The scandal of racing in sandals

by Shaun Audane   April 23, 2009  




Having narrowly avoided collision with a Greek Orthodox nun appearing from the ruins of a local monastery last night, her choice of footwear and sudden contemplation of the afterlife at 28mph induced memories of riding a mountain bike race wearing Jesus Boots.

Yes indeed, I’ve had an original Shimano SPD pair go pretty much around the world only ascending the metaphorical stairway to the great bike shop in the sky when their stench began stripping the neighbour's wall-paper.

The proverbial Imelda Marcos of the cycling shoe and steel toed boot worlds, I’ve had several copies and variants on the original over the years, some closed toe types like these fetching green Adidas can pretty much hold their own on the chain gang, turbo trainer and spring tour alike but aren’t nearly so nice for loafing around in.

By contrast these from Lake are great looking and probably offer the best of both worlds- the soles lack the outright rigidity of the Adidas but they’ve entertained plenty of loafing, green laning, dog walking and the odd summer night’s sprint on the fixers. Regular hand washing keeps them smelling socially acceptable and appearances are more frequent now that spring is very much here.

Now, I’m all for casually styled cycling clobber-maybe it’s a mid-thirties thing but I like the option of opting out of Lycra without being restricted to ill fitting and uncomfortable civilian garb, courier knickers and loose fit jerseys are a godsend. While preferring race shoes most of the time- especially on my road bikes, the option of feeling the wind through my toes while still clipping in falls into the pleasure that can’t be measured bracket.

Many moons ago someone remarked I must’ve been the child with the milk moustache an unfortunate truth periodically revisiting me through adult life. Take a summer night’s racing at Beastway mountain bike series back in 1999…

Riding to the circuit in the old school tradition was a great opportunity to warm-up given as I only lived six miles away. Laden with bulging forty- litre pannier, I arrived to sign on, loosing a couple of pre-race pounds courtesy of adrenalin and the relatively pleasant facilities.

Race number cable tied in place, pannier removed all I needed was the change of shoes…only these weren’t fast asleep in my pannier but rather in the bottom of the wardrobe. Unwilling to squander my entry fee and sit sulking on the benches or worse still saunter home in a strop, I rolled up to the start line in my sandals.

Much to the hilarity of some, debate still rages as to whether I disgraced myself. Predictably some might say, I didn’t perform so well. However, I got to race and had a great time into the bargain! Should you spot a man aboard a crosser or tubby tourer ,  weaving through the woods open toed, smile, don’t snigger. The last fella who did was trying to impress his girlfriend by outpacing me on a long climb (hardly sporting given I was hauling a Bob Yak). His 53X12 V my 38X14 left him red faced and with a furious girlfriend into the bargain.

Going for a blast to the beach-care to join me?


7 user comments

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So Shaun, six miles from Eastway where was that? I grew up around there, in fact at one point I lived next door.

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4172 posts]
23rd April 2009 - 19:25

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The Ilford badlands- I cut through Wanstead which saved a lot of time. Remember those cock roach infested tower blocks at Temple Mills Lane very, very, well along with the Mad Max style wasteland that was West Ham in the early 1990s. Lost all character when they tore down the deserted factories and warehouses and built housing estates. Germanda Way E15 ring any bells?

Shaun Audane's picture

posted by Shaun Audane [766 posts]
23rd April 2009 - 20:11

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heh, I'm from Wanstead and I briefly lived in the flats at Temple Mills Lane… and I spent a lot of time as a kid in the Mad Max style wasteland - it was vast. And a lot of time in Ilford.

Is Gemanda Way down by Stratford station?

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4172 posts]
23rd April 2009 - 20:28

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Germanda Way was a block of low rise flats in West Ham characterised by steel doors-intended for students and young families when I remember it. Lived in Audrey Rd Ilford for a good while too. Interesting area the Leytonstone/Forest Gate region-at least those characterised by the stable, artisan workers. I recall the Catherine Rd in Forest Gate became rather renown as an area of ill-repute in the late 90s. I was always very fond of Ilford lane too but it had become very, very unkempt by the time I left the area in 2001.

Shaun Audane's picture

posted by Shaun Audane [766 posts]
23rd April 2009 - 21:05


I used to live in Catherine Rd too and, if there the ones near the Mattesons factory, I used to go out with a girl that lived in those flats.

Bath is a different world I tell ya Smile

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4172 posts]
23rd April 2009 - 22:00

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I had to race in trainers on SPDs once when I forgot my shoes at an MTB race. I didn't come last. I was second last though... Thinking

purplecup's picture

posted by purplecup [232 posts]
24th April 2009 - 8:40

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Similar to purplecup, I raced the bournemouth tri last year in trainers on look keo's instead of in my normal sidi T1 tri shoes as I had been slow and forgotten them. A suprisingly good time was posted and my transitions were brilliant!

not all carbon is the same.

Jon Burrage's picture

posted by Jon Burrage [1081 posts]
24th April 2009 - 8:48

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