My first pair of clipless pedals led to the purchase of my first set of cycling shoes, which my ex-boyfriend used to describe as “cute.” In fact, when I first got them–and, okay for the rest of my time using these shoes–I used to think of that Elvis Castello song where the line goes, “The Devil wants to wear my red shoes.” They were my legacy, these Little Red Shoes, my identity as cyclist, if only to myself. Later, when I bought my road bike, it turned out that these Little Red Shoes just so happened to match the color scheme.
And, I swear, it was a complete coincidence. I was also looking longingly at a silver, blue, and yellow Trek before I ended up deciding that the Giant fit me better. In fact, it didn’t even occur to me that my Little Red Shoes matched my bike until after I’d bought the bike and donned them for that first real ride. Cool, I thought. I match! Even though you’re not supposed to try to match because it looks amateurish. Cutesy. And we’re cyclists; we’re not supposed to be cute.
It was even more of a coincidence that my bike club ended up choosing red, black, and white for the color of its new jerseys. So on days when I was fully decked out in my club shorts, jersey, and Little Red Shoes, I totally matched my bike. In fact, Lou Vetter, one of our members, upon seeing me decked out in my matching gear, laughed and said, “Where you on the jersey committee or something?”
No, I wasn’t. But I’d like to think that the committee was inspired by the utter cuteness of my Little Red Shoes. How could they not?
Well, my poor Little Red Shoes have gotten worn down. The lining on the back of the heel support was falling, driving me crazy because I couldn’t push it back up. Then, lately, I noticed that the tread was getting lower than the cleat resulting in much unstable sliding around while walking around off-bike. So, sadly, I realized that it was time to say goodbye to my Little Red Shoes. *sigh* I really was attached to them.
They served me well at over 5,000 miles of riding. They took me from my meager beginning days as a hybrid rider to my crazy cycle-obsessed road riding days. They were part of my first experience with clipless pedals. I am so sad to see them go. Really, I am. There are many memories associated with the Little Red Shoes:
- My first bike accident outside of Lyons, Colorado on US-36 which resulted in an ambulance ride to Longmont Hospital and stitches by my eyebrow where my sunglasses had pierced the skin during the fall. (I had hit a lip of pavement in the road and my tire got caught in it.)
- Elephant Rock, a ride in Colorado, which was one day, 65-miles, along rolling terrain outside of Colorado Springs. It was the very first long ride I’d ever completed.
- My second bike accident, one month after the first–the Dog Incident. Ambulance ride to Westminster Hospital. Had a beautiful concussion and lovely road rash on my face. The shoes were on my feet until I got home. That accident shook me up all right and put a kibosh on my days of zooming mindlessly down slanted grades. Thus began my cycling “nervous tick” when encountering dogs and downhills: I unclip one foot out of my pedals.
- 75 long and mostly-climbing miles on the first day of the Colorado MS 150, and then 40 miles of the next day (didn’t complete).
- Commutes to and from work, 20 miles each way, from Brimfield to Boulder.
- My first century on the first day of the MS 150 in Toledo, Ohio in 2006. I just did it on a whim since I felt good at 20 miles into the ride and the weather looked great.
- My first completion of both days of a two day ride–the MS 150 in Toledo. Again, 2006.
- My first TOSRV last year. These shoes are definitely not waterproof, I was quick to learn.
And, lastly, the springs, summers, and falls of increasing madness that led me to this moment today when I’m 1,000 miles into the year in the early month of May. My how I’ve grown into a semi-mature cyclist with these shoes. I am not sure I have the heart to throw them away. But I do not want to become a hoarder… So out with the trash they must go. It will be a very painful moment. I’ve never before grown so attached to a pair of shoes. Seriously. This is just sad. It’s like getting rid of my first set of baby shoes. The Little Red Shoes launched the beginning of my cycling obsession in that I’d finally made the commitment to become a fully attached-to-my-pedals cyclist so as to make every stroke of the pedal count.
The Little Red Shoes symbolize a metamorphosis that only a few crazy cyclists take. I still remember clearly the day that I proclaimed as I stared in horror at the toe clips on my new hybrid’s pedals, “I will NEVER use those!” But I never took them off my pedals either. And the next thing I knew, I was daring to slide my toes into the clips for short stretches of road to see what all this clap-trap was about. Over the course of that first year with my hybrid, I began to realize that the toe clips positioned my foot in the right spot on the pedal and I learned that my positioning had always been off–you are not supposed to press the pedal with the center/arch of your foot but with the ball of your foot. I also noticed how having the pedal attached to my foot did, as claimed by other cyclists, help with my favorite activity–climbing. And the next thing I knew, I was designating my tax return money for a pair of clipless pedals. And the bike shop guy hooked me up with the Little Red Shoes. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Well, I guess I didn’t do so bad with purchasing the new shoes. Century Cycles had these Sidis on sale so I got them. They not red but the standard black. At least they still generally match my bike. They do have a little red seal on the back. That’ll have to do, I suppose. I know I’d said before that I wanted to get a pair more like tennis shoes. It seems, however, that I’ve grown attached to having the velcro straps on top instead of laces and there was only one pair of laceless tennis shoe type cycling shoes. They were not on sale and they made my feet look huge. I have a weird thing about my feet looking huge.
I guess these Sidis will have to be my “grown up” cyclist cycling shoes. I wonder what experiences these Little Black Shoes will adorn my feet through. Hopefully only good ones. I think I am done with all that accident business. *knock on wood*