I fell off my bike seven times today. This riding with cleats is going to take some getting used to. It wasn't as disastrous as it could have been, and at least I have the pedals on the bike now due to a brainwave from Krissi. She called me up today and invited me over to use her mag wheel. Having the bike stationary was an easy way to get used to clipping in and out.
An added benefit was that Brad and Krissi put my pedals on for me. After seeing Brad have to make an effort to get the old pedals off I was even more pleased I hadn't tried to do it for myself.
Once the bike was up on the mag wheel it was just a matter of practising. After a while I was feeling pretty confident, so Krissi encouraged me to try reaching my water bottle too. That was easier on a stationary bike as well. The only real problem was trying to get off the bike. With the seat so high I usually lean it over to get my leg across. Not so easy when you can't tilt the bike.
Krissi thoughtfully put a Les Mills dvd on for me so that I'd have spin music going while I was cycling. LOL.
Anyway, I could have stayed and practised longer, but I decided I was confident enough to ride home. I headed off, clipped in ok, decided to clip out well away from the corner and promptly fell into a bush. Score, Kathy 1 - Bush 0. Yep, it was all torn and crumpled while I just simply suffered a slight shock. Getting myself back up was a struggle though. At least my other foot clipped out when I fell.
Once I'd brushed myself off I realised that falling off hadn't hurt all that much. Krissi had told me that everybody falls off when they get cleats but I was hoping that I'd prove the exception. She'd also told me that it wouldn't hurt as much as I feared. She was right about that too.
I got back on the bike, and rode off towards home. I decided to practice clipping in and out on the way and promptly fell off again. It wasn't too bad on the dirt path, so I climbed back on and decided to do some more practice in the park on the grass. I figured it would hurt less than falling off on bitumen or concrete.
I managed to get clipped in and out a few times, but I soon realised that trying to stop with my left foot wasn't working for me. When I'd been with Krissi we'd decided to try that, but I must be a natural right foot stopper. I managed to do the whole braking and stopping thing a couple of times and then promptly fell off trying to stop with my right foot. Yes, I'm an equal opportunity klutz.
After getting confident with my right foot I tried the left foot again. I was doing fine, until I clicked back in with my left foot in the middle of stopping. That was a classic fall, with both feet in the pedals. I got a bit stressed and couldn't get my right foot out for a while, but I was fine once I relaxed. By this stage I was covered in chain oil, scrapes, dirt and pine needles. I dread to think what any passers by were thinking. I just kept falling off, getting back on and falling off again.
Eventually I decided that I'd had enough and headed on home. I walked the bike across the road, and then decided that I was going to have to get used to falling off on bitumen. I rode through the off-street parking section, practising my stopping, and I managed to get the whole way without falling off. A car came in and parked, which had me a little stressed for a while, but they considerately slowed right down as they passed me. Maybe I looked terrified.
I walked across the next street too. In fact, I decided that I'd had enough of being brave and I was going to walk the rest of the way home, but I got myself back up on the bike again and practised clipping in and out and stopping two more times. Then I really did think that I had used up all my bravery and walked the rest of the way home.
After a shower I feel much better. I realised that I don't have any Dettol in the house for my scraped knees and elbows (only a bit scratchy, no real bleeding) so I'm going to have to buy myself a little first aid kit for the bike. I think I'll try to find smiley bandaids too. If I'm miles from home I want a giggle at least if there's any blood.
I am so grateful to Krissi that she had the mag wheel idea. If I'd tried to do this by myself I think I would have given up at the first fall because I wouldn't have trusted that I'd ever be able to clip in and out. At least I'd done it over and over before I did actually fall.
I've got two bike rides tomorrow. I'll see how stressed I am about using the cleats in the morning, as I could maybe use a bus option for the first ride. The second one is with Krissi and Kelly so I'm sure I'll be able to do that one.
I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I have a real fear of falling. I'm slowly getting more confident as my balance has improved with my core strength, however I have really lacked confidence on the bike because I was sure I'd break something when I fell. It's a relief to have fallen off and survived. Mind you, I was feeling a bit of a disaster area with all the falls, but then I realised that I'd gotten myself back on the bike seven times. Even if it's me who says so, that's pretty damn good. I'm really proud of me. :-)