Sunday, January 22

Imelda Marcos Rides a Bike

Skiing Shifted My View of Expensive Footwear

This post isn't really about Imelda Marcos, though it turns out the lady who was famous for her collection of over 2700 pairs of shoes DOES have some bike connections. For one, David Byrne (yes, the one who rides around on a bike and makes observations about what he's seen) wrote about Imelda. For another, there is at least one bicycle dedicated to her. However, Imelda, or at least her interest in shoes, IS the inspiration for this post, and both Cafiend of Citizen Rider, and Jason of The Plano Cyclist, pushed the shoe fascination into full blown flower. The always excellent Cyclelicious Blog provided inspiration for the title.
Found on the Internet

Some of this shoe frenzy was prompted several years back when I learned to ski. At that time, I weighed about 90lb more than at current, but I still wanted to learn how to ski. As I told the ski instructor, "I want to learn to ski well enough that I can ski down the blue square slopes with my kids." Well, that's a whole different saga and a lesson in unintended consequences involving terms such as "tucking trees," but I found that the second hand boots I'd bought made skiing almost impossible. So I doubled down and went out and spent $300 for the rather ordinary boots you see in the photo above.

Back to the subject at hand, Cafiend piqued my interest in the linked post above when he talked about "Snow Sneakers" that were made by North Face. Well, as it turns out, there is a whole subculture of what purport to be waterproof shoes, some of which are also insulated. The old wheels started turning and it occurred to me that such a beast would be PERFECT for my commute, because it really doesn't get really cold, or really wet all that often here in North Texas, and even in Washington that is true (it DOES drizzle a lot there, but it doesn't pour very often at all).

First, I perused the North Face Snow Sneaker. These beasts run about $100 and LOOK a lot like the Chrome shoes that Justin recently blogged about except they don't accept cleats. For a dozen or so rides a year, I'll forgo cleats. My pedals work as platforms OR with cleats anyway.

Then, entirely by coincidence, Chandra called. Pretty soon, we were chatting like Imelda and her friends about shoes. It turns out Chandra has another variant on the "Snow Sneaker" called "trail runners." His were made by Salomon, though I initially thought he'd said "Solomon." Salomon! Why they made the bindings on my skis! Pretty soon, I was coming across many different kinds of shoes that might work very well for the unusual cold and wet days we get on occasion around here.

I don't think I want a full on hiking boot, because I value ankle flexibility when I'm riding my bike, so I've ruled out some of those. I'm also thinking I want something a bit on the big side, as well as waterproof and comfy with regular socks down to about freezing. My theory is those would work in many conditions and I can still add wool socks and toe warmers if it ever actually gets down to zero Fahrenheit ( a real rarity in both North Texas and in Western Washington. In addition, while I might have paid $300 once for those ski boots (and it was money well spent), I think these shoes should be more affordable. Like in the $100 ballpark, though I've looked at $200 shoes that have spd cleat mounting. Those come from Shimano, Lake, and other manufacturers.

Some that look intriguing include:
  • North Star Snow Sneaker II or III
  • Salomon Contragrip and Deemax 2
  • Merrell Winter Moc
  • Koling AIR Hiking Shoes (like hiking boots, but cut lower)
  • and a WHOLE HOST of others! Adidas makes 'em, Nike makes 'em. Keen makes 'em.
What's a poor, shoe-addled cyclist to do? It seems that when you admit you don't need cleated shoes, the world can be a many splendored thing...


Pondero said...

I'm very interested in what you decide to do. I generally avoid riding in conditions colder than allowed by thick wool socks and Keen sandals, but I'd like to consider expanded options.

Anonymous said...

When its raining out I wear either my diamond encrusted... opps, sorry! that's when I go skiing. When I bike, I like to wear some ankle high boots that zip up the front. They are insulated and have thick rubber soles. The boot itself is made of a skindiving type foamy insulation material, very soft, pliable and warm! I also sometimes wear a knee-high boot, flat (none of this chicks and heels stuff) that zip up, made of fake leather and are super comfy. In either case though, its the socks that keep you warm. I wear knee high thin stocking socks, followed by low med-weight ankle socks. With that combination, my toes have never been cold...

Yokota Fritz said...

In Illinois I used to bike in black leather combat boots during the winter, which worked well down to about the teens if it wasn't too windy.

When I moved to Colorado, I got a pair of Asolo hiking boots (waterproof, insulated, etc) which worked perfectly down to zero degrees. Ankle movement is important, but low cut hiking boots don't interfere with that at all, and the higher ankle means I don't get snow down into my boot. My feet stayed dry and warm.

I tried biking with my downhill ski boots once. That didn't work out so well.

Big Oak said...

I think those Lake Mountain shooes look pretty cool, but the price is to salty for me.

For really cold weather riding, I wear my old Specialized mtn bike shoes Uwith no cleats) and pull over my $14 Nashbar neoprene shoe covers.

I've been thinking about changing to something warmer, but I don't know what that would be. Good luck with your search.

Chandra said...

Back when I was in St. Louis, I tried the Performance shoe covers and they fit the bill back then. Now, I just go with my sneakers with wool socks or hiking boots with wool socks, if it gets too cold.

Paz :)

PS. Steve - My pair was made "back in the day", by Solomon :)

cycler said...

What kind of shoes would you wear on wet cold days if you weren't riding the bike? Chances are that those will work great for riding the bike :)

My main footwear change for cold and rainy weather is that I always wear boots if it's going to be wet (the leather keeps my legs dry and is windproof). Below 30, I often wear wool blend tights instead of normal dress tights, and if it's colder than mid20's I'll generally put a set of wool socks on over the tights.

Tracy W said...

OK....I've got to say it. Why make due when you can get the real deal. Lake MXZ302 boots.

From what I've heard, the supply of these things is gonna be pretty limited pretty quick.

Although, for your Texas weather, the similar Shimano boot would probably be just as appropriate.

My serious comment is that while those types of shoes on platform pedals would work just fine, I prefer to stick with something with cleats....

Steve A said...

I LOVE the notion of Lake boots, and they have a new distributor so they may be around longer than any of us, BUT!

For the few days they are needed in N Texas, I cannot justify the $300 they cost, nor even the $200 the inferior Shimano competition costs, when an equivalent non-cleated solution exists for $100.

In 2011, in a worse than usual year, I rode to work all but four days. I hope to make 2012 a "100% cycle commute" year.

Jon said...

I bought some Lakes winter shoes for $50.00, recently.

if you are interested

Steve A said...

I saw the Lake 140 shoes and I hope Jon will do an "after use" report. I'm pretty sure they are not nearly as good as the MXZ302, but "not as good as God" allows for a pretty big window of opportunity.

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