Shimano Road Pedals Jan08

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Shimano Road Pedals

It was the existentialist poet and avid cyclist Donald Rumsfeld who described in his magnum opus, Press Briefing Feb 12, 2002, that there are things that we know and things that we don’t know. But “there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.” As the war in Iraq rages on, I’ve come to realize that he was not talking about military intelligence at all. He was talking about road bike pedals.

See, I knew about pedals. I’ve used them almost as long as I’ve been riding bikes. I put my feet on them when pedal. They give me leverage. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s what Rumsfeld calls “a known known”. I’ve also known that a different kind of pedal existed. A pedal exclusively for road bikes. This pedal was what Rumsfeld would call a known unknown. That is, it was a pedal I knew that I knew nothing about. Except that I would have to have another pair of shoes with different cleats. And I hate that. Because I’m cheap and lazy. The fact that I am cheap and lazy is also a known known.

But my happiness with owning a pair of road pedals was one of Rumsfeld’s unknown unknowns. I had no idea that I didn’t know that they would make me so happy. What makes them good? These things:

1. They make me walk funnier. And everyone loves a clown.
2. They click more when I engage or disengage. They click loud enough that I know feel comfortable saying “enGAGE” really loud, like Captain Jean Luc Picard on Star Trek*. It seemed silly to do that with the whispy snap of my old SPD pedals.
3. They have a lot more surface area for my feet. See the graphic for reference:

So thank you, Donald Rumsfeld, for opening my eyes to both poetry and the magic of the road pedal. I will never not know what I don’t know again.

* This seems like a fitting time to expose that I have never seen a single episode of any Star Trek series. My only exposure to Star Trek is the fourth movie (with the whales) and this funny internet video.


Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.