The gate was about to drop, and I was losing my balance. Unable to unclip and catch myself, I flopped like a fish onto dry land just as the gate fell, narrowly missing the racer next to me. As the rest of the teenagers in the moto cranked away, I was left on the start hill for every spectator to watch as I wallowed on the ground and tried to get unclipped. It’s a wonder that my history with these pedals didn’t end there. The Time Zs (now ATAC DH-4) traveled with me to BMX races for years before I threaded them into the cranks of my first mountain bike. They would be battered by my novice pedal timing on the granite-strewn trails of Western Massachusetts, and go on to survive several different bikes and nearly a decade of riding all over New England.
The continuity of components from one bike to the next is something the sentimentalist in me has always been intent on. Unable to tolerate parting with a bike, I’ve convinced myself that as long as one part from my previous bike–whether it’s a headset spacer, a fork or a set of pedals–is moved over to the next that the essence, the ghost of that former bike, will somehow manifest in the latter. On some level, this is less a review and more an apologetic ode to a part whose years of dependable service and transference from bike to bike have guaranteed that I, in fact, am not a heartless bastard who brazenly moves on from one bike to the next. Of course, once I’ve wrapped all that meaning into these simple machines it hardly feels fair for them to be recognized with little more than a few written words and a spot on a shelf. And while written enshrinement is better compensation than most pedals receive, it still seems to me that the items which dutifully take us on soul-refining adventures deserve considerably more than a toss into the ‘spare’ bin.
A slight squeak emits from the right pedal when the spindle is flexed under power, and they show the bruises from every time I misjudged the height of a rock. There are even friction burns where the lugs of my shoes contacted the bodies. They’re heavy by today’s standards, and the platform doesn’t provide much benefit in comparison to the pinned bodies on modern downhill pedals, but there is to date no functional reason for the Zs to be retired. There is only my wanton desire to step outside my longtime engagement with these faithful mechanisms and sample some clipless ‘strange.’ Nostalgia may haunt me every so often and I might even consider myself heartless when I glance at my new pedals, but I can always turn to this memorial and find solace in knowing that I’ve paid my respects.