This year Boo wanted to give cyclocross a good shot, mainly because she loves getting covered in mud. Stratford Junior CC offered weekly coaching and added an extra coaching session for those, like Boo, who wanted to participate in races. All this cyclocross placed a muddy burden on her trainers so she took to riding in football boots as the pimples gave her a little grip when running up hills. She quickly realised that the firm sole of the football boot helped her when cycling on longer tandem rides but she was unconvinced about progressing to clipless pedals (after observing the tipping problems faced by her fellow juniors who had made the leap to cleats on their cycle shoes).
Double Trouble (our Dawes Galaxy Twin) came with double-sided pedals, a flat side to use with trainers or other footwear and a cleat-ready side, and we secured Boo her first pair of cycle shoes. So this weekend we visited John Atkins Cycles and purchased a pair of Shimano cleats for her.
Of course that meant she had to test them!
The advantage for Boo of learning to clip in and out of her pedals on the tandem is that all she only has to focus on her feet, as Mark can manage the balance and steering (he’s been using cleats for about three Boo lifetimes!)
She quickly mastered releasing her feet from the pedals (which could be useful when windy days destabilise their balance) but it took a few circuits to establish that her optimum ‘feet-in’ position is at the bottom of the pedal circuit. This seems to require a lot of looking down at first.
Thankfully, it did not take long for her to move from concern about her abilities to manoeuvre the cleats, to refusal to wear anything else on her feet!
In case you are wondering why she is going through the effort of learning to use clipless pedals; the advantages of connecting foot and pedal are that you can drag your foot through the bottom of the pedal stroke and can generate extra power by pulling up with the upward leg making you a more efficient cyclist. I can’t think of a teenage or adult racer who doesn’t use them.
Boo explained that this means she will be able to help more on the uphill stretches. They are out for a ride this morning so we’ll find out soon if the difference is noticeable. It might take a little longer before she is ready to try them on her own bike.