The search for summer shoes
Before I begin, let me preface by saying I feel more comfortable when my feet are attached to the pedals, so I wear cycling-specific shoes with cleats for clipless pedals. Cycling specific shoes are not necessary, though stiff soles are a good idea if you have a longish commute. Soles that flex not only steal power from your pedal stroke, they can hurt your feet.
But summer in Florida means riding in the rain — heavy rain. It only takes ten seconds in a Florida afternoon downpour to have shoes full of water. People with platform pedals can solve the problem with water shoes (as Andrew does), or hiking sandals (something with traction).
I decided to buy a pair of the uber-popular Shimano SPD sandals. I know so many people who swear by these things. They love them so much, they wear them in winter… well, this is Florida. I know an ultra-distance rider who wears them exclusively.
I really didn’t want them for distance riding. I wanted them for commuting, running to the market, etc. But I liked the coolness of the open sandal so much, I couldn’t resist wearing them on longer rides.
The first long rides were 40 and 50 miles on consecutive weekends. I noticed my feet were a little sore at the end, but I had been standing around in the shoes after the rides. The next weekend I rode 90 miles in them. By the time I was within 20 miles of home, my feet were screaming. My toes felt like they were being crushed in a vise. I stopped in Maitland and put my feet in a lake… forgetting the lakes are the same temperature as the air. By the time I got home, my eyes were watering from the pain. I went straight to the tub to run cold water over my feet (well, with a detour to the fridge for a beer, of course). My toes were still throbbing and aching when I went to bed that night.
OK, so now I know the sandals are not going to work for long rides. Today I wore the sandals for a relatively short ride up to Casselberry and back. By the time I got home, my dogs were barking again. My toes have built up an intolerance to these shoes.
So now I’m wondering, is it just me? How can so many people love these sandals when they kill my feet? Did Shimano redesign the shoe bed? I know they redesigned the upper, making the sandal more supportive. If they did redesign the shoe bed, did they consider product testing it on human feet?
Warning: if you’re grossed out by feet, don’t scroll down. I figure if Rantwick can post pictures of his rear end, I can post pictures of my feet 🙂
All cycling shoes have a slight upward bend at the front, but the bed of this sandal cranks my toes almost a half inch higher than my Pearl Izumi shoes. It also curves up at mid-toe, pushing the toes backwards against their joints. The photo on the right might look like I’m pushing my toes against the shoe, but they’re relaxed. (The photo below it shows my foot in a walking sandal — too bad I can’t put cleats on those, they’re really comfortable.)
Lisa has a pair of Keen sandals. I’ve tried those on, but they don’t come in my size. I’d also prefer an open toe sandal. Mighk has a pair of Lake sandals, he tells me the uppers are uncomfortable and took forever to break in.
A quick search reveals there are a number of new entries on the market from other manufacturers. Has anyone tried other brands?