So, once I quit smoking, I started riding my bike again. That pretty much coincides with moving up to Oregon, so say 2004. I rapidly remembered that riding bikes with soft soled shoes kind of sucks, so the Trek 4900 I was riding got a pair of Shimano PD-M535 pedals. I got my IRO Rob Roy in early 2005. At that time it was wearing the same SPDs, which were switched out for a pair of used Time ATAC pedals when I started having spud problems (false engagements and a couple of high rpm disengagements). After two years of rock solid service, I figured my pedal worries were largely behind me aside from some bearing maintenance down the road.
The other day, I had another disengagement at speed, which almost resulted in a crash. I knew this was different from the first moment, because trying to re-engage the pedal just wasn’t working….
I had pulled my foot from my shoe.
See, I had noticed some poor velcro performance before. These were, after all, 3 year old entry level MTB shoes. The velcro had kind of fluffed out, so I gave it a little trim about a year and a half ago. It did it again, so I gave it another shave about three months ago. Apparently two shavings is the limit for velcro, because my non-drive-side shoe just let the two upper straps go and then nature took it’s course.
I started shopping for new shoes, dreams of some fancy expensive Lake or Sidi shoes, the kind where you can get actual widths and whatnot (my wide feet aren’t particularly comfortable in most narrow-as-shit bike shoes, though the Body Geometry shoes were comfortable enough). After getting hit with some unexpected expenses, $170-$250 shoes just weren’t in the picture. I started looking at Nashbar for cheap shoes, but I had ill visions of ordering some $30 closeouts and not being able to ride in them without footcramps. I was kind of staggering around the whole thing, thinking about maybe going back to clips and straps (I have a spare set on my as-yet-unfinished-but-not-abandoned Beater/Grocery bike project) and normal shoes. I got as far as trying to figure out how to keep my shoelaces out of the chainring (which is an annoyance on a freewheel bike and damned near a tragedy on a fixed gear) when it hit me.
So I headed off to the craft store (Since when did Michaels only have one aisle of sewing stuff?) and pick up some eyelets ($2 for 25 eyelets, $2 for the setting tool which is handy but probably not necessary) grabbed my hammer and clicky knife and set to work.
They’re more comfortable now than they were with velcro, but time will tell if the laces are more trouble than they’re worth. Here’s a shot of one completed shoe (less laces).
Update : All laced up and done with the first test ride.
Conclusion? Cheap and effective. They’re comfortable and I feel more secure in the shoes than I have in a long time. When the laces are double knotted there isn’t much chance they could get into the chain. Aside from the ugliness factor of bright white tennis shoe laces, the vague chainsuckdeath paranoia, and the last metal ring (which I may or may not just leave there, maybe I can think of a use for it), I’m quite happy with the results. If nothing else, it has saved me from having to make a rush purchase of an item and gives me the freedom to search for a good value (and try on shoes in the store).
It also reminded me how long it’s been since I rode my bike without my laptop in a pannier bag, I got up to sprint a little and the back end went all wonky on me. Time to start doing that more.