for keeping his face composed as he asked us what we were interested in as replacements. We explained that we wanted new flat pedals, as light as possible, and they had to be grippy. He spent some time pawing through inventory. Finally he produced a comical pair. Lightweight, yes. With a HUGE platform surface which he seriously proclaimed would work just dandy for us. We pointed out (as politely as possible) that they would be extremely slippery when wet since they had no studs or grip edges.

Rather than watch him muddle about, we suggested a pair we had seen on a previous visit to the store. They'd been sitting on a shelf next to another item we'd looked at. We hadn't pulled them out, but they looked good. Lots of studs for grip. Compact size for a flat pedal. He unlocked the case and hauled them out for us to check. Perfect.

We used to use clipless pedals. They were great. Unfortunately, I have wonky foot/ankle joints. You've heard people talk about joints "giving way" or "locking up"? When you have a wonky joint, this really does happen. I had some heart-stopping adrenaline-enhanced moments brought about by needing to make emergency stops in traffic while clipped in.

I finally decided my odds of dying peacefully in my sleep would be greatly enhanced if I gave up clipless pedals. Flat pedals are harder to ride with, but there's a lot less adrenaline fueled screaming.

Besides, these new pedals are damn sexy...