it can only be a matter of arrogance on our part, that much of our footwear is about as practical as that worn by buzz lightyear. and in more than just an isolated case, they'd hardly look out of place in toy story four with the large variety of colours and finishes currently available. i offer this not by way of criticism, for i am firmly of the belief that if a garment or (in this case) footwear has been targeted with a specific task in mind, any apparent oddities or eccentricities merely add to the flavour. after all, you'd scarcely dive into the local swimming pool wearing a pair of levis.
and you wouldn't expect chris froome to race the tour wearing a t-shirt and a pair of swimming trunks.
however, that scarcely ameliorates the arrogant bit. admittedly, that might be something of an exaggeration, but in the good old days of eddy, road shoes were of black leather and merely featured nailed-on cleats to match a shiny pair of toe-clips. nowadays, however, with the latter being archaic reminders of yesteryear, the shoe companies have let loose with the paint tins, offering pretty much every shade of the rainbow.
to an extent, that may be perfectly acceptable in the pro peloton where we expect our heroes to be larger than life. and that includes their footwear. admit it, you'd hardly be likely to see peter sagan wearing black leather a la eddy merckx. unfortunately, and i consider it a consequence of the social media blight, those of us possessed of far less exemplary cycling abilities that those who do it for a living, have seemingly a great internal urge to replicate the professional milieu on the sunday ride. you know, the kilometres that don't really go anywhere, but invariably end up at a coffee stop just before lunch?
this ostentation is not merely confined to footwear bearing a triangular pattern of bolt holes on the sole. currently drying out neath the kitchen table are a pair of so-called offroad shoes that probably were once actually worn by buzz lightyear, such is their tribute to chrome and fluorescence. those may be perfectly acceptable on the cyclocross circuit and even on my itinerant visits to the undergrowth of bridgend woods, but they are not designed to blend in at the office or supermarket. (no disrespect intended to either the footwear or anyone's particular place of work).
thankfully, very much favouring pragmatism, the inimitable quoc pham has produced an incredibly sturdy pair of black hardcourt shoes, available in either a mid-height boot or regular shaped shoe. quoc showed me the prototypes of these several years ago at a cycle show, explaining that the upper polyester fabric has certain vorsprung durch technik affiliations that might attest to its resilient constitution. these are not expressly designed for offroad use, a factor perhaps witnessed by a waffle style sole similar to that beloved of vans shoes. in short, their gripability promised less than either sven or jeremy might demand.
however, just to lay that particular egg to rest, i shouldered the ridley and ran (all speeds are relative) up a steep grass and gravel infested slope, one which resembled a small river in places. i cannot deny that i'd expected to slip and slide on the wet grass, but was unable to lose frictional grip at any point. while the upper fabric bears a water resistant persona, two little vent holes on the instep rather put paid to that. i know, for i stepped in a deep puddle. however, they are most adept at sloughing off any wateer that may have to be cycled through.
the proposed advantage of such footwear is a return to civility when not being asked to clamp sole to a crank brothers candy pedal. in other words, is it possible to take a walk to the shops on a sunday afternoon for a box of large free-range eggs without drawing attention to oneself? the black canvas-style disguise keeps the secret well, but you have to silently voice concerns over the proximity of little metal cleats to a less than even pavement surface. by the time those eggs were in my everlasting cotton bag and on their way home, i had forgotten the nature of my black stylish footwear altogether. black speaks volumes.
and merely to add insult to injury, should such be possible, i completed my one mile morning pre-work constitutional similarly attired without so much as a squeak from the heels or sparks from the cleats. and the vertical scotchlite strip on the back of each seems the very antidote to 'sorry mate, i didn't see you' whether on or off the bike.
the collar of the shoe, along with the substantial tongue, are very comfortably padded. in fact, the hardcourts have been wearable joy since day one. apart from the occasional offroad excursion, i've worn these regularly on the bike, both for the style factor (not that anyone noticed) and a marvellous level of practicability. their versatility is belied by their dark appearance, one that my brief jostle up the gravel track managed to muddy but not dishevel.
these are more than ideal for any of those who might fancy a quick tumble through the ferns and machair en route to the road you really ought to have been taking to work in the first place. in the world of cycling footwear, these are outstanding, likely offering more days of useful wear than chris froome gets from his yellow sidis and promising to last longer than your cycling career.
quoc pham hardcourt mid shoes are available in sizes 41-47 in black only. they are supplied with sole inserts should you wish to wear them for extended periods without pedal cleats. cost is usually £159, but quoc pham is currently offering a £20 discount.
thursday 17 december 2015..........................................................................................................................................................................................................