Thursday, September 30, 2010

Cleat Repeat

I spent 2 days trying out new cleats on my bike shoes. I was long overdue.

I couldn't get the cleats to fit right. First my knee would be popping, so I'd stop and adjust my shoe. Then my ankle would feel twisty. Stop, adjust again, and something else would be out of whack.

My bike was being shipped out in 2 days and it was essentially un-ridable. If my legs hurt after 3 miles, what would happen after 112? I made my standard panic calls to Jon and Gerald asking them about shoe fittings. They basically both said that I probably picked up bad habits with the old cleats, and that the new ones were probably fine but that I just had to let my legs "learn" the new fit.

That seemed like a big risk. "Maybe" I could adapt to the new cleats in 1 week- I took the pedals off my race bike so I could use them on my old bike, thinking I could practice with them for an extra week before I flew out. But then I had a crazy thought: if my new pedals were causing me problems, why not play it safe and just go back to my old pedals?

It's kind of scary/funny: when I took the new cleats back off and compared them to my old ones, I actually thought they were two different models. The old ones had been worn down so much that they were about half as thick as the new ones.

I wanted to install my old cleats in exactly the same position they were in before. First I had to figure out which cleat went with which shoe. That was easy: I use a lot of Carbo-pro mixed with Hawaiian Punch on my rides, and it always splatters on the same side of my bike. One of my shoes had red stains on it; one of my cleats had red stains on it. A match.

The washers were pretty much molded into the plastic, so they were locked in place. And there was so much wear on them that it was very easy to see exactly where the bolts used to be. It was a very simple repair.

It still felt a little funny to ride my bike, but I think that's because I truly "injured" my leg with the old cleats. (I don't want to exaggerate the pain, it was more discomfort than anything, but it was very noticeable for two straight days.) I think I'm good to go, although I did notice an actual crack in one of my old cleats. There is a non-zero chance that it will explode at some point during the race in Hawaii, so as a precaution I will be one of the very few riders with a spare set of cleats with me on the course.


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