Sarah Ginsbach demonstrates perfect mounting style. Photo: Allen Kuo

A Study in Casually Deliberate: Start Properly

by / / 93 posts

I was recently asked how one is supposed to handle the delicate situation when departing a traffic signal and you are unable to clip in immediately. The obvious answer is that you’re supposed to clip in right away (use your toe to position the pedal and then pop your shoe into it) but I admit that this doesn’t always work out as envisioned. Should you find yourself in a traffic intersection, flailing about trying to clip in, the simple fact is that you are to remain Casually Deliberate at all times: take your time, don’t express any sense of feeling rushed, and possibly pretend like there might be something wrong with either your cleat or pedal.

This brings up a greater worry centered around how we as a group set about starting off initially on our rides. Being bipedal organisms, we struggle with setting a flight on two wheels. In my observations, I have noted that many of us tend to straddle the bike (itself an inelegant maneuver), grasp the bars with both hands, stare longingly at the first pedal as it is engaged with the cleat, before pushing off – an act not without risk given the likelihood of slipping on our cleated shoe – and wobbling about as the other foot is clipped into the pedal. This act is – inexplicably – normally followed by a sprint to get up to speed as if to prove that despite our failings in starting properly, we can still crush fools.

Cyclocross is a sport of savages; it combines the elegance of Cycling with the stated objective to dismount and run over obstacles, as if some mad nutter crossed Cycling with Miniature Golf. Which is not to say that I don’t love Cyclocross (because I do). The sport does give the road Cyclist excellent bike handling skills, not to mention a disciplined approach to remounting the bicycle while in full flight.

This is an art that the ‘Crosser must master as part of the sport and one in which I have failed miserably in for the simple fact that when I go out training, I cannot abide the idea that I would stop riding my bicycle just so I can practice climbing back on it. Be that as it may, the expert rider is able to fluidly run alongside their bike and swing swiftly aboard the thing as though they were about to take a swim in bath of warm jelly.

Whenever I race CX, I am humiliated by my remount, losing dozens of meters at every attempt. That said, I have practiced it just enough to do it properly from a standstill, a skill which serves me well when setting off on any of my road rides.

  1. One is never to straddle the bike prior to setting off. Instead, hold the bars casually with both hands and stand on the left (non-drive) side.
  2. In one swift move, pivot on your left foot while swinging your thigh onto the saddle.
  3. Allow your thigh to slide over the saddle and use it to slip your rump to where you ultimately endeavor to sit.
  4. Simultaneously, push off with your left foot to set the whole operation into motion.
  5. Allow your feet to dangle for a moment while you find your pedals, flip them into position with your toes, and clip in perfectly before casually pedalling off as though it took no concentration whatsoever.

A few notes of caution. Do not try to go all Air Jordan and attempt to get up in the air; you will crush your boy or lady parts. Instead slide onto the inner thigh first, and then slowly engage said crushable parts. Also, if you still fail to engage the pedals, simply use your momentum to roll along as though it were deliberate and take your time to clip in one foot at a time. Also, try to watch where you’re going so as not to roll into oncoming traffic and get killed.

Vive la Vie Velominatus. Please see below for an excellent instruction by GCN.

And, for the world’s fastest bike change:

// Awesome Belgian Guys // Etiquette // La Vie Velominatus // Look Pro

  1. @Owen

    That woman would lay waste to most people on this site, I’d wager.

    Most people? Everypeople I would wager..




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  2. A interesting quick read….

    Why Do We Get on Bikes From the Left?




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  3. @Oli

    @frank

    So wtf IS “escaptional”??

    Perhaps it’s in the same family as “strategery.”




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  4. @Beers

    @Owen

    That woman would lay waste to most people on this site, I’d wager.

    Most people? Everypeople I would wager..

    I don’t know everyone, and at least a couple pros hang around, so I’m hedging a little. But I’d bet it’s close to 99%.




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  5. ^ She’d whoop my ass, that’s for sure. I’d probably thank her for the privilege, too.




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  6. @Ccos

    Haha, berilliant!




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  7. Pedalling one-footed or with cleats balanced on the pedal are pretty handy techniques too. No need to go all the way around with one foot either, just half-pedal and make use of the freewheel.

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?




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  8. @PT

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?

    Certainly expected the thread to get there before the 50th post.




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  9. @Owen

    ^ She’d whoop my ass, that’s for sure. I’d probably thank her for the privilege, too.

    Exactly. Ms Vos can lay waste to me anytime. To quote the Smiths: “The pleasure, the privilege would be mine.”




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  10. My latest mounting challenge that I’ve been working on: remounting my commuter bike ‘cross style…with panniers on both sides.

    I mount both my cross bikes and my road bikes in ‘cross style. However, when I want to go for Casually Deliberate, I go for the modified ‘cross mount, which is less full on hop and more slow motion leg swing, slip into the saddle. Like the PROs do when remounting after a puncture.

    I’m not bad at remounting from the DS, but it always puts the fear of crunched lower bits into me.

    OH, and I enjoy the moving push off, one foot on pedal, then leg swing as you roll out move for getting going on the commuter bikes. Okay move for commuter riding? Or not okay.




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  11. @Apex Nadir

    @PT

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?

    Certainly expected the thread to get there before the 50th post.

    As much as those of us who enjoy the beauty of the opposite sex and are males and LOVE females in Lycra FAR FAR more than seeing dudes in Lycra…we try to keep this Community non-greasy.

    Thus, 50th post. There is something nice about thinking something and not necessarily expressing it, which I’m typically horrible at, but it is nice to bite your tongue sometimes and just keep the focus on cycling.




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  12. @Ron

    @Apex Nadir

    @PT

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?

    Certainly expected the thread to get there before the 50th post.

    As much as those of us who enjoy the beauty of the opposite sex and are males and LOVE females in Lycra FAR FAR more than seeing dudes in Lycra…we try to keep this Community non-greasy.

    Thus, 50th post. There is something nice about thinking something and not necessarily expressing it, which I’m typically horrible at, but it is nice to bite your tongue sometimes and just keep the focus on cycling.

    Which I totally failed at when someone posted a picture of Victoria Pendleton on another thread. Sorry.

    As someone who commutes a lot and thus has to pedal away from traffic lights without ending up underneath buses, lorries and the like, I’ve developed a method of hooking onto the pedal with the front of my cleat to get some momentum as soon as the light goes green, giving a few good pedals, and then clipping in. I can’t bear the shame of missing a clip in busy traffic (especially if I’ve just skipped to the front of the queue. Which is likely).




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  13. @RobSandy

    @Ron

    @Apex Nadir

    @PT

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?

    Certainly expected the thread to get there before the 50th post.

    As much as those of us who enjoy the beauty of the opposite sex and are males and LOVE females in Lycra FAR FAR more than seeing dudes in Lycra…we try to keep this Community non-greasy.

    Thus, 50th post. There is something nice about thinking something and not necessarily expressing it, which I’m typically horrible at, but it is nice to bite your tongue sometimes and just keep the focus on cycling.

    Which I totally failed at when someone posted a picture of Victoria Pendleton on another thread. Sorry.

    I agree that this site is, and is kept, non greasy. However, is it greasy per se to make the two comments under discussion? Is a comment that Victoria Pendleton looks superb by definition a greasy comment? And on this site it isn’t one way – there are many similar comments on various male cyclists that are made.

    Part of this site is about Looking Fantastic. Surely if the comments are basically that, then they’re OK? Once the writer goes into ‘cor, what I’d like to with xxxxxxx is……….and …………’ then we are in grease territory (and to be clear, I’ve never ever seen such comments here).

    Or am I confused?




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  14. @Neil

    Surely a track stand at traffic signals is both convenient and aesthetically pleasing? I’ve never knowingly missed an opportunity to show off.

    I’m a big fan of the track stand at lights. It reminds me of my days as a courier, when I first mastered it. It also makes sure I don’t lose any ground on the cars when queue jumping during rush hour. When in the core, with short blocks and frequently ill timed lights, the track stand is even more essential in a cyclists tool kit.

    That said, I would argue that as it is a very active method of not going anywhere on a bike, it can not be casual, and consequently not casually deliberate. As Frank well knows, I’m a rampant rule breaker, so I’ll continue to track stand until I’ve met the man with the hammer.




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  15. @PT, @Apex Nadir, @Ron, @RobSandy, @davidlhill

    Remarking on someone’s attractiveness and even joking about it – as is often the case when Cipo’s photos surface around here – is all fine. Certainly in the case of someone like Vicky Pendleton who is outrageously pretty.

    But to @Ron’s point, we like to keep it classy and respectful; swinging to far to the other side of the PC pendulum that one isn’t allowed the liberty to remark on someone else’s attractiveness is just as wrong.

    The lead photo was chosen because of the composition, the motion, the excellent technique, the fact that the rider Looks Fantastic and because I like promoting women’s cycling whenever I can.




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  16. @frank

    @PT, @Apex Nadir, @Ron, @RobSandy, @davidlhill

    The lead photo was chosen because of the composition, the motion, the excellent technique, the fact that the rider Looks Fantastic and because I like promoting women’s cycling whenever I can.

    But don’t you think her socks are a bit long?




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  17. @TheVId

    @Neil

    Surely a track stand at traffic signals is both convenient and aesthetically pleasing? I’ve never knowingly missed an opportunity to show off.

    I’m a big fan of the track stand at lights. It reminds me of my days as a courier, when I first mastered it. It also makes sure I don’t lose any ground on the cars when queue jumping during rush hour. When in the core, with short blocks and frequently ill timed lights, the track stand is even more essential in a cyclists tool kit.

    That said, I would argue that as it is a very active method of not going anywhere on a bike, it can not be casual, and consequently not casually deliberate. As Frank well knows, I’m a rampant rule breaker, so I’ll continue to track stand until I’ve met the man with the hammer.

    I do also like a track stand when it’s safe to do so – but it is high risk. Falling off in front of the cars as the lights go green is not recommended and, more importantly, is definitely not Casually Deliberate.

    If there’s a handy railing I prefer a casual lean so I can stay clipped in. Or if I know it’s going to be a long wait I unclip, sit on the top tube and wait properly.




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  18. @RobSandy

    Indeed I do, but I also already said ‘Crossers are savages.




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  19. @RobSandy, @TheVId

    This is proper stoplight waiting form. One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.




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  20. @frank

    @RobSandy, @TheVId

    This is proper stoplight waiting form. One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.

    That looks correct.

    Someone doing a long track stand at an intersection begins to look a bit silly. If I arrive at a red light and I’m clipped in with the toe straps and I know it’s a stale green for the cross traffic I’ll do a short track stand, but that’s it.




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  21. @frank

    @PT, @Apex Nadir, @Ron, @RobSandy, @davidlhill

    Remarking on someone’s attractiveness and even joking about it – as is often the case when Cipo’s photos surface around here – is all fine. Certainly in the case of someone like Vicky Pendleton who is outrageously pretty.

    But to @Ron’s point, we like to keep it classy and respectful; swinging to far to the other side of the PC pendulum that one isn’t allowed the liberty to remark on someone else’s attractiveness is just as wrong.

    The lead photo was chosen because of the composition, the motion, the excellent technique, the fact that the rider Looks Fantastic and because I like promoting women’s cycling whenever I can.

    I’m not making anymore comments on women’s riding.

    But remember just how gross things got back in the good ol 90’s on the USENET newsgroups? ‘ rec.bicycles.racing ‘ was pretty much x rated and I think just kind of blew up.




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  22. @Chipomarc

    USENET?




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  23. @Ron

    @Apex Nadir

    @PT

    Maybe its just me but the title photo is a bit sexy isn’t it?

    Certainly expected the thread to get there before the 50th post.

    As much as those of us who enjoy the beauty of the opposite sex and are males and LOVE females in Lycra FAR FAR more than seeing dudes in Lycra…we try to keep this Community non-greasy.

    Thus, 50th post. There is something nice about thinking something and not necessarily expressing it, which I’m typically horrible at, but it is nice to bite your tongue sometimes and just keep the focus on cycling.

    The emboldened section was literally running through my head as I read the preceding portion of that sentence!




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  24. @frank

    @RobSandy, @TheVId

    This is proper stoplight waiting form. One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.

    Abso-fucking-lutely! A casual reach behind the bent knee to retrieve the bidon & take a swig is always a nice touch.




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  25. @Chipomarc

    @frank

    @RobSandy, @TheVId

    This is proper stoplight waiting form. One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.

    That looks correct.

    Someone doing a long track stand at an intersection begins to look a bit silly. If I arrive at a red light and I’m clipped in with the toe straps and I know it’s a stale green for the cross traffic I’ll do a short track stand, but that’s it.

    Yes. Trackstanding is just inviting non-Cyclists to think we are (bigger) dickheads (than they already do). My friend @Kah sometimes does it, and it riles me enough to try and push him over.




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  26. @Mikael Liddy

    @frank

    @RobSandy, @TheVId

    This is proper stoplight waiting form. One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.

    Abso-fucking-lutely! A casual reach behind the bent knee to retrieve the bidon & take a swig is always a nice touch.

    Ounce of prevention: one should first attempt to approach the light in a controlled fashion so as to avoid the need to unclip OR do a trackstand.




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  27. @Chipomarc

    @frank

    @RobSandy, @TheVId

    Someone doing a long track stand at an intersection begins to look a bit silly. If I arrive at a red light and I’m clipped in with the toe straps and I know it’s a stale green for the cross traffic I’ll do a short track stand, but that’s it.

    Yes, I won’t disagree that a long track stand can look a bit silly. But once I’ve started, I won’t stop, lest I be judged that I stopped because I had to, not because I wanted to be more casual.

    I suppose the best way to show total dominance of skill, while still adhering to the rules would be:

    1. If you know the light will change soon as you approach the intersection, adjust your speed accordingly so you need not unclip or track stand.

    2. If you know the light will be long, unclip, rest on the top tube as per the above examples and get ready to crush souls upon the green. Once the light in the opposite direction turns yellow, mount up, clip in and track stand until the light changes, then leave the traffic behind you for the next 100m or so (until they inevitably catch up). Thus you show not only your mastery of and unity with your steed, but also your adherence to La Vie Velominatus.




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  28. @frank

    Then, sir, your grandmother was an awesome cyclist.




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  29. @brett

    I pretty much only do it to annoy you. I’m partial to the top tube lean myself.




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  30. @kah

    @brett

    I pretty much only do it to annoy you. I’m partial to the top tube lean myself.

    Keeper Jim does the same thing. I threaten to push him over while he track stands away like a twat, and he invites me to listen to the sickening crunch as he falls onto all the carbon bits I’m sitting on.

    Game, set, match.




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  31. @frank

    One should not be living in fear of fucking clipping in.

    Thus spoke @frank

    FFS people, a velominatus should be able to balance atop the pedals or rest jauntily upon the top tube. But when it’s go time it’s the cross mount (which I am still learning)




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  32. Maybe I’m just not good at riding bikes, as I’ve only been doing it for 40 or so years, but there are two things I do not do on my road bike. One is track stands and two is wheelies.




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  33. @wilburrox

    there are two things I do not do on my road bike. One is track stands and two is wheelies.

    Fucking this!

    A guy within our weekend group regularly decides to pull a wheelie when he gets bored on a climb (short attention span), on the day his corroded alu bars gave way upon returning to two wheels it took a long time for me to stop laughing…




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  34. @wilburrox

    Maybe I’m just not good at riding bikes, as I’ve only been doing it for 40 or so years, but there are two things I do not do on my road bike. One is track stands and two is wheelies.

    You win the Internet today, son.




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  35. @wilburrox

    Maybe I’m just not good at riding bikes, as I’ve only been doing it for 40 or so years, but there are two things I do not do on my road bike. One is track stands and two is wheelies.

    Agreed. I’ll track stand on a track bike, where I can pull it off, but rarely on a road bike. A perfectly still, effortless track stand can be as casually deliberate as anything, but jerkin’ back ’n’ forth is not. (Devo reference intended.)

    Conversely, riding fixed and clipless in traffic will hone one’s ability to clip in quickly and improve takeoff speed on a road bike.




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  36. @frank

    @PT, @Apex Nadir, @Ron, @RobSandy, @davidlhill

    Remarking on someone’s attractiveness and even joking about it – as is often the case when Cipo’s photos surface around here – is all fine. Certainly in the case of someone like Vicky Pendleton who is outrageously pretty.

    But to @Ron’s point, we like to keep it classy and respectful; swinging to far to the other side of the PC pendulum that one isn’t allowed the liberty to remark on someone else’s attractiveness is just as wrong.

    The lead photo was chosen because of the composition, the motion, the excellent technique, the fact that the rider Looks Fantastic and because I like promoting women’s cycling whenever I can.

    @Frank, @all

    Mea culpa – but no harm was intended. Its a great photo, Sarah does indeed Look Fantastic and it was more in that direction I was heading than the other. Nevertheless, a slippery slope which is best to avoid – its always nice to Stay Classy whenever possible.




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  37. @pistard

    Exactly. Here’s The Prophet demonstrating proper technique:

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/30679014/merckx-mount.gif

    Finally something I can do properly. And who cares I can’t do it any other way….




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  38. @pistard

    @wilburrox

    Maybe I’m just not good at riding bikes, as I’ve only been doing it for 40 or so years, but there are two things I do not do on my road bike. One is track stands and two is wheelies.

    Agreed. I’ll track stand on a track bike, where I can pull it off, but rarely on a road bike. A perfectly still, effortless track stand can be as casually deliberate as anything, but jerkin’ back ’n’ forth is not. (Devo reference intended.)

    One of my riding buddies pulled off a perfectly motionless track stand while we were listening to the coach the other night. I was really quite impressed. Returning to topic, he’s a Crosser.




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  39. @PT

    No harm no foul.




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  40. https://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video/CS0t5pnUcAA7Qci.mp4

    Not sure if the link is going to embed properly but it is why track standing is useless.

    PS won’t track stand at lights – seems like a pointless and quick way to fill your legs up with lactic acid. Will track stand if cut off or obstructed while riding, cos it’s normally safer and quicker to be able to spin off as soon as the cager gets out of the way without having to clip in again.




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  41. @minion

    https://pbs.twimg.com/tweet_video/CS0t5pnUcAA7Qci.mp4

    Not sure if the link is going to embed properly but it is why track standing is useless.

    PS won’t track stand at lights – seems like a pointless and quick way to fill your legs up with lactic acid. Will track stand if cut off or obstructed while riding, cos it’s normally safer and quicker to be able to spin off as soon as the cager gets out of the way without having to clip in again.

    That is the best video and the best descriptor of why I am so reluctant to strack stand for more than a few seconds only when I know the light will change so soon it seems a waste to unclip.




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  42. @minion

    @frank

    Useless? It’s tactical and in the video it works, forcing the second rider to take the lead. (Although he should have been disqualified for moving backwards.)

    It’s also limited to two times, max 30 seconds each in a match sprint by UCI and USAC, but here’s Hoy and Wolff standstill for several minutes at a German Six Day, where the first rule is to encourage beer sales:




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  43. There was a lot of back and forth with the commissars about whether he should have been dq’ed for going backwards, but because Hoogland used the tactic to take the lead it was allowed.

    You can understand why, with an evening’s racing to schedule, a house full of punters, and a lot of match sprint heats, the track stand got the boot. Having said that, this is one of my favourite match sprint vids for the massive hook that gets thrown by Golinelli




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  44. A note of caution. When doing this mount in the rain, take care not to hook your shorts on the saddle, requiring a cleated wobble into the street. Very tough to keep it all Casually Deliberate when this happens.

    Theoretically.




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  45. @frank

    I was recently asked how one is supposed to handle the delicate situation when departing a traffic signal and you are unable to clip in immediately. The obvious answer is that you’re supposed to clip in right away (use your toe to position the pedal and then pop your shoe into it) but I admit that this doesn’t always work out as envisioned.

    One word: Speedplay. Double-sided entry means no need to use your toe to position the pedal. Just find the pedal with you cleat and step in/pedal to engage. Even if you’re off a little, easy to maintain casual deliberateness as there’s no need to look down and all you need to do is just keep pedaling so no wobbling involved. Another word: Spartacus.

    Not about clipping in to start, but how casually deliberate was Sagan’s clipping back in after coming unclipped on the Governor’s climb en route to winning the Worlds? 1:10 point in the vid.




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  46. @chuckp

    Totally.




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  47. Not a bad suggestion, Chuck. However, the thought of swapping pedals on all my road bikes AND swapping cleats on my numerous pairs of shoes means I shall never, ever let the thought of Speedplay Reassignment Therapy enter my mind.

    I’d be broke and delusion from setting, resetting, and tweaking the cleat adjustment.




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  48. @frank

    A note of caution. When doing this mount in the rain, take care not to hook your shorts on the saddle, requiring a cleated wobble into the street. Very tough to keep it all Casually Deliberate when this happens.

    Theoretically.

    Good lord, I have caught regular shorts worn for commuting more than once when remounting cross style. It is a great way to scare the hell out of oneself. Man, that ain’t fun.




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  49. @Ron

    @frank

    A note of caution. When doing this mount in the rain, take care not to hook your shorts on the saddle, requiring a cleated wobble into the street. Very tough to keep it all Casually Deliberate when this happens.

    Theoretically.

    Good lord, I have caught regular shorts worn for commuting more than once when remounting cross style. It is a great way to scare the hell out of oneself. Man, that ain’t fun.

    Mine were soggy from the rain and my new Arione 00 has some nice anti-slip material on it; the two combined against me. Theoretically.

    @chuckp

    That entire finish line celebration is just so entirely casually deliberate, it is too cool




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  50. Ok, am I the only one that wants to see more of Sarah?

    Joey is a machine, that guy is so fast! He even flies through the air quickly! He has taken more of my KOM’s then anyone else.




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