In 2013 I took up road cycling as a means of exercise. Living in a community blessed with a growing public trail system and bike lanes on several city streets, this is a method of exercise that I enjoy. I quickly learned that having the right equipment can enhance the cycling experience. This includes having a good helmet, a well working bike, and the right pedals and shoes. The pedals you want are the kind where your shoes “clip in” keeping your feet from slipping off, and giving you a secure connection where you are “one with the bike”. “Efficiency, power, confidence, control and freedom” are all listed reasons one would consider being “clipped in”.
Having read some of the websites and talked with a bike shop salesman, I was sold. I purchased my own set of bike shoes with pedals to fit and got ready to embark on a “clipped in” experience. Do you know what happened? Once I mounted my bike, “clipping in” to my pedals I almost immediately lost my balance and fell over, landing squarely on my shoulder. The problem was that while I had mastered clipping in, I had not master unclipping a foot from one of the pedals. So, even though I was trying to get my foot unclipped, by the time I did it was too late and I was a goner – SPLAT! Ouch!!
The irony of this is that the bike shop guy told me this would probably happen. He said it happens to almost everyone at first. Figuring I would be the exception, I was still surprised when it happened to me. Not wanting a repeat performance I commenced cycling with one foot unclipped for quite a while. Until, finally I felt confident enough to kick my balance foot free of the pedal’s clips anytime I needed to come to a stop.
It seems the advertisement for these type of pedals ought to contain some verbiage about risk. “Warning! High risk of falling while becoming oriented to pedals.” But, I suppose such warning would scare people away and thus reduce the volume of pedals sold. Yet, if the warning were worded not just in the language of risk, but also reward, maybe this could be overcome. “Warning! This product presents a slight risk of falling, however, the reward is far greater for those who want an enhanced cycling experience.”
I would buy that line. It’s been my experience. It would be difficult to go back to pedals that did not provide the means to “clip in” now that I’m used to those that do. There is something to those promises of “efficiency, power, confidence, control and freedom”.
In all the years since that first fall I have only repeated a fall one other time, when I was going too slow on my bike alongside someone who was walking. I lost my balance on the uneven terrain and slowly fell over – this time on the opposite shoulder. Equal opportunity ouch!
So, what’s the point? If you’ve followed my writing for any length of time, you know by now that I’m setting up a metaphor to draw a comparison to another facet of life. Yes, I am! Which carries more weight in your deliberations? Risk or reward? Can you counterbalance an element of risk in the face of a greater reward? Or, do you do your best to life a “risk-free” life? (Would that there were such a thing!).
I’ve just shown you my hand. I think all of life has some element of risk. It’s a risk to drive a car to work. There’s risk in traveling across the country for a vacation. Over the past months we’ve experienced warnings about the risks to our health and safety left and right. Yet, there is also reward in my examples. Travel risks are offset by vacation rewards – rest, relaxation and renewal. Driving a car is much faster than walking. And, re-engagement with others, after a pandemic, with proper precaution, has proven vastly rewarding to many.
“Clipping in” to life, so to speak, is about acknowledging it comes with some risk, but with faith that the rewards will be greater. Allowing the risks of life to keep us from “clipping in” is acceptance of a less than abundant life (cycling) experience.
So, what have you been contemplating when it comes to “clipping in”? What activity, decision, action or behavior change have you been considering, maybe even longing for, when it comes to assuming some risk? How will you gauge whether to give more weight to the risk or the reward? What will it take for you to “clip in”?