|Sorry, I totally couldn't resist including this picture!|
So, when I recently decided to take the plunge and upgrade to a clipless pedal system, finding bike shoes that would fit was one of my biggest concerns.
For those of you not "in the know" on cycling lingo, "clipless pedals" are pedals that actually attach to a small cleat on the bottom of your bike shoe, holding your foot to the pedal. This is desirable because it allows you to pedal more efficiently by applying force throughout the entire pedaling motion, not simply on the down-strokes.
Now, you might wonder why a system that clips your foot to the pedal is called "clipless" (seems kinda ironic doesn't it?) but this is because before this technology was created, cyclist used little cages attached to the pedals that you slid your foot into, that were called "toe clips."
Ahhhh... the evolution of language!
Anyhoo... I've been having a lot of problems with my feet going numb when riding, and the research I did indicated that it might be because of the combination of the shoes I was wearing and the toe clips. I thought about trying to cobble something together (guess that would have made me a cobbler... yuk yuk.)
And I even found one bike store that had made a pair of custom Birkenstocks with bike cleats on the bottom
But ultimately I decided that it just made more sense to invest in good biking shoes... which meant upgrading to clipless pedals.
I do admit that I was a tad bit apprehensive, since the interwebs are filled with stories of newbies falling on their faces because they hadn't quite mastered the motion of disengaging from the pedals...
Nevertheless, I decided to take the plunge...
So, I spent an afternoon at the bike store, and tried on what seemed like every pair of shoes in the place. Finally found a pair that was comfortable... men's size 42 extra wide! Bike shoes use European sizing, so that's roughly the equivalent of a men's 9 ½ EEE in US sizes. OY!
Then came the fitting, which was the really interesting part. They basically put your bike up on a trainer and have you ride so they can watch your pedaling motion and make any necessary adjustments to the cleats or shoes to ensure that your knees are protected and that everything is set up correctly.
This involves watching yourself on a monitor with cameras pointed at you from every conceivable direction, while the bike dude points out every flaw in your position and posture... a somewhat humbling experience to be sure!
But somehow I managed to survive the humiliation, and though it's taking a bit of getting used to, it's actually much more comfortable when you are properly positioned on the bicycle.
And so far... (knock on wood) I haven't had any crashes...