Falling off my road bike

When I was 16 my dance physio told me that on no account was I to cycle. It would make my damaged knee worse. I heeded that advice and assumed that I wasn’t able to ride a bike.

About three years ago, after chatting to a sports physiotherapist, it turned out that I probably shouldn’t have any trouble riding a bike – in terms of my knee issue anyway. I imagine the advice I was given at 16 was to protect my knee to keep me dancing rather than general advice for life. So I bought a mountain bike and tentatively cycled around a bit on that.

I don’t have any problem riding a bike. I do have a problem in that I’m very nervous – having never really cycled on the roads before. This means that my new purchase – a lovely road bike – is possibly insane. However I am really keen to do triathlon, so owning and getting to grips with a road bike is a necessary part of meeting that goal.

As soon as I bought the bike the weather took a turn for the worse so I’ve only been out on it twice. The first time I managed quite successfully to clip one foot in and out of the clipless pedals so was feeling reasonably confident. We then went out again today, and after being on the bike for about 3 minutes I tried to stop and promptly failed to unclip my foot and toppled over sideways. A process I repeated about 10 minutes later. The rest of the ride I spent terrified of stopping and getting tangled up again, so I’ve come home rather bruised and feeling a bit of a failure.

All this was made worse by the fact that my husband was using his clipless pedals and shoes for the first time and had no problems at all!

At the moment I am keeping off the roads as I’m aware that my inexperience on any kind of bike and the fact that I have taken to toppling over when I stop isn’t going to mix well with traffic. I really want to get to the point where I can just set off from home rather than having to drive, with the bike on the roof, to the relative safety of Windsor Great Park. I’d hoped that it would all go well this time and I’d be able to get out on the roads, but I think I’d better do some more practice first.

Advice most welcome on how I get past this shaky point. I’m determined that by the summer I’ll be confident and able to really enjoy the bike.

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