7.28.2011

Changes "Afoot"

So, when I started this whole cycling thing I decided to go with "mountain biking" shoes and small 2-bolt SPD pedals. This set-up allows me a shoe that I can walk in with some traction and reduced risk of damaging the cleat, since the cleats are recessed into the shoe tread and are metal. Dedicated road cleats are not recessed and are plastic, so they suffer significant wear-and-tear when a person walks around in the shoes. The shoes also tend to be stiffer, which makes walking all the more difficult.

BUT road shoes and pedals can be a good deal more comfortable for longer, more intense rides, since the stiffer soles + significantly larger pedal platform help to spread pressure across a wider area and reduce strain to foot muscles.

My first pair of shoes were Sidi Dominators, a mtn. shoe. A very nice shoe, but WAY too narrow. I started having all sorts of foot/toe cramping and numbness issues, particularly with my larger right foot. After switching to a wider men's Louis Garneau shoe many of my issues disappeared, though I have still been having some soreness issues and "hot spots" through the outer sides of my foot...I suspect it's irritated peroneal tendons and/or foot muscles feeling the strain of hours of pedaling with shoes that are flexing around these relatively small pedals.

Since I have 2 bikes I started considering the switch to road-specific pedals and shoes for my road bike. This will allow me to trash my mtn. shoes with mud and slop while riding my cyclocross bike and not need to significantly clean them prior to riding indoors on the trainer during the cold months.

This should also help make my upcoming 150ish mile ride across the state a little less uncomfortable in the later miles, as I have been finding my feet starting to protest around the 50 mile mark on longer rides...100 miles of foot pain doesn't sound particularly appealing.

Louis Garneau CFS-300
The choice of shoe was easy. I really like the fit of my off-road shoes and Louis Garneau makes a road shoe with essentially the same upper.  Bonus is the white color and toe vents--black shoes during our recent heat wave got noticeably HOT inside (which served to increase my foot discomforts, as my feet would swell a bit more than usual).

Pedals made for a tougher decision.  There are so many more choices of road pedals.  Speedplay pedals have pretty much unlimited float and come in nifty colors, but our friend who owns our favorite local bike shop always had issues with even the smallest bit of dirt or sand lodging in the cleats (which are the mechanical part of the cleat/pedal interface on Speedplays).  I read at least one other similar criticism.  Given that we essentially live on a giant sand dune and our roads frequently have a dusting of sand at intersections I had to rule out Speedplay pedals.  Plus I don't actually NEED more than a few degrees of float.

I also considered Time pedals, but they aren't as common, so finding replacement cleats or parts in a pinch could be an issue.

Shimano 105 SPD-SL
DH has LOOK Keo pedals and likes them, but is already eyeballing Shimano pedals for his next pedal (to try something similar, but different).  So I decided to play guinea pig and go for Shimano 105 pedals, myself.  I found them on Amazon for <$64, so that bargain price made it an easy decision.

I also am trying a new saddle in preparation for my "epic" ride.  I really *like* my Specialized Jett 143, but I don't LOVE it.  While I need some sort of relief channel/cut-out/dip, I've long suspected that the very abrupt sides of the cut-out on my Jett are causing as many issues as the actual cut-out is solving.  Namely in the form of pinching bits that don't really want to be pinched.

I otherwise like the shape, size, and level of cushion of my Jett.  It's not soft, by any means, but it's not as rock-hard and slab-like as Specialized's Ruby saddle (I borrowed one last Summer and my sit bones HATED me...to the point where I really didn't want to ride it enough to see if my sits might acclimate).

Fizik Arione Donna
Late last year Fizik came out with a women's version of their popular men's Arione saddle with a relief channel (I believe they already had a women's version without said channel).  I had been wanting to try the Arione Donna, but couldn't justify the $160 price tag to test something that may not work.  Recently I found it from a British retailer for <$120, including free shipping.  OK, worth a try--I should be able to sell it for $100 if it doesn't work for me.

I have a test saddle of a different Fizik women's model (Vesta) with the relief channel, but that saddle is much softer and domed...and on my relatively more upright cyclocross bike, so I really couldn't get a good feel for it on the one short ride I've done on that bike (yeah, sad that I've had that bike for over a month and don't get out on it more, but it's hard to justify when it's been hot and dry and not conducive to "'cross" riding.  Once we get cooler and muddier that ride will be seeing more action, for certain).  If I fall in love with the Fizik saddle, then my Specialized saddle will likely go on the 'cross bike.

I <3 brains!
In fun stuff...the women from my online running log hang-out recently did our "Christmas in July" Secret Santa exchange.  My friend, Lisa, in Canada drew my name and sent me the best box of goodies...Smarties candy, a wooly black and purple scarf, and this awesome zombie heart pendant.

Homeland "Security" had a field day with the package, though...they even went so far as to slit open the enclosed card from my friend.  Sheesh.  I really wish DHS and TSA would go off in the corner and grope one another.  I've really had my fill of the fear-mongering and abuse of innocent citizens.  As the recent terrorist attack in Norway has shown, we frequently need to fear our own FAR more than we should fear those outside our borders.  Fortunately my "imported" new saddle was in no way manhandled.

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