Life is always easier if you're in the right gear.

A Girl’s Gotta Have Her Shoes!

“I think I need another pair of shoes,” I mentioned casually the other night.

“Shoes?  Another pair? You have more shoes than Imelda Marcos!” he responded with exasperation.

“I know.  But this pair is different.” 

He sighed, weary of my shoe fetish, and the clutter it created at the bottom of the closet.

“You don’t wear half the shoes you have.  Why would these be any different?”

“Because,” I smiled sweetly, “These are cycling shoes.”

It is true that I already have a closet full of shoes. But I have a great explanation for this. (Didn’t I mention in yesterday’s post that I am great a rationalizing, read lying, to myself.  I do that with other things besides just diet and exercise.) Women’s shoes are not like men’s shoes.  Men’s shoes can be fairly all-purpose, coming in brown or black, designed to go with any suit or attire the man wears.  There might be differences in type of shoe, say, work vs. leisure, but still, a man can get by with fewer pairs of shoes in his closet, than a woman can.  Of course, there may be exceptions.  I’m speaking in broad general terms here.

A woman, on the other hand, has the bizarre and freakishly strange societal expectation of having to have shoes that look “stylish” and that “coordinate” with her outfit and purse. This usually means a plethora of colors and an array of heel heights to choose from depending upon the requirements of the event, outfit, and how they make the woman’s legs look.

It must be a sign that I’m ready for my AARP card that I’m just so tired of all this.  I rarely spend money on shoes anymore.  I’m on my feet most of my work day and am having to keep up with children.  I’d love nothing more than to be able to walk into my classroom looking something like Sandra Bullock in The Proposal, but the reality is, I’m usually wearing converse tennis shoes or some very comfortable low heeled something or other that barely (if it does at all) keeps me from being classified as frumpy.

So, of course, when I purchased my bike, having spent a small fortune on just the bike alone, not to mention the helmet, gloves, padded pants, bag, and, thorn-resistant tubes and tire liners, I was loathe to purchase shoes.  I was especially unwilling to spend the money since the price of cycling shoes is what it would cost me to purchase about four other pairs of shoes.

After putting nearly 200 miles on my bike in eleven days, and experiencing the mild discomfort that comes when your legs and feet cramp up during those last three miles of a ride, I’m thinking spending the money for a decent pair of cycling shoes is probably a good investment.  What I’m learning about cycling shoes, even if what I’m doing is cycling on a recreational level, is that the right kind of shoes aren’t just about looking like I know what I’m doing on the bike.  The right shoes can prevent injury to my knees and can improve my power transfer as I ride. This is far more than just fitness fashion.

The improved power transfer aspect is a big deal, because in the most non-technical and unscientific terms, it just means I can ride faster with less effort. Since I don’t run because I am S-L-O-W, it doesn’t make sense to choose cycling in order to move at a pace most people can walk.  Translation:  I chose cycling for the speed element among other things. I’m by no means fast, and I’m huffing and puffing up some of those little inclines right now, and it doesn’t look pretty, so I’ll take all the help I can get.

A far bigger concern for me than the effect on my performance, however, is the prevention of injury.  Good cycling shoes can prevent injury to my knees, I’m told.  Now, true, cycling is considered a non-impact sport and, as such, there is no jarring impact on the joints like runners experience or other aerobic activities like Zumba or the stair-stepper.  But after just a cursory investigation of the science behind the shoe design, it seems there is some damage that can be done if the proper kind of shoes are not worn. Lack of adequate shoe support could explain why, on my longer rides, my left knee began to have this ever-so-slight nagging pain (it is my weaker knee having been damaged in the past through some nasty falls and poor Zumba instruction).  A few days ago, I realized that my knee was completely swollen, though I felt no pain. Yes, shoes, have got to be the next item on the cycling shopping list, because as much as I love riding, as determined as I am to get fit and lose the weight, I am ever so cautious about speeding my way into an injury that cripples me or prevents me from riding for many years to come.

So, I’m on the lookout for a pair of shoes.  My biggest quandary is, what color should I choose?

Specialize Women's Tahoe Shoe Red ~A "Transport/Fitness" Shoe; Probably a good place for me to start?

Specialized Women's Tahoe Shoe~ The other color choice

 


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Hi, I'm Cat A.Olson, @According2Cat on Twitter, or @TheDigitalCat on Instagram, and I write about my cycling adventures. In 2010, after 25 years off the bike, I decided to get a bike and start riding again. In 2012, I was diagnosed with DCIS, an early and completely curable form of breast cancer. I had five weeks of radiation treatment and I rode my bike to nearly every treatment. In 2013, I decided to get a faster bike. I'm finally getting serious about losing weight, and riding really fast with the cool kids.

I ride every chance I get, as fast as I can, for as long as my body will allow. I'm learning how to embrace challenges like helmet hair, padded pants, clipless shoes, flat tires, bugs in my teeth, and...ugh...hills. I'm learning that both cycling and life are easier and a lot more fun when you're in the right gear.

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