I’ve been falling off my bike a fair bit lately, probably too much, which either means I don’t have the skills I imagine I do, or I don’t have them anymore. None of these crashes has been particularly catastrophic. Most of them have been what I’d call “managed exits,” thought the one problem that has eluded proper management has been quick unclipping from a pedal, and so there are bruises where my legs have been trapped under or catapulted into the various parts of my bicycle.
In fact, I low-key sprained my ankle a month ago when my foot stayed attached to a bike of which I was no longer properly in control. It’s still sort of swollen and sore, mainly because I have not at any point stopped running and riding on it. As it turns out, pain alone will not deter me from blundering forward in my customary fashion.
At the weekend I had one of those embarrassing, stationary crashes where, standing over my bike in a parking lot, I got my weight caught on the wrong side of the bike and proceeded to suplex myself onto the ground in that way that only beginners ever do. Again, my foot wouldn’t clip out of the pedal. I laid there in my embarrassment for a full ten seconds, both because it hurt, but also because I wanted to properly own my idiocy.
Sometimes people need an example of what not to do.
And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “Robot, you’re bad at bikes.” Fair enough, you. Fair enough. But also, you might be thinking, “You’ve got the tension dialed up too high on those pedals,” but really I don’t. You were more right the first time than the last.
This all got me to thinking that I have become a dinosaur (more of a dinosaur than before) in my approach to cycling footwear. At some point, deep under the influence of the jump-liners and endur-bros, mountain bikers stopped clipping in. These days (a phrase only the tragically past it ever uses), everyone’s riding flat pedals. They don’t need to be clipped in to control the back end of their bicycles and not being clipped in allows them to bail when things get too spicy.
I am mindful that moving back to flats will force me to relearn a bunch of bike skills, and being a moderately old dog, these might be tricks beyond my ken. On the other hand, it’d be nice not to thrash myself into a comic pratfall every time I fail an obstacle my mind thought was fully in my bailiwick.
This week’s TCI Friday asks, what even are the right shoes/pedals to be mountain biking in anymore? I’m a cross-country guy. X/C for those of you under 40. Should I go back to flats, if only for my own safety? Or should I just not be an idiot as often as I have been lately (it’s a big ask)? What do you mountain bike in/on?
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