Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Protip*: Clipping in

Gewilli's recent post about starting got me thinking, why is clipping in such a hard thing for so many people?

I went to a park to see if I could stomp some starts and lo and behold, I couldn't. I had, at best, a 20% success rate. Dejected, I turned to ride home and absentmindedly clipped in -- flawlessly.

Since that moment I don't think I missed a single clip-in. I tried a couple times on the way to work each day and nailed it every time. In lieu of race reports, I will share my secrets with you!

Here's the trick -- slap your foot on the pedal once on the upstroke and then clip in on the downstroke. The first contact tells you where the pedal is, and if you have a good feel for mtb pedals (i.e. you didn't just start riding them this year) you can tell exactly how much you missed by. Make the slight adjustment you need as the pedal comes over the top, clip in on the way down, and you're gone. Works. Every. Time.

I think the problem I was having (and you might be too) is that the more you think about stomping it the less delicate you are at finding the pedal with your foot. It's a long way from the ground to your moving pedal, and the only way you can tell where it is is your other foot's position (well, I guess you could look down). The odds of hitting the pedal from a standing start with the cleat in position isn't very high, so if your first contact is on the downstroke you can't make an adjustment until the next upstroke, and it's easy to fumble that one too since your clipped-in foot is driving the pedals hard.

But, make a conscious effort to touch the pedal as fast as you can when your foot comes up and then reset it after contact on the downstroke. If you're used to mtb pedals you'll hit it without thinking.

Seriously, it's less complicated than it sounds. Touch the pedal on the upstroke and then try to do your regular clip-in, I bet it helps.

* Bonus Protip: don't take protips from a guy with top mounts unless he looks like this.

4 comments:

gewilli 10/23/2007 1:17 PM  

Good tip.

Different things work for different people.

That is why practicing and doing it out side of the race arena is good.

What works for you might be slow for some one else.

BUT

if you don't try new stuff out you won't find what works best for you.

The only bit of advice i would add is to not get hung up about clipping in instantly.

Of far greater importance is pedalling right away. if you can be clipped in, great, if not- get it the next pedal stroke. Most importantly relax, make it natural.

Colin R 10/23/2007 1:31 PM  

I kind of disagree with you on the last bit. If we're talking about getting a good start, the best time to make time is on pedal revolution #2 and #3, accelerating as hard as you can while the people that didn't nail the clip in are still fumbling.

You can't accelerate very well when you can't pull up on one foot and you need to get clipped in.

Like everything it's a gray area, but I would err toward getting clipped in fast over mashing pedal strokes while not in. You will lose ground both ways, but at least the former means you'll stop losing ground sooner.

Thom P. 10/23/2007 3:22 PM  

I gotta back up Gewilli on the not worrying about clipping in thing. Just concentrate on mashing the hell out of the pedals, if you don't get in, keep mashing away until you do.

This coming from Mr. Awesome Starter here...right.

But don't take my word for it.
During 'Cross start practice a certain female IBC rider would often get the better of most of the boys sometimes without ever gettng clipped in at all.

MASH PEDALS ARGH!

josh 10/23/2007 7:59 PM  

im with thom and ge, you can have a good start without being clipped in immeadiatly if you start going hard and clip in shortly thereafter. I did it sunday.

what works well for me usually is to do it more or less roadie style, hit it sort of with your toe (no spikes) and roll into it, like you were getting into my beloved looks. I biffed it sunday but still had a good spot off the line.

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