CCM Diary: Kneesavers

My quads were sorer than I expected on this morning’s bike ride. Yesterday’s run might’ve been a little harder on my body than I thought it was. That’s disconcerting to think about, so I won’t.

Now that I’m doing more biking, I’ve been thinking about buying a set of “clipless” pedals and bike shoes. Confusingly, “clipless” doesn’t really mean clipless.  You still clip in, but you use a cleat system and special bike shoes instead of toe clips and regular shoes.

I have toe clips on my pedals now.  I don’t keep the straps snug enough to hold my feet tightly, so they aren’t as effective as they could be.  “Clipless” pedal systems lock your feet to your pedals.  That makes the transfer of power from your legs to your bike much more efficient, if everything lines up right. Unfortunately, if everything doesn’t line up right the fact that your feet are locked to your pedals in a single position can make any problems you have worse.

I’m sort of duck footed – both my feet point out, the right more than the left. This causes some problems when I’m biking (and running, too).  If I’m locked in to pedals that don’t accommodate my natural foot position, my knees are forced to twist and wobble from side to side quite a bit as I ride.

I tried clipless pedals once before, and they made my problems worse.  I even went to the bike shop to have my bike fitted by a so-called expert, but his adjustments didn’t help.

Before I go and spend a lot of money on bike shoes and the pedals to go with them, I figured I’d try a few ideas using the pedals and toe clips that I have now and see if I can improve my comfort level. If I can find a more satisfactory setup, then I’ll see if I can find shoes and cleats to match up with what works for me.

Before today’s ride, I installed a set of Kneesavers pedal extenders. Pedal extenders go between your pedal and the crank to move your pedal out farther away from the bike frame.   They give me enough room to put my feet on my pedals in their more natural toed-out position without banging my heel against the crank.

Kneesavers come in different lengths.  Since my feet splay out quite a bit, I got the largest size, 30mm.  I’m using toe clips instead of cleats, so getting the perfect size wasn’t critical.  I can slide my foot from side to side on my pedal if I need to.

The pedal extenders seem to help (at $45 for what are essentially two 9/16″ bolts, they’d better).  The wider pedal position felt a little weird at first, but I got used to it within a few miles.  My left leg still wanders more than the right leg.  I think adding a thicker lateral wedge to the outside of my left forefoot will help stabilize the leg. I’ll try that on my next ride.

(15.9 mi. bike; 147.5#; Week 9 RunEQ = 39 mi.)

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