Appropriate Foot Wear

Working Theory of Workable Working Bikes My main criteria for a workable transportation bike setup (bike, accessories, clothes, luggage, all that fun stuff) is basically this:

Can I live my life, exactly as I want to, even when plans change unexpectedly?

This criteria is what leads me to add fenders and a rack to every single bike I can get my hands on. It is why I prefer to equip my own bikes with under-the-saddle bags large enough to hold a simple repair kit, a pump, a u-lock and a folded up rain layer (my fave bags are my Swift Little Dear and Rivendell Sackville x-small Saddlesack). This criteria has led me from road bikes with platform racks to cycle trucks and now to light cargo bikes.

I want to be prepared to haul home yard sale finds and ground scores.

I want to be free to pick up groceries or other supplies, without heading home for a special "grocery bike" first.

I want to be able to swing by and pick up my kid and ride her anywhere she needs to go. Eventually, I'd like to be able to do the same with other kids, and adults, too!

I want to be able to decline a ride from driving friends and coworkers when picking up the catering or hauling a load of kid's bike across town.

To paraphrase my friend and Pedal Parenting role-model, Morgan, "Cargo biking is what makes me feel like Super-Woman and I like that!"

I don't want to change my clothes when I arrive at my destination. I want to be dressed in a manner that I find attractive and comfortable, even while I am riding!

Going Cliplessless

This summer I removed the clipless pedals from my road bike. It is pretty funny how long it took for me to do this. I'd become disenchanted with the efficiency gained by clipping-in quite some time ago. I'm not saying it's not real. I am not saying that clipping-in isn't right for you. I am simply saying that on short rides and on long ones, I don't miss being clipped-in now that I ride on flat pedals.

And besides, think of the shoes! Expensive, ugly (to me) and impractical for off-bike use! I should have noticed my time with clip-ins was at an end when I began searching for the most normal-shoe looking and feeling SPD compatible shoes out there.

I tried the SixSixOne Filters. These were ridiculous on me, I am short and kinda round and in big, bulky black skate shoes I look like a giant middle schooler. Also, the quality was horrendous, the shoes started coming apart almost immediately. But more importantly, they were ugly and I wound up having to wear them all day any time I wanted to ride my road bike.

I also tried the DZR Strasse. These were much cuter, with a neato herringbone pattern to the uppers and very nice details to the design. These certainly don't look like clip-in shoes! I liked them, but not enough that I wanted to wear them all the time.

Then, this summer I realized that I didn't even own a pair of snug, stiff-soled and firm-fitting high-performing clip-in shoes! All my SPD compatible shoes were undercover bike shoes! Why even go through all this work to find alternative shoes to wear whenever I rode one particular bike if I am obviously not attached to the advantages of being attached to my pedals? So I got rid of 'em! I put platform pedals on that bike and went out shoe shopping!

Such freedom! I bought flip-flops! And mod ankle-boots!

Let the unlikely shoe-review commence!


Some guy I know recently said,

"Riding a bike in sandals is like 'doing it' without protection. Maybe fun, but asking for trouble."

That guy is just plain wrong. I say,

"Riding a bike in sandals is like riding a bike, but in sandals."

Obviously, if the top of your toes are exposed you probably oughta be a little careful lest they get scratched, but otherwise? What's the big whoop?

Take a look at this Pedal Family.

Is this guy Doing It Wrong?

Look at that face, he looks like a South Asian Dean Martin! The whole family knows they are Doing It Right! If you can't see that, maybe this isn't the right part of the internet for you.

Anyway, this Pedal Papa, my new hero, is not only Doing It Right, he is Doing It Cool and Doing It In Flip-Flops!

Love it.

After a few timid flip-flop test rides this summer I found that it was comfy and easy to do. I did notice that I was flexing my toes most of the time, I guess to keep the sandals' heels sorta tucked up and not flipping and flopping as I rode. I don't know if I'd eventually get over that or get used to it. As it is, I'd probably get tired of the effort after ten miles or so.

Still, shoe freedom! Yes!

Shiny, Shiny, Shiny Boots of Leather

Ever since Matt Smith got dressed in his first episode as the new Doctor Who I've been admiring the bloke's boots. I am vegan, so I buy almost all my leather second hand and I just about plotzed when I spotted my new leather ankle boots at the thrift store.

Hot and inexpensive. First pair of hard-soled shoes in years. When I wear them, I feel like a... nevermind, some things are too personal.


I'd been wearing the boots out for about a week, always pointing them out to bike riders I'd run into that,

"Yes, these boots ARE hot! And actually rode here in them! It wasn't so bad!"

Even though I saw the Hot Boots as a sign of my newfound shoe-freedom, I still feared they'd prove impractical for riding. I was worried that boots this Hot would turn out to be ankle-achey and kept the trips short. Until the other day, when my new boots got put through my Workable Working Bikes Setup Criteria and proved themselves more than capable!

Basically, I chose my Hot Boots one hot weekday morning, assuming all my riding would be limited to my usual commute route with Little Oil. Capitol Hill to Downtown to Columbia City, which is what? 7 miles each way?

Remember my Workable Working Bike Setup Criteria?

Can I live my life, exactly as I want to, even when plans change unexpectedly?

After I arrived at work I suddenly remembered that I'd need to ride to White Center for an event. And to get there on time I'd need to climb all the way up the mountainous East slope of Delridge/ West Seattle/ Hooey-that-is-steep-even-for-Seattle-I-am-sweating-just-thinking-of Highland Park Way!

I had no other shoes. I had a fully loaded Xtracycle with all of Little's stuff still onboard and no time to drop it off anywhere. I'd need to trust in Hot Boots and my own macho-posturing, cargo-biking self confidence to get me to the top. (I also thought of you, Pedal People. I knew I could always brag or comiserate with you if things didn't work out.)

Guess what? The trip worked out fine! I got to the top, sweaty but present. I got to feel competent and Hot at my event. I got to pick up Little Oil on time. I got to finally learn that there need not be strict limits for a Pedal Wardrobe.

It is not about Cycle Chic. It is not about Lycra-clad Squids. It is about all clothes. All lifestyles. All comfort levels! Not Doing It Wrong, Doing It Right For Me!

All wardrobe options for all people, all the time!

People smarter than me have already realized this, and are starting to form networks to support the idea that cyclists should wear what works for them, free of judgement or pressure. I am excited to see where this conversation goes. I am also excited to pick my shoes tomorrow! Galoshes? Platform heels?

What do you think? Am I dreaming? Naive?  Comment below!