For efficiency's sake, riders have always wanted to be attached to their cycles, since the action is smoother and extra power can be developed on the upstroke as well as by pushing down.
Until 15 years ago riders did this by strapping their feet to the pedal, an untidy design that was very messy in the event of a crash or surprise stop.
The system now used is similar to that used by skiers, allowing riders to push a lump of metal or "cleat" on the bottom of their shoe into the pedal.
These are held tightly while pedalling but can be quickly released by twisting the feet out sideways.
This is convenient when a bunch suddenly slows down on a climb or for mere mortals when the lights suddenly turn red on the daily ride to work.
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