There’s a commonly held myth that Columbus believed the world to be flat. He didn’t and neither did anyone else really since about the fifteenth century. Ironically thanks to Internet democracy, the number of flat-earthers is probably now at an all time high. Still when we consider the followings for Scientology and the like, a quorum of deluded individuals – however large – makes not a rationale theory.
This is my lead into how Al’s life on flat pedals has been progressing. Most of my riding buddies rock the flat platform either from long lost youths or recent evangelical conversion. All are excellent riders flowing over lumps and lobbing themselves with careless abandon into summer air. This is frankly a bit irritating, especially as at no time is the lament ‘arrrghhh I’ve spiked my shins‘ heard on attempting to crest a tiny obstacle.
Well only from the earth bound misfit here. After one ride, it was like ground zero at an acupuncturists’ convention. My lower legs bore the aftermath of a frenzied hedgehog attack fired from bazookas. I was all mental trauma and scar tissue in the pursuit of another myth known as flow. I wasn’t flowing at all, the blood was but I certainly wasn’t – travelling cautiously slower and slower until the pub finally brought an end to the misery.
Giving up was an option. Back to SPD’s and accept that seven years is a long time in mountain biking. Especially with withered reflexes and a head full of over-thinking. But no, the standard Al-response to any such problem is to buy a way around the issue. New flat pedals and some rather funky blue sticky shoes played well to my Emelda complex and stuck feet to pins in an almost SPD like embrace.
Except over jumps and drops. At that point, the gap between pedals and feet was far greater than wheel and dirt. Gifted individuals including the-mighty-beard took time to explain heels needed to be dropped, ankles softened, commitments made. Through sheer gritted-teeth bloody mindedness over a few rides, incremental improvements ensure feet stay mostly in the right place but confidence is not.
It’s definitely over-thinking. And worrying about a visit from Mr. Mong and His Rocky Accomplices that is messing with my head. A mild epiphanic moment occurred over a drop where the bike went up and my feet stayed down, but it still didn’t feel as good as being clipped in. The frustration is flats allow you to pump the bike more, it’s more of an organic experience when you’re not attached to the bike. Uphill it doesn’t make a lot of difference surprisingly, and since flats are for mountains and mountains have chairlifts, it wouldn’t matter if they did.
I’ve deliberately stayed away from the SPD equipped Solaris and ridden nothing but the Rocket for six weeks. And I still find it hard bike to love. It starts to make perfect sense at speeds/levels of peril that I really don’t want to be involved in. If this were some kind of real relationship we’d be firmly in the realms of ‘it’s not you, it’s me‘. It’s a fantastically well engineered bike with everything you need for any kind of challenging terrain built in a shape that fits me perfectly. Maybe I’m just not brave enough.
Being a bit solution obsessed, I’ve decided to hedge. Two sets of pedals and shoes shall take up valuable boot space in the Alps-Mobile. The only decision now is which one shall be on the bike for PPDS. I’m delusionally hopeful the whole bike/mountains/setup thing will come together riding seven days on amazing trails under (please let it be) glorious sunshine.
Honestly tho, it’d be easier just to change the rider 😉