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Used to be a flat pedal only rider... then I started enduro racing, So I switched to clips. I hated them and switched back almost immediately and was all like "Pfft flat pedals win medals bro!" But later realized I didn't give them enough time or really get my shoe/pedal interface dialed in. So I gave it another shot about a year later and committed to the switch until I was comfortable.
It's been two (or three?) years now... I am definitely faster in a race on clips. I can trust that my feet will always be where I need them no matter how tired I am or if I've had a "moment" and unclipped and now clipping back in. I hate flats in a race for that reason... even though I need to have a locked in flats feeling to be able to race hard, if I'm racing on flats I tend to take a foot off more and then sometimes won't get it back exactly where I want it yet I need to keep hammering to not waste time. But the weird position means I'm compromised and slower, and need to wait for a break in pedaling or terrain to adjust properly... or I slow down and take a second to adjust... which also makes me slower. Clips win here. Also because enduro races almost never have the kind of gnar that I prefer flats on.
But, when I'm not racing I'm generally searching out gnarly lines... and even after 2 or 3 years on clips and even using worn out easy release cleats, I'm still not as comfortable on clips as I am on flats on really technical gnar. I guess a lot of it is psychological for me.. but I miss having the option to either, without a moments notice, fully bail out of a line in anyway I choose, even if that means jumping forward over my handlebars... haha, or eject and toss the bike aside. Admittedly these situations probably don't or won't happen as much (or at all) as they did back in say, 2008. But it seems my mind is truly stuck in 2008 and I at least need to have those option in order to be as confident as I possibly can be. I still almost never ride flats, but the other day I realized I need to try them again because I've started unclipping and using my clips like flats for some really gnarly lines, ha! Which probably just makes things worse over all.
Also, I've never really gotten over the sacrifices the locked in cleat position has forced upon me. Even though I run my cleats all the way back in my Giro Chamber II's, I'd like an even further back true mid-foot position for proper descending. But, at the same time, I also like to be closer to the ball of my foot for pedaling/climbing than my current position. The really nice thing about flats is that you can have a truly infinite range of foot positions depending on the terrain.
Hmm, think I just decided to put my flats back on my bike.... and then depending on how things go would probably put the clips back on for racing. (If or when racing happens again?)
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