About Christopher Wiggins

I'm a bike shop owner, and part time world traveler. I am the author of "The Idiot's Guide to Bike Repair and Maintenance". I like to play the ukulele, and 5 string banjo. I used to be a drummer.

A bill of goods

I hear it all the time.  “I need clipless pedals so I can pull up!”  Sigh.

I think you’ve been sold a bill of goods.

So many people come into my store asking about clipless pedal and shoes.  Their assumption is that they “need” these items in order to be a “serious” cyclist.  If I could channel Denzel (channeling Malcolm X) for just a minute.  “Ya been took!, Ya been hoodwinked, Bamboozled, Led Astray, run amok!”

Before I get too far I should say that I’m never going to tell anyone not to use something.  If you want to wear cycling specific pedals and shoes, go right ahead.  I wore them for a couple of decades.

My issue is with folks thinking they NEED to wear them.  YOU DON’T.

When I put flat pedals on my bikes and could ride in whatever shoes I happened to be wearing, I fell in love with my bike all over again.

IMG_4042

Bedrock sandals and MKS Grip Kings-a tasty pairing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So what about this “pulling up” thing?  What I can tell you is this: It took me the better part of a season to get used to flat pedals.  My left foot particularly kept wanting to come off the pedal.  As I got used to not being attached, I found that my feet stayed planted on the pedals, and my pedal stroke smoothed out.  Pulling up was a crutch that actually took away from efficiency.

Don’t believe me?  I get it.  Here are just a few of the articles I found on this subject.

http://pedalinginnovations.com/does-this-video-really-prove-that-flats-are-more-efficient-than-clipless-pedals/

http://www.nourishbalancethrive.com/blog/2015/10/02/its-not-about-pulling-why-flat-pedals-work/

http://www.over40cyclist.com/correct-pedalling-technique/

Here’s the bottom line: if you like your pedals and shoes, by all means, keep wearing them.  If you’re unsure, however, why not give flat pedals a try?

Ride on!

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It’s time we admit it

Cycling jerseys are awful.  Aren’t they?  I mean……really?  Not to mention that, for let’s say 99% of riders, they are totally unecessary.

Ridiculously garish, completely unflattering and………did I say unecessary?

There are plenty of shirts one can wear when riding.  Pockets?  Feh.  Put bags on your bike.  Let’s start a new trend, and just say no to the “costume”.

Holy non-sequiturs Batman

Adam West and Burt Ward in Batman.

 

When I was a kid I loved Batman.  The tv show, not the comic.  Even though by the time I was old enough to understand (kind of) what was going on, the 3 short seasons were in syndication.

When I was 10, or 11 my Mom and Dad took us to the local dime store.  They didn’t tell us where we were going.  They didn’t tell us why.  It was in the days that you could keep things from your kids I guess.  Burt Ward was doing a personal appearance.  We got to meet Robin.  It was one of the best days of my young life.

Batman was a huge part of my childhood.  I didn’t learn until much later that it was goofy.  It was much, much later that I found out that goofy was cool.

Michael Keaton, and Christian Bale may have played the more “accurate” Batman.  Adam West?  He was Batman to me.  RIP Caped Crusader.

When did everyone become so sure?

Of themselves, of their opinions, of their “facts”.  When did this happen?

I guess the answer is we’ve always been sure of our own postions.  What’s changed is the exclusion of those who have different opinions than our own.

Disagreement is fine.  Debate is healthy.  As long as we can still be friends when the discussion is over.  I wonder if that’s possible anymore.

People have the ablitly to be “heard” on a scale that we’ve never before experienced (this missive is just one example).  However, just because you can say something, doesn’t always mean you should.  I’ve never forgotten something I learned in my first speech class.  Once you say something, it can never be taken back.  Think first, then speak (or type as the case may be).  Just be nice to each other.

Roads were meant for bikes (no really).

usefulllane

Using your bike for transportation is a great idea.  It’s also an idea that can be somewhat daunting.  I thought I would jot down my tips for, what I think makes for a successful commute (or trip to the store etc…).

  • Choose your route wisely.  The biggest mistake I see is people thinking they’re going to ride the same route that they drive every day.  It may work in rare instances, but more often it ends a commuting career before it even begins.  Google maps/Earth is going to be your best friend.  Linked neighborhoods, and side streets can keep you off of busy roads.  It’s a must.

 

  • Pick the right tool for the job.  I’m talking about bikes people.  The right bike can make things so much easier.  Wider tires, racks and fenders are must haves IMO.  That means skipping the go-fast bike (unless that’s the only one you’ve got).  You don’t have to spend a fortune.  A fitness hybrid with some accessories can do it all.  It may be the only bike you need.  The FX line from Trek is a great place to start.  Want to spend a little more?  How about a Long Haul Trucker from Surly?  Or a Sam Hillborne from Rivendell.  Those are lifetime bikes.

 

  • Get the weight off of your back.  Backpacks are for noobs.  Unless you’re carrying nothing more than a T-shirt and handkerchief, get it in a bag somewhere on the bike.  You’ll thank me later.

 

  • Light it up!   It’s not any kind of news flash; drivers are more distracted than ever.  I run lights day and night.  I’ve got bits of reflective tape on my rear fender.  I’m interested in being seen.

 

  • Wear regular clothes.  By that I mean something loose-fitting and comfortable.  Technical fabrics?  sure, but something that will move around a bit when there’s a little breeze will feel good.  It also changes the way drivers treat you.  Sad but true.  Save the lycra for the Tuesday night World Championships…..if you’re into that sort of thing.

 

  • Take the lane (when appropriate).  This one may seem like a contradiction.  I want to use up a good 2 feet inside the white line.  Many riders want to squeeze themselves over as far as they can.  The thinking is that if drivers see how courteous they are, they will give them safe passage.  Wrong.  What they do is try to squeeze by you, running you off the in the process.  They may honk, and they may swear but they are going to have to go around me.  If you’ve followed the first suggestion,  this should only be necessary from time to time.

 

  • Do wear a helmet.  It’s still a free country (at least at the time of this writing), but it just makes good sense.  It may not save you, but if you’re going to play in traffic-helmets today are so light and so comfortable……..just wear one.

What do you think?  Did I miss anything?  Do you have additonal tips?