Getting A Little Serious About Cycling

I've been riding bicycles for many years but since the beginning of this year, I decided to get a little serious and started commuting to work on my bike. The distance between my home and work is about 11 to 12 miles round trip and it has been a great way to get some exercise while saving some money on gas.  In general, I find myself really enjoying riding more and more and I try to make extra time to ride even in my spare times.

I've ridden many different bicycles all my life including mountain bikes, road bikes, hybrids and others but never ridden one which required a pair of clipless cycling shoes. But recently I bought a pre-owned or used road bike, a 2002 Bianchi Imola that came with clip-less pedals.

What are clipless pedals?
Clipless pedals are actually a system comprised of special pedals and cleats, devices included with the pedals that attach to the soles of clipless cycling shoes. This means that you need to select pedals and shoes in order to upgrade to a clipless system. My bike came with a pair of clipless Ritchey SPD(Shimano Pedal Dynamics) pedals.

With the clipless pedals still on the bike, I decided to just ride it with normal shoes. I did this on a couple of outings and decided I needed to get a pair of cycling shoes soon or change the pedals so that they were more suitable for normal shoes.

I never owned a pair of cycling shoes, so initially, I was somewhat reluctant about committing to  getting a pair.  But once I decided, the quest for finding the right pair became quite a daunting task. It wasn't until I started searching on the internet and learning about different pedals and shoes that I became somewhat overwhelmed with all the choices that were available, not to mention having to convert European sizes to the US; turns out that the same number of European size for one brand is different from another brand if you were to convert to the US size. Once you've narrowed your search to a particular brand, style and the size, you also have to make sure that you have the right type of "cleats" to go with the pedals you have.

What are cleats?
As mentioned, cleats are devices that attach to the soles of clipless cycling shoes. These cleats are designed to click onto the corresponding pedals. When you buy a new set of pedals, a set of cleats are generally included. There are a few different types of clipless shoes you can choose from but most popular clipless shoes use either a 3-hole or 2-hole cleat system. Each shoes are compatible with either one type of cleat system or the other. For example, the cycling shoes that I would need for the Ritchey pedals that came with my bike is a 2-hole SPD cleat system but the same shoes would not be compatible with other pedals that are made to fit 3 hole cleat system such as SPD-SL, Time, LOOK.
Some Benefits for using clipless pedals:
Once you have the cleats bolted to your shoes and the clipless pedals on your bicycle, you simply put on your new shoes and step on the pedals to click your feet securely in place. When engaged, your feet are connected to the pedals for optimum efficiency. And your feet won't come off the pedals unless you want them to. To get out, you swing your heels to the outside as if you're getting ready to put your feet down, and the pedals release.

Because your feet are locked into the pedals when riding, you have more power throughout the pedal stroke both as you rotate down and up. Clipless pedals also give you more control by letting you use your feet for maneuvers such as hopping pavement cracks, railroad tracks and more exciting obstacles if you're riding off road. All clipless pedals are easy to dismount quickly so no worries about your feet getting stuck when trying to get your feet down and land safely.

Eventually, I decided to change the pedals to a 3 hole cleat system and bought a pair of cycling shoes that corresponded. I ended up geting a pair of Shimano PD-5700 105 Road Bike Pedals in silver finish online(still waiting to be delivered). These pedals are not the most lightest nor most advanced pedals out there but I think it would provide a solid ride for someone like myself who's trying it out for the very first time. Besides, all the other components on my bike is Shimano 105 so it fits as a groupset. I was also able to find a decent pair of Sidi Laser cycling shoes in my size from a local Craigslist seller yesterday. Can't wait to try them out!

Shimano PD-5700 105 Road Bike Pedals Silver

Sidi Laser

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