In my own life, I spend a lot of time mocking the cost of bicycle stuff. When someone tried to upsell me to $350 bib shorts, I laughed about it for weeks. When I witnessed a middle aged dude walk into a local fancy bike shop to put down two grand on his first-ever road bike and then be immediately talked into $500 shoes, I almost felt bad for him, despite our large differences in salary. One day last summer, I rode with a D.C. area lady visiting my small town, and she pretty much openly mocked my aluminum bike, because it did not have the smooth feel of her carbon-steel-half-caf-mocha-blend-Dura-Ace-outfitted bicycle and 5x the price tag.
My general feeling is that unless you have a generous trust fund, maybe you should consider riding like $7000 before putting that kind of money into a bicycle… and at that point, someone else will probably be footing that bicycle’s bill, anyway. This general feeling extends into spending obscene amounts on accessories, clothing, and other bicycle related gear as well.
It’s a general feeling. Not a law. Not even a theory. Because today, I violated this previously held principle and spent an absurd amount of money on bicycle-related persuits. And I don’t even feel guilty about it.
The day started out pretty well: Dan had a sleepover at his best friend’s house so that they could wake up and watch the Tour of Flanders at 6:30 in the morning, so I was really thrilled to have the whole bed to myself on a day I could sleep in a bit.
After he came home, charged up with a strengthened man-crush on Tom Boonen, we got ready to go ride bikes. I was expecting a brutal ride because Dan would be doing everything he could to re-enact the events of the race. Then, t-minus five minutes to ride time, the buckle on my shoe broke. By broke, I mean catastrophically failed. The plastic piece that connects the buckle to the fabric of the shoe sheared at the transition from bionic-plastic to fake-leather.
This has been a long time coming. I’ve actually been looking for replacement shoes for a year, but because most women’s road shoes don’t come in half sizes for duck feet, I’ve had to weigh the pros and cons of shoes that are too big or two small and haven’t come up with a favorable “what-they-want-you-to-pay” : “what-you-want-to-get” ratio for any pair of shoes I’ve tried. My current shoes (until they broke) were too big, but they were really cheap. I was hoping to find something that fit a little bit better and was just a little bit less cheap, but it never panned out.
So, instead of going on some epic ride, I duct taped my shoe together and we rode to a bike shop in Newton, MA because Dan said he had seen a shoe in my real-actual-size and it was on sale. I tried on the shoe, and had a Cinderella moment, because it fit, which is basically unheard of in my personal cycling world. For the first time in my life, paying almost $200 for a shoe in which I’ll probably spend less than 400 hours/year suddenly made sense. This is a big deal, given that I found a pair of “work-appropriate” sandals that I could wear most days during the summer, and I’m unwilling to pay $85 for them.
Shoes Cost Est. Hours/Year Fancy Cycling Shoes
Work Appropriate Comfy Sandal
exhibit a: unwilling to purchase smart shoes that cost less. Happy to buy an obscenely expensive pair of hobby shoes.
The new shoes are noticeably lighter, infinitely less broken, and certainly less flex-y. Dan seems to think this will make me faster. I think it will just make me look sillier when old people pass me, but I’ll be so happy that my shoes actually fit that I won’t even mind that so many septuagenarians can crush me on the road.
In a somewhat unrelated request: could someone please tell the elderly drivers of Belmont that when driving and turning, one needs to look left before turning right and vice versa when entering the major roadway from a minor road or driveway? I was amazed at the number of close-calls experienced in a single Sunday ride through a single suburban town. One guy actually realized his mistake and gave the “oh no!” face, but most of them didn’t even see us brightly colored cyclists, even after the fact. Thanks.