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Discussion Starter #1
I need some advice! A friend put clipless pedals (SPD) on my bike and gave me a pair of shoes for them. I rode great for two weeks, never had a problem, and loved the feel of the new shoes and pedals.

Ok, ready for my first group ride- I had practiced and built up my endurance for 6 weeks. I rode great!

PROBLEM: I rode just fine, but stopping became a major issue! I fell over THREE times when stopping. All three times I had my left foot out of my pedal (that wasn't the issue), put my left foot on the ground, then somehow lost balance and the bike and I fell over on my right side.

The first fall was hard on my elbow, the second on my wrist, and by the third I was in so much pain I couldn't tell you what part of my body I fell on. After x-rays, healing for two weeks (still not 100% yet) I tried to get back on my bike yesterday.

I fell again- same situation. Foot touched the ground but lost balance and fell to the opposite side. The entire way home I sensed fear every time I needed to come to a stop.

HELP! Do I go with recessed cleats (on my road bike) or do you have tips for me? I really miss biking, but I am not afraid of continuing to hurt myself stopping. ADVICE?
 

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First they happen to everyone. Don't kick yourself too hard over it. Most of these types are what sprint car racers call Tommy Tipovers. Look worse than they really are but once in a while they hurt as you found out. Glad you are not hurt bad and not quiting.

Now my first question is what part of the foot is hitting the ground first??? Are you touching it with the side of your foot or just a cleat that isn't giving you some stability??? Do the shoes fit? Is there enough play in the shoe fit that it moves when you plant? Where do you put your foot on the ground? Could it be too close to the bike frame so its easy to get over balanced? Does it matter which foot you put down or do you fall on both sides?

Hunch With a group ride you were likely distracted from all the people that were riding with you and those things you focused on so hard alone now had distractions getting in the way. Painful, but you are hardly the first.

As you progress you will get so comfortable you almost forget to think and plan what you are doing. Still leave yourself a little room. Unclip just a bit before you think you need to. Last week I was cruising down the road and turned into a parking lot. Got a little careless and a little slow, and instinctively tried to unclip. Trouble is the clip hung up and I didn't have the speed to unclip the other foot before it was too late. End result was a Tommy Tipover and I provided the entertainment for the evening to a bunch of kids in a pickup. I am way too old to care about that.
 

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(...snip...)
PROBLEM: I rode just fine, but stopping became a major issue! I fell over THREE times when stopping. All three times I had my left foot out of my pedal (that wasn't the issue), put my left foot on the ground, then somehow lost balance and the bike and I fell over on my right side. ADVICE? (... snip...)
One possible cause of the tip-over is that the bike is too upright, or even leaning to the right, when you stop. Try leaning the bike more towards the left ... towards the side with the foot that's on the ground.

The easiest way to ensure that the bike leans left when you stop is to give the handlebars a quick countersteer to the right just before the stop. The bike will to lean left, and let you get your left foot down solidly. Practice it a few times without being clipped in until you get the bike to lean properly left every time.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
So I turn the handlebars so that my bike is pointed to the right, and my weight/bike will shift to the left, or opposite?

I think the cleat on the bottom of the shoe is what is touching the ground and slips, just like ice. I rode for two weeks with zero issues with this, and now I can't stop falling just about every time I stop.

Maybe I should brake/slow down differently too? I think I may also be trying to put my foot down on the left before the bike stops completely. I caught myself "hopping" a few times. I have read many articles, all counter advice with which brakes to use when stopping.

I only use the right brakes because I have noticed I am too heavy on the left brake sometimes- the power of the left brake (front) scares me. Should I be using BOTH brakes to slow down AND do I come to a complete stop before putting my left foot down? If so, how can I lean the bike without tipping?

I know this all sounds so stupid- it should not be this hard to stop a bike- I have been riding one since I was 8!!!!

Frustrated and STILL healing...
Jennifer
 

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Frustrated is normal and almost every cyclist deals with that at one point, and its particularly aggravating when you are healing and can get back up on the horse that threw you right away. That's ok. Most if not all of us have been there at one time or another.

Let's deal with the stopping issue first. There is no reason to fear using your front brake, but it does take some practice. It is a skill you MUST master. Why? When you need to make an emergency stop (and notice I used the word WHEN not IF) you are simply not going to be able to stop as fast. Sometimes just a few feet means the difference between being healing or mad. Frankly you know what healing is like already.

To start, if your bike will allow just use regular shoes. Start ride a few feet to get stable the stop with both brakes. Start at a low speed, and without really trying to stop quickly. The goal is just an even braking pressure to feel for balance. The slowly try to shorten your stopping distance. Once you master that speed, go a bit faster and repeat. You don't necessarily have to use both brakes every time, but you shouldn't be afraid of them either. In short order you wont be.

Just make sure you don't get all front brake, and make sure you inspect the brakes regularly. Once riding down a hill I came upon a water moccasin, (a poisonous snake common in the south) that decided to cross the road at just the wrong time. I grabbed both brakes figuring better to stop hard than tick off a snake. The front brake worked just fine. The back brake failed. I didn't hit the snake though. Me and the entire bike went over it as it went to the bushes. Better maintenance would have prevented that. After that I regularly tightened brake bolts and screws, but after I got up unhurt people laughed for the next 5 years.

Now in the process you are either going to have a problem tipping over or not. If not its most likely something with foot position related to those specific shoes. Id also practice at what speed you feel comfortable putting your foot down before you try it again with the cleats. Personally I like it ready to take the weight before the bike comes to an actual stop. Mountain bikers often do what is called a track stand where the bike is stopped, but they can still balance the bike without a foot down. Not something a lot of people need, but you can see there are a lot of ways to do things. The important thing is to find the way that works for you.

You might be right if the only thing touching the ground is the cleat, but what is baffling to me is why you suddenly started having problems. Did you change surface types? If you were doing fine before that ride, do you have an idea other than others watching you fall, what else might have changed? You are right though that a part of the shoe other than JUST the cleat should also be in contact with the ground.

Be patient with yourself. If I had to guess Id guess you are probably over thinking it a bit, and frustrated because you are not going to let it beat you and you can't go out and try it again right now. Take it slow, be patient and you will be fine.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the response and tips. I finally got back up on the bike again this evening. In the five stops on my ride, two were fine and three were VERY wobbly and unstable (close calls). On stop number 4, I actually had the same thing happen, and was falling over to the right when I was able to unclip my left foot mid-fall and stop myself from the full tip-over. I was so blessed because I am still not healed and falling on my left arm again would have been brutal.

I never fell in the seven weeks before this (5 with standard pedals, 2 weeks with these same shoes and clipless pedals). This falling is all brand new. I don't understand why it became and issue all of the sudden. Now I am worried I created a new bad habit (like learning your golf swing wrong) that I have to consciously correct.

I am not one to give up and am determined to beat this obstacle. The last stop today I decided to unclip the right shoe as well as the left at the last minute and thank goodness I did. I started to tip over again and was able to put down my second foot to stop me. I guess I will keep unclipping the right "just in case" and keep practicing with trying to only put down the left foot.

I did try braking with both brakes tonight and noticed that the front brakes have full pads and the back brakes I had to close much tighter for them to even touch the wheel. I guess all I can do is keep practicing and try to be cognizant of how I am leaning or if I am stopped all the way when I put my left foot down.

I was hoping for a magic "trick" or "answer", but I will try your suggestions with the practicing and just keep trucking along.

Thanks,
Jennifer
 

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Jennifer, give these two a look and see if there is anything you can gain from them. One thing, if you are actually hopping when you put your foot down, you're definitely putting it down too soon. You should be at a near stop when you put your foot down. Notice also in the second video how he puts the outside foot (the one he is leaving on the bike) down to help counterbalance the weight shift as he puts his other foot down. Hang in there!


[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcSF-7oJ1Ac&p=12E37977E78A9BC4&index=2&feature=BF]YouTube - How to Properly Use Clipless Pedals Video[/ame]

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQg1ylAD2rk&p=12E37977E78A9BC4&index=11&feature=BF]YouTube - How To Stop Your Road Bike Video[/ame]
 

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Jennifer as far as the brakes there is something you can do to remedy that problem. Brakes seldom get used equally. Back brakes almost always wear faster than front brakes. They can be adjusted however to get the distance to where the braking starts just about the same. If you don't know how to make that adjustment, get a local bike shop to show you. It's really not that hard to do, but you may need a tool or more commonly an extra pair of hands. I call it a voice activated clamp. (Tell a friend or significant other to hold this right here now while I tighten this screw). Make sure its tight though. You don't need to jump the snake like I did to remember to tighten everything back up. It's not a big adjustment, and as you ride more through practice it will just stop being a problem. When it starts to annoy you, you will know how to fix it.

Yeah I understand your determination and I greatly respect that. Yet make sure you heal before you try figure it out. You don't want another fall to cause more damage and pain or to make a two week injury a two month injury. Listen to what your body is telling you. If you don't it will talk louder and hurt more. If you have any other more routine maintenance that might be needed, now would be a good time to get it done or better yet learn how to do it yourself.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all the advice. Did 18 miles this morning- stopped ok- not great, but didn't fall. I did take my second foot out of the clips in case. I rode all back roads will little stopping. I figured since I am still injured better to still let my legs and heart get in a workout and quit "practicing" more stopping than need be until I heal.

I have seen the videos, but appreciate you sending them. I am now watching them over and over again and again to try and pick up on little subtle body movements in their stopping techniques.

:) Happy riding!
 

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I feel like there is something wrong going on with you because the clipless pedals allow you to perfect your spin. To pedal your bike most efficiently, you need to apply pressure more smoothly around the pedal stroke instead of just pushing down. The best way to do this is to pull back on the pedals at the bottom of the stroke. If you do this with toe clips, unless you've got them dangerously tight, you'll often come out of the toe clips.
The biggest problem with SPD-compatible pedals off-road is mud. Whenever you stop, try to put your foot down on a grassy area, and whipe your feet off on the grass before you get back on the bike. However, if you are still getting the problem then you should try something else.
 
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