When it comes to cycling shoes, I have a blind spot.
What I should do is go to my trusty bike shop, try a few pairs on, get some good solid advice, and spend whatever amount is required (£120, £150, £180?) to buy the right shoes. What I actually do is scour the internet in search of a bargain, buy shoes which are neither the best quality nor the best fit, and find myself nurturing a nagging feeling that they are not really the shoes I want (the shoes I want, of course, are SIDI’s).
Rather than admit this to myself, when the chosen shoes arrive I try them on, give them a quick test ride, and convince myself they’re just the job (even though I have my doubts about their quality, size and colour scheme); after all, they were a bargain.
Before long I realise these new recruits are not going to cut the mustard and box them away, out of sight, where they silently taunt me. Having wasted money on these impostors I am now even less inclined to splash out on the shoes I really want, and so the cycle goes on.
“You get what you pay for”
In every other area of my life I have learnt that certain phrases become well-worn clichés for a reason: because they’re the solid gold truth, whittled down through trial and error. For some reason, when contemplating buying cycling shoes, that nugget of common sense goes flying out the window as I take leave of my years of accumulated knowledge.
No matter how much I convince myself that those bargain shoes are just the job, they are not just the job. They are a pale imitation of the shoes I want (which are the SIDI’s…did I mention those?).
So why not bite the bullet and buy the SIDI’s?
I currently have a solution, which I know is only delaying the inevitable SIDI purchase, and which costs no more than a simple modification to my state of mind: I have decided to love what I’ve got.
What I’ve got is a pair of fairly average Shimano shoes which are not the lightest, and certainly not the stiffest, which I’ve been wearing on and off for around 7 years. I’ve also got two or three pairs of bargain internet replacements which failed to make the cut, but I try not to think about those.
To help me to love the old faithful Shimano’s I’ve taken to cleaning and polishing them after every ride. Not just a quick once over with a damp rag, I’m talking a military style operation which involves elbow grease and good old fashioned shoe polish, and results in the kind of mirrored shine last seen on the forehead of a bald seventies soul singer.
I’ve stopped short of marching around the yard on parade while the wife gives them the once over and barks orders at me, but apart from that, we’re talking military precision.
I’ve also taken to reminiscing about all the mileage me and those terminally average shoes have clocked up together. Through sunny summer days and wet winter evenings, up Alpine cols and Cumbrian fells, I reckon we’re nudging close to 10,000 miles together; if I were the type to get sentimental about simple possessions (which I’m not), I would say that the least those old shoes deserve is a bit of love and attention.
Apart from anything, if I can manage to cultivate some kind of attachment to the poor half-worn things than maybe I can convince myself that I’m still with them through choice.
Problem is, there’s a nagging feeling that although I’m no racer, and have no real need for kit which offers marginal gains in performance, I can’t help feeling that they’re holding me back. They’re still a better option than the two or three pairs of aborted replacements which languish in a box under the bed (which we don’t talk about), but they’re not SIDI’s (did I mention those?).
So, until I bite the bullet and buy the SIDI’s, I’ll just keep polishing the old faithful Shimano’s and reminisce about all those happy miles we’ve spent together.
Here’s to another 10,000.