Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cycling appropriate attire - shoes

I'm a bit stubborn about some things... for cycling, I resist buying "cycling" specific attire... My attitude is probably very silly, but I just think that regular exercise gear, or regular clothing should be good enough. My typical cycling outfit, 10 or 100k, is: leggings, a short skirt, shoes, a nice icebreaker wool shirt, layered hoodies and/or windbreaker.  In the winter, I wear wool socks with thermal leggings. Oh, and I have some cycling gloves when I remember to bring them. That's about it for bicycle costuming.

The only problem I've ever really had is foot fatigue- (no need for bicycle shorts! Brooks saddles for the win.) so I would try to wear the shoes or boots that caused the least noticeable aches. Not a perfect solution, with the result that some of my regular shoes have funny markings from the clips and pedals. Taking a break and walking always alleviates the ache, or spying a very cute pony. Luckily, these things are easy enough to do.

When I finally started taking spin classes this year, the intensity of the cycling in class with no breaks or ponies, exacerbated by standing(!) while pedalling- something that I never do on the road -  made the foot problem impossible to ignore. My foot would cramp or creak very painfully in my regular running shoes.

So, I did a little research (google) and decided to find some real cycling shoes.

Yay, Bever outlet store!

I found some cycling sandals for half-off the price. Eager to test them, I wore them with socks, in public, on my ride to the lowest point in the Netherlands. The look of them, and the effect of them enabled me to ride for a few hours without wanting to take any breaks. God forbid anyone saw me like this. Oh, and my feet didn't ache at all.

Extreme dork.
Now that I know they work, I might find some that aren't extremely embarrassing to wear; especially because I can't rely on the weather ever getting warm enough to go sockless. :)

FYI, I'm not getting a clipless pedal system. I don't care about efficiency/yadda yadda, only making my feet feel better and this seems to work and will ease up the wear on my regular shoes. I did buy some cleats to try on the pedals in spin class (evoking a great joke at the bicycle store about spinners falling over like dominoes when I fail to unclip properly). The clipless system in class is fun, but it's not anything I need for my bicycle trips.


  1. You might find the clipless helps you out on the road. I was reluctant to try it, but I wanted to get more comfortable with them on my road bike (which I don't ride every day) so I thought I'd put a set on my commuter bike as well, so I would adjust to them better. I was expecting disaster, but now that I've gotten used to it, it's really quite nice.

  2. I find those 'cycle chic' blogs a bit pretentious, to tell you the truth.If they're comfy,go for it!



  3. :) socks with sandals? Definitely not chic!

  4. The problem isn't your shoes, it's your pedals. They are racing pedals to be worn with racing shoes with hard soles and cleats. They concentrate the pressure along the edges of the cage, which is thin for lightness and to engage the slot of the cleat. Eventually they will cut regular rubber soles in half, which is what they are trying to do to your feet.

    What you need are platform pedals, or even the plebeian rubber block. Something that spreads the pressure out over as much area as possible. Racers and "efficiency experts" may poo poo them, but they've been a comfort favorite of touring cyclists for many decades. Of the current offerings I favor the MKS Lambda because of the nice length of them.

    If the pedal surface is large and stiff you simply don't need over hard and stiff soles to take their place. The need is for sufficient bearing surface, not special shoes, per se.

    Oh, and socks were invented (by the ancient Egyptians) for use with sandals, no matter what the current fashionistas have to say about the matter. Wear on, Brother, er, Sister, er, Fellow Living Passenger Upon Spaceship Earth; whatever.

  5. Argh! Pedals?? Really? I've been manipulated into buying new shoes! Hey, wait, I love buying new shoes... :)
    My mixte set up doesn't have a clipless system, it has clips/toe cages and a regular touring pedal from the 80's, but not as nice as the one you mention, kfg. I'll look into trying those out... and using my stiffer shoes sans cleats.

    For Jess- I have a question- If you read my post, you'll see that I don't want to use clipless pedals, I don't ride in the racing style. I think I'm rather clear in not wanting to use clipless pedals... and putting them on my commuter would be ludicrous!
    So where does your advice come from? This is the 5th or 6th comment I've had a comment from someone that puts in a casual link to montague bicycles.

  6. The latest edition of VeloVision mentions Moto pedals, from Germany.
    See www.motobicycles.com.

    As for socks: OK with sandals provided they're not white :-).

  7. Your attitude is not silly, it is very sensible.

    I hadn't spotted it myself, but I think kfg has found the cause of your problem.

  8. I bought touring pedals! They have pins for grips and now I have little red spots up and down my shin from banging into the pedal.
    No foot pain though!

  9. It is silly to wear cleats to spin, but sandals and platform pedals to ride outside. I get the cycle chic aesthetic that differentiates itself from "racers," but there's been much progress in ergonomics and equipment most of it in recent years. Suffering for your fashion choices to not subscribe to the "efficiency" experts, just means you're suffering.

    Get a pair of comfortable cycling shoes and connect them to pedals. Then pedal in squares, if you must. Whatever you do, get comfortable.

  10. Hi Byron,
    The sandals are cycling shoes... with stiff soles and space for cleats. They aren't chic in the least, so please don't say that I"m was suffering for fashion. In fact, I was suffering fashion for the sake of comfort by wearing ugly sandals with socks.

    Again, I don't want a clipless system on my bicycle. I don't ride like that. I'm slow, I stop often and I'm clumsy. I'm perfectly comfortable with the platform pedals now AND my cycling shoes (found some nice ones that aren't sandals). No foot pain.