So, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I had ordered some new pedals for my bike. The kind you clip into. Ironically they're called clipless pedals. The reason for this is that the old style of pedals with clips are very different from these.
This is what my new pedals and shoes look like.
The spade-shaped clip that you can see on the bottom of my shoe clicks into the matching bracket on the pedal. They were quite stiff at first, but once it had managed to click in and out of them a few times they loosened up. They're also very easy to get out of. All I have to do is rotate my foot on the clip and they pop right out. That's not to say that they come off accidentally.
Hill climbing is much easier with these pedals. When I was thinking about getting this type of pedal, I was doing a lot of research online and a lot of people were saying that they make little to no difference, but that there was a little bit of an improvement on hills. My first day riding with them I went over to a quiet little subdivision nearby. It has a lot of hills. I was up my second or third one before I realized that I had yet to shift gears. To most of my friends reading this back in the flat sections of Illinois, this may not seem significant. I went through most of high school with a bike with a broken gear shifter and spent most of my time in one gear without any trouble. Dubuque, however, is HILLY. I shift gears all the time now. Being able to not only push down with one pedal, but also pull up with the other is huge. I'm still very out of shape from not doing much over the winter, but I see my road rides getting a lot easier in the future.
Here is a side view of my new shoes. Being bike shoes, they have a stiffer sole than most shoes for more efficient power transfer to the pedals in addition to having a mounting point for the clips. The main reason I chose this shoe was for the style. They're very similar to the type of sandal that I have. They slip on, but can be tightened with the elastic laces they come with. I can also wear them sock-less when it starts to get really hot. (I wore my sandals on a couple of rides last summer) The fact that they're orange and black is just icing on the cake for me. These babies are going to see a lot of use this year.