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If The Shoe Fits

By June 18, 2024No Comments

I walk in the front door of the store, alright, to be clear, the liquor store, we were nearly out of beer! We are on a camping trip in a different state, yeah one of those states where you go to the grocery store for food but you have to go to a different place for your booze.

As I reach for the cooler door to make my selection this guy does the same. I’d say, younger than me…I think everyone is, he’s kinda scruffy/outdoorsy looking, you know who I’m talking about. He looks over at me, probably thinking “Yeah, old dude kinda dirty/outdoorsy looking.” Then out of the blue he goes, “Where you ridin’?” I say, “Well we are headed aways out towards bla bla bla for a few days.” “Ooh it should be good over there right now.” Grabs his twelve pack and turns away.

I get back to our van, (a little detail here) which was parked a block and a half away from that liquor store. As I get in it hits me, just how did he know we were going riding? We weren’t actually in an area known for mountain biking, he never saw our van (that detail), we were just passing through…gas, booze, food. Not necessarily in that order. I was wearing “normal” daily clothes, but somehow he knew.

Full of fresh supplies and maybe thirty five miles down the road it hits me, (because, you know it really bugged me, how did he know? I didn’t even have helmet hair!). Preparing to turn onto a different road I let off the gas and hit the brakes, that ‘s when I feel it, my shoes! My regular shoes had gotten wet, a missed creek crossing walking the dog, so I put my riding shoes on at the store.

Funny thing about our riding shoes, of course it is pretty obvious from a mile away that they are bike shoes, some more obvious than others, but it’s a fun way to read a book by it’s cover, or shoes. There are dozens of different types of riding shoes and they are not just different for the sake of fashion, well maybe a little. But truly there is a great deal of functionality built into those kicks. Every type of rider can benefit from the correct shoe whether they ride road bikes, Mountain bikes, downhill, dirt jump, gravel, long distance touring, grocery shopping, yes you may benefit from a special shoe for grocery getting! We riders probably have a bigger variety of shoe types than just about any other sport or activity, Imelda Marcos would be proud!

Fun thing about our riding shoes IS judging a book by its cover. Of course, it helps if you have been around us goofy techy love ridin’ my bike folks for a while, or decades. But even if you are new and learning about this lifestyle, look at people’s shoes.  It is so easy to understand just what they do on a bike by their footwear.

The casual shoe. You know, sneakers, hikers, vans, soft comfy daily shoes. This going to be someone riding around town, beach cruisin’, grocery getting, commuting, kids riding around together darting in and out of traffic doing wheelies for blocks, mopeds (e bikes) and often new riders who simply don’t know yet. And then, who wants to have to put on a “special shoe” just to ride a bike, I thought it was about freedom and feeling like a kid again!

You see them walking in the grocery store straight towards the energy gel section. They are barely able to walk, mostly on their heels, toes sticking up because they have huge cleats on the bottom of the plastic looking shoe to click into their road bike pedals as they speed around the lake. Fast efficient and on a mission, (to get more energy gels).

The knobby crew. Their shoes look a lot like hiking shoes, usually with some lugged soles showing around the edges saying; “Hey, do see how tough I am, I can go anywhere.” Sometimes when the mountain bikers walk you can hear the small cleat on the bottom clicking but most just ride a flat shoe so they aren’t clipping in to the pedal on trails.

There is a shoe that can be very deceiving because it can look rather mild and comfortable, almost stylish but it is worn by some of the most amazing and aggressive riders on the planet. The downhillers and even some dirt jumpers wear this one, usually with a little toughness around the edges and some ankle protection since they are doing things on a bike that some people can’t even imagine is possible! That shoe can ride down trails that many people would have trouble walking down in their hiking boots.

Then there are the gravel grinders. The gravel bike folks are really confused. They wear a shoe that kind of resembles a roadies’ shoe but has a sole closer to a mountain shoe. I would fully expect to see one of these riders with a road bike shoe on one foot and a mountain bike shoe on the other, kind of saying, “I don’t do either that well but I’ll try both.”

So many shoes to wear but I’m out of space here so I am going outside to kick back take my shoes off and have a beer.

Let’s play