I have done two sprint tris and I am doing nations. I want to get into triathlons but I am terrified of my bike! I am scared of clipping in and clipping out, I feel like I have an iron death grip on it, and I am scared to ever let go and even reach for water. Does this go away with practice?
I am new and hoping to find this club to be a supportive community where I can get over these fears!
It is something that you can work on with practice. Look for the "pensive pedalers" thread in the Bike training forum, they may be able to help with group rides.
There are a couple of things you can do in the meantime. Prop yourself up at home, either in a trainer or in a doorway where you can easily catch yourself and practice clipping in and clipping out, both feet, alternating. Next you can do some slow riding in a grassy area (Hains Point will be a good area for this) where you won't get hurt if you fall over (and everyone falls at some point), and also practice clipping in and out. The next would be to ride in an area with low traffic (again, Hains Point is good for this in the mornings before it gets busy). Clip in one pedal, ride with both, then clip both in and ride a bit. Practice clipping in and out as you ride to get used to it.
You'll discover that you have a preferred side to put a foot down on when you stop. As you start to slow down, make it a habit to automatically clip that side out so it becomes second nature to do so. As you practice this more, the skills will get more familiar and you'll get more comfortable with it.
As for the death grip, you're going to have to make a conscious effort to loosen your hands on the handlebars. Remember, your hands are there to guide the bike, hold you up, and brake when needed. Grabbing it too hard will make you stiffer, and will take away energy you could be using to pedal with instead. Take some deep breaths when you start out and if you find yourself tightening your grip too much, remind yourself to relax.
All of this gets easier in time and with more practice. Once you get to the area, look for bike rides you can do with the club, and please do ask questions on the forum, there are always club members willing to help.
I tipped over about half a dozen times during the first two weeks that I rode with clipless pedals last year. Fortunately I was always stopped at an intersection or was rolling at about 1 mph going into an intersection when I tipped. The tip about practicing in a doorway is a good way to start. Riding in a parking lot is another good time to practice clicking in and out.
Your comfort level on the bike should increase as you spend more time on the road. If your balance is a little shaky, you could do some core strength training and balance exercises at home or the gym. If you have a decent amount of strength, you could try pistol squats (one-leg squats) and one-leg Swiss ball leg curls. No weights are necessary for these. Otherwise, you could start with something simpler, like standing on one leg at a time for, say, a minute, alternating between the two legs. Planks, bridges and push-ups are other good exercises for your core. Balance out push-ups with dumbbell rows or bodyweight rows.
After that, you just need to get out there and ride a bit more. If you are worried about riding on the regular roads, you could try the bike/run multiuse trails like the Mt. Vernon Trail and then adding some time at Hains Point.
If you aren't doing so already, I would recommend wearing a pair of cycling gloves. Since it's getting warmer out, the gloves without fingers will be more comfortable. Not only will the small amount of padding make it easier to ride for longer workouts, but if you tip over and fall on the ground, the gloves will protect the skin of your hands. Better to scuff up the glove than your hand.
Nation's is a full summer away, so you have lots of time to practice. If your problems are just related to the pedals, than Will's advice is good. Also, lowering your seat (slightly, like 1/2 inch) will make you less uncomfortable when clipping in/out, since you'll be on your toes less. Remember to raise your seat to the proper height once you get comfortable, though.
If you are just uncomfortable on your bike, than I would say take off the clipless pedals and ride regular platform pedals that you can use street shoes on, or get plastic clips that let you use street shoes/cycling shoes without getting clipped in. Clipping in will take some practice, but the more you are comfortable with the bike in other respects, the easier the switch to clipless will be.
Also, since you're new to the area, definitely take advantage of the bike paths in the area, just be mindful of joggers/dog walkers that are slower than you, and cyclists that are faster than you. There are lots of places to ride, but some places (Capital Crescent, Mt. Vernon, and Custis trails) get crowded on the weekends.
it will just take practice.
practice and more practice and you will get comfortable.
just like the first time you drove a car, it was tough but now its easy.
we can all give you advice on how to do this or that, but it comes down to practicing on your own and learning to get used to your bike and comfortable doing it.
yes you may fall or such, but that is part of learning, if you feel uncomfortable, ride around in a grass field a little to get used to the pedals and such, and practice.
good luck and practice ridng the bike with clip in pedals there is no shortcut around that.
Ok take it from me. Clipn in and out takes some getting used to. Remember you slow for a stop sign, a car, a bear, unclip early. Falling doesn't hurt to bad just don't put your hand to brace or stop a fall. Your butt will end up alittle bruised with some ego but trust me you will get it, don't give up.
if you're not comfortable on the clips, there is no problem with biking on the platform pedals, you could even get the pedal cages to give you a little more leverage. If it makes you more comfortable and relaxed, it will probably make you faster too since you won't be so tentative and tense when you're riding. Once you get comfortable, try to switch to the clips but there is no rush. Plus, you might even save time in T2 since you'll have your shoes on already!