I think I could make a case that humiliation is the most motivating of all sensations. Last Friday, for example, as I rode into work, I hit a patch of ice as I was turning left through an intersection. I went down, hard, whacking my left knee and banging up my left elbow and wrist. My left ribs are pretty bruised, too.
The thing is, though, I didn’t notice any of the pain for several minutes, because of the nearly blinding sense of humiliation I felt — I pictured how I must look, still clipped in, trying to get untangled and upright, all while holding up traffic.
Yeah, I’m the perfect advertisement for Not Riding Bikes.
But the embarrassment of last Friday was nothing compared to the humiliation of when I first bought clipless pedals.
I had ridden the mountain bike into the shop and bought the shoes and pedals together.
Excited by the positive, locked-in feeling of riding with my feet mechanically attached to the bike, I rode around the parking lot for several minutes. I practiced clipping in, riding, and clipping out.
I became a little bit disdainful of the people who had told me that everyone falls when they first get clipless pedals. These were easy.
I started riding home. The road the bike shop was on was all torn up, in the process of being re-paved. Perfect for riding my mountain bike on. I rolled along on the dirt road, enjoying myself. I then rolled up to a stop light and put my foot down.
Except my foot wouldn’t go down.
Instantly panicking, I completely forgot about the numerous times I had calmly twisted my left foot outward to unclip. I yanked straight back and up — the way I was accustomed to with clips and straps. Once! Twice! No luck.
So I did what gravity demanded I do. I fell over on my side. With several cars behind me, and traffic zooming by in the other direction.
I then thrashed around, trying to separate myself from the bike. My panic grew as I realized the light would not remain forever.
Finally, I remembered: twist. I clicked out got up, and — being careful to not look at anyone — waited for the eternity it took for the light to turn.
Really, the only things missing for this to have been a Keystone Kops film would have been for me to have a waxed mustache and be wearing one of those derbyesque helmets.