Pedal Strike

Pedal Strike header image 2

June 30th, 2009

flopsy cranks

Handshakes. The first physical contact with a stranger you’re supposed to like. A strange social greeting with which you can gauge the other person’s social confidence.

Well, at least if the hand offered to you is limp, slightly damp and hardly makes an effort to grip your hand. There’s almost nothing worse. It leaves me mentally recoiling, searching for the first opportunity to wipe my hand somewhere without anyone noticing. Unconsciously I usually end up pushing the hair out of my eyes, then almost getting dizzy with panic at the thought of limp handshake sweat near my face.

It’s the worst. I think most people would agree.

So it was kind of surprising that that was the first thing I thought of when I finally switched back to the freewheel last week. I had only been riding on the fixed side for about two weeks, but when I hopped back onto my bike, my cranks were positively floppy.


And limp…! Lacking the resistance of a fixed cog, I was lurching around on the street, silently freaking out at the unfamiliar feel of a bike that seemed much looser. And consequently much harder to control.

It took about a block or two until my legs finally understood that pushing back on the pedals did nothing except result in small spurts of terror as the bike continued forward. I consciously had to force myself to coast and stop pedaling when descending. And I was back to dragging my bike up the hills, no momentum pushing my pedals up.

But heading home from work last night, I weaved through a few cars and squeezed though some tight spots, remembering a few weeks ago how I split lanes for the first time in NYC. And while I was fixed then, I realized I was using my brakes to crawl forward on my freewheel, something I know I couldn’t have done [without crashing] a year ago.


Stopped at a light, I watched a guy on a yellow IF ratchet his pedals, his cleated feet never touching the ground. I still can’t do a trackstand to save my life, so I opted just to watch, leaning on my handlebars, half sitting on my top tube. The light turned green and a small hill was up ahead.

I beat him on the way up. Then got my ass handed to me on the way down. It’s the small things, I guess.

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