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Saturday, September 3, 2011


Clipless pedals are sometimes a hotly debated topic in biking.  I used to be ambivalent, opting for platform pedals. It made a lot of sense in snow biking, hopping on and off the bike frequently and plus I never tried clipless before.   The past few years of doing more triathlons led to an actual entry level road bike this year.  
GT Carbon bike
 I started off training in platforms and quickly realized I was barely getting above an 18 mph average on training runs.  I never really paid attention to speed as my usual snow bike training consisted of going out in storms in horrid conditions, pushing a bike or doing some weird tundra trip. I was in new territory. So when REI had a couple of great sales I couldn’t pass up the deal and ordered some of these

and some of these.

My first time out on clipless my speed [on my (ridiculous) paved loop] increased closer to 20mph and by the time I did my tri’s I managed 20 mph for the first race at 56 miles and 21mph a week later on the second one.   I feel like I could squeeze out 22 or 23 mph with a better bike and/or more training.  I was surprised how much I liked road/tri biking and tinkering with aero and geometry of riding.  The clipless seemed to exponentially help reduce my leg fatigue and climb hills while feeling connected to the bike.  That said I had some whopping falls, forgetting I was clipped at stops or stalling on hills. 

Yesterday, I put these on the fat bike and went for a ride.  

After riding tri style most of the summer the snow bike geometry took a little getting used but I really liked the feel of clipless on the snow bike.  Biking across tundra is technical and the pedal significantly improved my ability to navigate and go uphill… that is until I stalled and fell over.  It will certainly take some time to get used to and I will likely order some MTB style pedals. The verdict is out on whether to use them on the next ITI but I have a feeling I will…


The Rudstroms said...

This reminds me of the first time that I rode clipless. Kind of scarey at first, but once you get used to it you don't want to go back.

The Woman said...

Stumbled on your blog from a link on Jill Homer's blog. Can't resist encouraging you to try Eggbeater pedals. I was on SPDs for years until Travis Brown (no lie) gave me some Eggbeaters. They changed my life, swear to god. Easy to get in, easy to get out, no mud or ice buildup-awesome.

Phil said...

I agree, hard to see going back to platforms even in snow. Yep, my crankbrothers are in the mail!

Mark said...

Phil - I've ridden both platform and clipless, and agree there's a boost in power and efficiency, though IMO not as much as most clipless proponents profess. As a non-racer who combines riding excursions with hiking sidetrips and summer/winter hike-a-biking, I find it hard to give up the freedom/flexibility of platforms. Then there's the problem of keeping your feet warm in winter with clipless, something I'm sure is of concern to you. As a person prone to cold feet, it's a major concern for me. The present crop of clipless footwear seems to equal cold feet. Some folks are going to almost absurd lengths to modify clipless boots for warmth, with poor results. If I recall correctly, Pete B. who rides clipless in summer rides platforms in winter for this reason. Any thoughts on keeping your feet warm?

Phil said...

Mark- we'll see, I've never ridden clipless till this summer on the road bike. Using the same boring 10 mile 'loop' all summer I definitely notice a 1-2 mph difference in speed and less fatigue. But as you say snow biking is a lot of on/off the bike and the cold yeah, that'll be interesting. I'm a big Pete fan and always follow his advice but am also a Jeff O fan too. He rides in Fairbanks at -50 always clipless in lakes i think... so we'll see, your points are what I aim to explore. I'll certainly post my experience. I have had a lot of ideas in the past that have been trashed the first time I step out in -30 or in wind.

spruceboy said...

I bumped on to your blog while looking for information on boot options for snow bike racing. I could be wrong, but I think I saw you in this springs Susitna 100 biking in Lobbens? If you don't mind me asking, how do keep the lobbens dry in warm snow? I love lobbens for the dry cold biking conditions we have in the Fairbanks area and was wondering how they would work for something like the ITI.

Good luck with your attempt to run clipless. If you have small feet or have Oatley's magic circulation it is possible. Mike Curiak has a wonderful writeup on his setup.

Phil said...

I did do the susitna this past year instead of the iti since my son was born in march.

I love the lobbens, I may still go back to them but I am hooked on the clippless as of now. Once the riding becomes more snow/trail/pushing and colder we'll see.

Lobbens with patagonia thick socks were seemed to work ok. The wool insulates even in moisture, though if they got wet I had terrible blisters from sliding around. Otherwise gaiters and overboots for overflow.