Cycling Series: One Cleat

In case you don’t already know this about me, I used to love to go for very long bicycle rides.

Fun facts: My older brother taught me how to ride a bike. I’ve been riding bikes longer than I’ve been dancing ballet, by almost 2 years. I never used training wheels. 

It has been overwhelmingly frustrating not to be able to ride my bike.

Technically, I have been riding my bike. On a trainer, in my parents’ living room. For therapy/rehab for my dumb leg. I don’t count this as actually “riding” my bike.

I tried last autumn to ride around my parents’ neighborhood. It’s a 2.9 mile loop. I could never make it more than once around. My right leg wouldn’t tolerate the pressure and it would launch itself into convulsions and the pain was horrific.

Back on the trainer my bike went.

And I sat there, spinning, pouting, staring at the wall, and thinking: there must be a solution.

I had been considering swapping my left pedal so that I could “clip in” on that side. I thought that I could do most of the work with my left leg. You see, the cleat clips into the pedal and would allow me to pull up on the pedal with my left foot so that I wouldn’t have to push down so hard with my right foot.

The glaring downside to this plan would be developing even greater degrees of muscular imbalances between my right side (formerly my “strong” side) and my left side. But these imbalances are happening anyway- gradually, naturally- as I adapt to find ways to accommodate and compensate for my CRPS. The nature of CRPS is degenerative anyway, so…

But here’s my thinking… If I can pedal with the left foot, using brute strength, the right foot can just go along for the ride. I could stand to gain added safe movement of the ankle joint without excruciating pressure. And I would have the freedom to push with the right foot when it is behaving, and I would have the ability to take the burden off when it gets tired.

I happened to mention my plan to a friend, and in the mail one day came a surprise: pedals!

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It was time to put the plan into action and test my theory.

Fun fact: I know my way around a bike. I spent the summer before my senior year in college working in a bike shop in Manhattan Beach, CA. I did standard tune-ups and assemblies. 

Within minutes, I had the new pedal on my bike.

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Holy crap. This might actually work!

 

 

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