I know I'm not the only one with this problem. The first time I tried a cycling class, the instructor helped me get my feet, clad in borrowed cycling shoes, attached to the pedals. The second time, I was on my own, and spent two full songs smushing my feet against the pedals in the dark and praying for some kind of miracle.
Specialised cycling shoes usually use cleats on the bottom of the shoes, and a matching spring-loaded clip on the pedal. SPD cleats are the most common type you're likely to see in classes. (Pro tip: These are called "clipless" pedals, even though you have to clip in, because clips, AKA toe clips, are something else entirely.)
The video above should help demystify clipless pedals for a beginner such as me, or help you clip in faster and more smoothly if you already kind of know how to do it. Here are the key tips to take away:
- Pick one side, and only learn on that side.
- The sequence of actions is: Flip the pedal over, stick the front of your cleat into the front of the clip, and then push down to secure the back of the cleat.
- Start the process as the pedal comes up toward the top of the cycle, around 10 o'clock if the pedal is moving clockwise.
- Crank up the resistance (or, on a real bike, start in a harder gear).
These tips should help you avoid that awkwardness at the beginning of an indoor cycling class. Once you really get the hang of it, consider taking your newfound confidence out on the road!