Last fall here, I wrote about my plans of buying clipless pedals for my road bicycle and learning how to use them on a trainer in the living room during the winter. That way, while I practiced getting my feet on and off the pedals, the trainer would hold the bike upright, stopping me from falling.

For one reason or another, I waited until late April to buy the pedals and haven’t had this much fun — and bruises and cuts — since playing football. Of course, “fun” is a feeble attempt at facetiousness.

And, just as a quick digression, “clipless” strikes me as a misnomer. Bicycle shoes attach to the pedals via cleats that make a metallic “snap” when each one connects, reminding me of ski bindings and boots. To free the shoes, the pedaler turns the heel of the foot outward, easier said than done.

The ski-boot/bike-shoe analogy has merit when a cyclist falls with feet stuck to clipless pedals. The bike shoes come free of the pedals, which have kept me from injuring a joint, tendon or muscle — so far anyway.

In April, a helpful expert at L.L. Bean’s bicycle shop sold me Shimano Ultegra pedals and suggested — strongly — to practice on a trainer until I could take my feet off the pedals instantly when someone hollered “now.” This was great advice, but unfortunately, I did not follow it 100 percent.

On the trainer, learning to attach my shoes to the pedals took scant minutes. I can hook the shoes to clipless pedals much easier than sliding a shoe into toe clips and straps.

Removing my feet from the pedals required a much longer learning curve, and worse yet, being a natural-born knot head, I hit the road without mastering that part, leading to occasional crashes.

For example, the day before writing this column, a car came up the highway behind me and turned right onto another road, cutting in front of my bicycle and causing me to jam on the brakes to avoid slamming into the passenger door. I could free neither foot so I fell into an ignominious heap.

Then, that day, a second fall occurred in my driveway of all places when my feet again stuck. I coasted to a grassy bank, stopped and flopped.

The landing was soft, but in my second attempt that morning of keeping the composite-framed bicycle from hitting the ground so as not to damage it, the larger chain ring sliced the inside of my right knee and imbedded dirty lubricant into the minor wound.

Why would anyone but a masochist bother with clipless pedals? The answers: sprinting speed and far better climbing efficiency.

Clipless pedals give the rider maximum power transfer to the drive train, instantly noticeable. While pedaling, the bicyclist pushes down on the pedal with one leg while pulling up with the other leg at the same time, increasing mph big time, particularly on flats and hills.

For example, with my old toe-clip-and-strap pedals, I normally climbed a hill near my home at 8 to 9 mph. With the clipless, I do it at 12 to 13 mph without even trying, a significant increase that will be up to 15 mph soon.

My speed has improved significantly on flats, and with a slight effort, I can easily pedal in the 20-mph range without my tongue hanging out.

Here’s one reason I was eager to hit the road before being ready: My bicycle with the clipless pedals also has new Vittoria Rubino Pro tires that hold 145 pounds per square inch of air — a very fast tire.

These speedsters were begging to be used, and if worse came to worst, I reasoned, I could stop on the edge of pavement and fall painlessly onto grass or gravel.

Clipless pedals have caused me to fall, but so far, the power advantage makes me wish I bought this style years ago. If folks are thinking of going clipless, my experiences shouldn’t discourage them, either. I’m older than most cyclists and require a longer learning curve.

Meteorologists are calling for a week of rain, beginning the day after writing this column. I shall put my trainer to good use in that time and hopefully master the great unhook.

Ken Allen, of Belgrade Lakes, is a writer, editor and photographer.

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