A Study in Casually Deliberate: Start Properly
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.
- 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.
- In one swift move, pivot on your left foot while swinging your thigh onto the saddle.
- Allow your thigh to slide over the saddle and use it to slip your rump to where you ultimately endeavor to sit.
- Simultaneously, push off with your left foot to set the whole operation into motion.
- 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: