Cycling Shoes

May 20, 2005

When I started riding in organized cycling events, I was always amazed at the guys with big, fat guts that could ride up and down hills like mother---ers with motors. How did they get so fit, but manage to stay fat?

I don't really know how mother nature lets that happen, but I'm a walking/peddling laboratory for study of the phenomenon. I'm at least 15-20 pounds over my ideal weight, and I'm five pounds of pure gut over the heaviest that I've ever been. (If you've seen me and don't think this could be, then you should see me clad in some tight synthetic cycling gear. It ain't pretty.)


But even so, I'm knocking out my ususal 40 minute rides in 35 minutes. There's a short hill near my house that I like to sprint up. My goal has usually been to keep my speed above 14 mph going up, but on my last two rides, I've topped 17.

I guess with another 20 pounds on my belly, I'll be ready to start racing. Who's bringing the Krispy Kreme's to the office tomorrow?

I had gotten some new cycling shoes early this year. The way cycling shoes work nowdays is that they have clips that snap in to a binding on the pedal, similar to a really small ski boot cliping into the ski. This system is called a "clipless" pedal, presumably by a non-English speaking person who didn't know the usual meaning of the suffix "-less."

This clipless pedal arrangement allows you to fall sideways after coasting to a smooth stop, or in extreme cases, it allows your bicycle to twist your ankle to an unnatural angle, a la Joe Thiesman's knee.

Anyway, the clips for the bottom of the shoe come with the pedal rather than with the shoe. My old clips were pretty much rusted to their screws, which were in turn rusted to the old shoes. So I went and bought some new clips. Little did I know what an ordeal it would be.

An incidental note for Baton Rougeans: the cycling shop on Florida Boulevard near airline is a fine place to go by dolls, but don't expect to find clips for your shoes there.

It turns out that the little screws that connect the clips were just barely too short to reach the sockets for the screws in the bottom of the shoes. Odd, I thought all of this was standard.

I went back to the shop where I bought the clips. They just had standard screw sizes -- nothing an eighth of an inch longer. The guy did a little poking around, and realized that the metal plates in the bottom of the shoes had been put in upside down.

The plates had little volcano shaped flanges that were supposed to reach out of the bottom of the shoe to accept the screws. Instead, they were pointed up, so that the volcano flanges could dig into the bottom of the foot. I bet that would feel real good after a three-hour ride.

I went home, and figured out how to get the plates out. I had to cut the fabric liner at the bottom of the shoe. The metal was curved to fit the way that a foot flexes, so I had to bend it. I did my best to make it into the best approximation of that same curve, but facing the other way.

This wasn't a scientific process. As tools, I used two pairs of pliers, and my eyeballs to measure the curve. What an ordeal.

When I inserted my re-engineered metal plates and closed up the bottom of the inside of the shoe, the clips went right on. On one shoe. The screws for the second shoe were completely lost by this time.

So I found myself back at the bike shop, begging for more standard screws. To make it seem like I wasn't there for a handout, and because I really needed it, I picked up a tire pump to buy when I checked out. Unfortunately, the shop I chose didn't have any screws. Yes, it was the shop with the dolls.

When I was almost home, I thought to myself, "shoot, I didn't buy that pump." I really did need that pump. I looked behind me, and there was the pump in the back seat. Stolen. I was cruising around town with a hot bicycle pump.

I really didn't want to go all the way back to the store just to admit that I had stolen from them. The devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other had a heated debate as I drove the last few blocks to my house.

Mrs. theskinnyonbenny will be dismayed to learn that the angel won. I turned around and went back to the store.

When I went in and explain my misdeed, the guy working the store told me, "Wow, I would have been like, 'I just got a free pump!'"'re welcome, I guess.

Now where did you say those Krispy Kremes were?