Club Tombay

Regular readers of Bike Forums will know what I’m getting at here. I joined Club Tombay on my ride today — that is, I had a clipless fall.

Tomber is the French word for “to fall.” It is pronounced, of course, tohm-BAY. We Americans corrupt it into TOM-bay.

Anyhow, I was having a great Fourth of July ride. Pat and I started off together, but after one loop of the Veloway, she decided to head for home. I kept going, and figured I’d do about 25 miles or so.

I had just turned onto a street that leads through a residential area. It’s a hilly street, and although it’s a thorofare, it is lightly traveled. At the top of a challenging hill is a cross street with a stop sign. There were cars at the intersection, and I slowed to stop.

For some reason, I lost all my concentration. I usually disengage the pedal well before a stop, but this time I stayed clipped in while I downshifted one more time. I was slowed to a creep. The bike drifted toward the curb. I turned the front wheel slightly to the right, to maintain my balance. It hit the curb, and slid along it for a few feet while I felt the familiar, sinking feeling of going down and not being able to do anything about it.

No damage done, except to my pride and self-esteem. The driver of the car that had pulled up next to me at the stop sign looked at me like I was some kind of alien from another planet. The bar tape on the end of the right handlebar was scuffed, and the bar end button had come off. I picked it up to replace it, but dropped it, and it bounced around in the gutter before rolling into the middle of the street. Now, the remaining two cars in the intersection could watch me as I nearly fell over the bike in the other direction while grabbing at the plastic button. I finally got it, and pretended to be an expert bike mechanic while I replaced it in front of my small audience.

I got right back up on the horse, and bent it to my will as I finished my ride. Even did an extra mile and a half, just to show it who is its Lord and Master. I suppose there will be more of these, but I prefer them when they happen in my driveway, out of the glare of the public eye.


  1. says

    Been there done that. :) With toe clips. I can’t recall having done it with clipless. I have fallen a few times of course. But not due to the clips. I think all my falls have been in inclement weather. What should that tell me?

    I tell people it is good to get that first fall out of the way. After that you realize that aren’t as bad as you think they will be.

  2. says

    I’ve been working on track standing at lights lately. Because of this I’ve had a couple of REALLY close calls…but so far I haven’t completely gone down yet. A couple of days ago I caught myself at about a 45 degree angle to the ground…thanks to mountain biking I can get out of my pedals fast!

  3. Dana says

    I’ve been riding with clipless pedals for about 2 years now and luckily have never had a fall with them – a couple close calls but no falls. It will come one day, I know it will. We as cyclists understand it happens to all of us at one point or another, I don’t care how good a cyclist you are.

    I don’t think a lot of people realize that we cyclists actually “clip” in and are “locked” to our pedals.

  4. says

    It happens to everyone, but it doesn’t make it less embarrassing. After a lunch time ride with co-workers, I was circling at very slow speed in the parking lot, and fell right in front of our main conference room windows. I felt more than a little silly.

  5. says

    Hey Ray, Congratulations on a great blog. I am a nearly 50-something (next year) who also bought their first road bike fairly recently (I think about 18 months ago now) and am loving it.

    I’m happy to contribute to your international “hits” as I’m in Melbourne, Australia.

    I rode the road bike for a while with conventional pedals, then put clipless on in January of this year. I’ve joined Club Tombay three times over since then, but have been fortunate that on all three occassions there was no one else around.

    Anyway, I’m adding your blog to my bloglines feeds – hope to be a regular reader!

  6. rainycamp says

    Thanks for weighing in, everyone. It’s always good to know you’re not alone in embarrassing yourself.
    Ajh, welcome aboard. I seem to have several regulars who check in from Melbourne. I’m adding your blog to my feedreader as well.

  7. Dave says

    Managed mine in front of about 200 girls at a high school bus stop. To make it worse, the first thing I heard was “ohhh,.. look at the poor old guy …”

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