Lesson’s Learned from Toe Clips and a Face Plant

bikefallSeveral years ago, my wife gave me a pair of bicycle toe clips for Christmas. I thought it was because she loved me. I will never forget my first ride. I felt like a sleeping cow at a high school senior party. I tipped over five times.

For the uninformed, toe clips attach your foot to the pedals FOREVER! Oh, they say you can get out, but it’s a lie. You can only get out if you are sitting quietly on the bike in the bike shop. In real life you can’t get out of the clips.

If you have any doubt about the panic this causes, have a friend nail your feet to a skateboard and then shove you sideways. Hurts doesn’t it? Now have your friend do this in traffic.

You are never moving very fast when you fall because it only happens when you start and stop. That means at stop signs and intersections, where people and cars congregate. At one point I found myself lying upside down in the middle of an intersection.

Traffic came to a dead stop. Honking horns. Incredulous stares. Finally the cars just slowly made their way around me. With my skin-tight pants, colorful helmet, glittering chrome bike, and
blood all in mashed into one neat little package of squirming humiliation, I must have looked like some pathetic form of techno-road kill.

I finally almost made it home when I saw friends walking along the road. I prayed they wouldn’t recognize me, but no, they called my name. I applied the brakes, stopped beside them and then slowly tipped over at their feet. It made for good conversation. That is if “please help me” is considered good conversation.

Since I always try to draw some practical lesson from my experiences, here is what I have come up with.

  1. If your wife gives you bike clips, find a private investigator and double check to see if she has taken out a huge insurance policy on your life.
  2. If you decide to ride with bike clips, start on a downhill slope and don’t stop. If you stop, you will fall.
  3. Do the entire ride in seclusion!

Several friends told me to try again. They said it gets easier. I showed up at their house… with a hammer, some nails and a skate board. But they were right. After several falls and a plethora of bruises I now can start, ride and stop without falling.

[reminder]I would love to hear the stories of your challenges when trying something new.  Did you stick with it?[/reminder]


  1. Ken, I bought myself a fancy new road bike two years ago. It came with clip on pedals and fancy shoes. I was told that everybody experiences a fall with these and it is memorable but when it happens it is important to learn from it what not to do. I was SO proud of myself for riding for the first year without falling at all! When I was on my return leg of my first ride of the second season…I saw four deer grazing nearby so I took out my iPhone and road slowly towards them while shooting video. You see it don’t you? Well when I got as close as I could I slowed to a stop and still intent on the video that was still rolling…..I forgot the strategy about getting out of the pedals before you come to a complete stop!!! I was on my elbow and butt before I knew what happened. I am proud to say that the video captured the whole thing though! And all of that without cursing!!! I feel your pain brother!

    1. I think that at least once during a fall a tiny anticipatory curse might have passed my lips. You you have be beat. Your story made me laugh out loud. The lesson is clear. Don’t text or video while biking. Love having you be a part of the conversation. Thanks Kevin.

  2. Hi Ken, This summer I began to ride a bicycle to lose weight. After several months I had an unsavory visit by Mr. Hemorrhoid so I had to quit riding. So now I walk. I asked God what the deal was. He showed me that when I rode a bike I couldn’t jot down the jokes that He was telling me. Now I walk for exercise and write down the funny things that God says. Now if I could just figure out how to walk, write and not smash into telephone poles I’ll be doing fine. Thanks for your inspiration.

    1. I introduced Mr Hemorrhoid to Mr Preparation H……. I still ride bike. I have a friend does all his studies to become a Physicians Assistant while walking. It’s a good use of time. Thanks for your comment John.

  3. This blog made me laugh out LOUD – in the middle of Starbucks. I must look like an idiot….not as bad as being upside down in an intersection though. 🙂

  4. I did the same thing once at the dismount line of a triathlon in front of hundreds of spectators. Very embarrassed but I have kept on racing. My wife got a stress fracture while trying a running group for the first time. The jury is still out on her running. However, it is all better than poor health from a sedentary lifestyle.

  5. One of the very first times I played a “Commander” match with a group of friends, it was late, I was tired, and I made the mistake of shuffling my Commander back into my deck. I don’t remember the exact circumstances of why I was shuffling things into my deck, but I distinctly remember that the Commander was one of the cards I WASN’T supposed to shuffle.

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