To Clip or Not to ClipPosted in Instructor Blog
I love the conversations I have with my riders during class. Today, the topic was the amount of discomfort everyone felt during certain parts of the ride. “My legs get sore and I can’t add anymore resistance,” one rider said. “How long do you have to ride (months/years) before the “soreness” goes away during a ride?” another rider asked me. I told them that I was never “sore”, but I always pushed myself to work hard, past my comfort zone, during our rides. “How do you do that,” one of them asked. I told them it was all about directing your power and energy where it was needed and letting the rest of the body relax.
I have a basic mantra when I ride that I try to impart to my students. “No wasted energy. Be an efficient, conscious rider (in body and mind).” From the tips of our toes to the tops of our head there are adjustments we can make that will enable us to climb higher, sprint faster and recover quicker….it all starts with our feet! I’m not talking about proper position to the pedal. It’s more basic than that. It’s all about THE SHOES.
I’m excited to see new, fresh faces in my classes, but what really inspires me as an instructor is to watch “newbie riders” transform into consistent, dedicated riders. When a beginning rider’s focus shifts from “just getting through a ride” to seeking ways to improve their ride, my first question to them is if they have considered buying cycling shoes. It all goes back to my philosophy of being an efficient rider.
The sole of a cycling shoe is more rigid than a regular athletic shoe. The stiffness provides an efficient transfer of energy to the pedal. It supports the entire length of the foot. This helps reduce fatigue and cramping.
The second element that differentiates a cycling shoe is the cleat attached to the bottom of the sole. At Spokes, the Keiser M3 bikes use the SPD (2-hole) system. The cleat allows the foot to be clipped in at the perfect position to the pedal, at the ball of the foot. It keeps the foot secure to the pedal. The stability allows for better energy transfer because the foot is not allowed to slip at any point of the pedal stroke.
Many riders, myself included, are hesitant to make the monetary commitment to purchase cycling shoes. Granted a good quality shoe and the cleats, which are purchased separately, can cost upwards of $100. In my experience, the investment is well worth it. I wore my first pair of cycling shoes 5-6 days a week for over 5 years before they needed to be replaced. How many times have many of us bought a pair of “special occasion” shoes to wear once that cost as much, or more?
Ultimately, we each have to decide where we want to take our ride. If you are satisfied being an occasional rider and feel a great sense of accomplishment “just getting through”, then, maybe a typical athletic shoe works just fine for you. But, if you’ve made a commitment to improve your performance, there’s no better place to start than with your feet!
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