A lot of people don't find bike riding very impressive as a sport, because how hard can it be? Little kids learn how to ride bikes before they learn how to tie their shoes (which is a little dangerous if you think about it).
Disaster waiting to happen.
Well, I started riding to get in shape recently and learned that there's a big difference between bike riding and serious bike riding. Doing all the things "right" according to the pros seems at times like a terrible initiation prank designed to kill or embarrass new riders. I can only conclude that there are a limited number of slots in the Real Bicyclists Club and they are dedicated to keeping applicants out by making them deal with things like this...
5You Can Kill Yourself Just Getting On (if You Do it Right)
Sit on your bike seat. Can you put one foot down on the ground? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. That's what they told me anyway.
Common sense tells you that when you come to a stop on your bike, you want to be able to quickly put a foot down so you don't, you know, fall over.
But apparently that's crazy talk. You're actually supposed to be able to fully extend your leg when the pedal is all the way down, to get full use of your leg muscles, because pedaling with your knees always bent is like duck-walking a footrace -- you're not fully using your muscles, and the other racers will laugh heartily at you.
Unless you are holding a guitar.
Since the pedal is several inches above the ground (or it would scrape it), that puts your foot several inches above the ground when your leg is fully extended -- which means you can't put your foot down. If your seat is at the proper height, and you come to a stop and try to put your foot down, you will fall over, and the other bikers will laugh heartily at you.
The guitar isn't going to help you here.
And if you get on the normal way, swinging your leg over the seat with the bike tilted toward you, and then lean upright to get underway, well, a road bike in particular is liable to turn as you get on, because it's sensitive, and you steer by leaning left and right. So you can find yourself turning into traffic, or maybe the curb, which never turns out well.
So how are you supposed to get off and on? Well, you're supposed to straddle the crossbar, then put one foot on one of the pedals, and push the bike forward, picking up your other foot, like you're on a scooter. You're supposed to go from ground to scooter position to sitting on the seat, to get on, and the opposite to get off, which is easy to do with a bit of practice, but who the hell is going to remember an orderly series of steps 1-2-3 when you're about to ride into an obstacle and you hit the brakes?
Not me! I prefer an unexpected crotch full of crossbar apparently.
Wakes you right up.
4Your Feet are Stuck to the Goddamned Bike
What if people are too wily to fall off their bikes just because you raised their seats? Well, the cycling community has just the thing to deal with them -- toe clips. Clips that hold your feet to the pedals, whether you like it or not.
"What if the rider can't get their foot off in time because it's actually fastened to the pedal with something that looks like an S&M torture device?" one of the Real Bicyclist Club members no doubt proposed one day, to resounding applause. And so toe clips were born.
Most serious bicyclists wouldn't dream of using toe clips, however, and have special clipless pedals that lock onto special cleats on special bike shoes.
It all costs special amounts of money too.
They'll talk like toe clips and cleats are completely different things even though it's quite obvious to a terrified clumsy person like me that they both attach your goddamn feet to the goddamn pedals.
"No sweetie, that's twine, not rope. Totally different thing. You'll be fine."
Of course they've come up with an excuse for this, which is efficiency. With a regular bike pedal, you only push down. Strapping your feet in with those deathtraps allows you to also pull the pedals up, giving you extra power, at the cost of immortality. If you're riding in a group and everyone else has them, you're liable to get left behind.
I personally don't care, I'm not attaching my feet to anything. I'll go lift some fucking weights and get 50% stronger than everyone else if that's what I have to do to keep up. A week doesn't go by where I don't hear someone's horror story about being clipped in and falling over their handlebars and breaking their ankle or seeing their shinbone or something equally charming.
Bonus: The bike shoes you have to wear to attach the cleats often have solid pieces of plastic as soles, so if you enjoy ice skating across a dry parking lot, you will enjoy these.
You can be Lance Armstrong AND Michelle Kwan.