Some equipment gets neglected, more because it just works, taking daily (or nearly-daily) abuse and just continuing on without complaint. Time goes on and you just kind of don't notice it.
Until it doesn't. And you do notice it.
Yesterday was one of those rides for me, and the equipment that got noticed was my shoes.
I have issues with shoes, being a difficult fit. No, my feet aren't particularly wide or narrow. In fact, some time back I actually measured them against the industry standard and found that they were pretty much spot on the medium width of D for men.
Toe problem is my toes. Or really, where my toes point.
Take a look at your shoes. Chances are, unless you're wearing Altra running shoes, or Bont cycling shoes, or some variation of Vivobarefoot, Vibram, or Birkenstocks, your shoes come essentially to a point at the toes.
Draw a line from the center of your heel to the center of the ball of your foot, and then another from the center of the ball to the center of the big toe. Do they form an angle? Do they form a significant angle?
For some reason I cannot fathom, most every shoe maker assumes that everyone has that same significant angle. It's called a bunion in the medical community. But it only comes to medical attention when it causes pain and joint degradation.
But the funny thing is that in cultures where shoes aren't worn, those two lines aren't two lines at all -- they're one continuous line. Straight from heel to ball to toe. And bunions just don't happen. Kind of begs the question of whether the shoes cause the condition.
Anyway... My toes do the same thing under weight bearing. One straight line from heel to toe. So finding shoes that really fit is an issue. I love Altra for sticking with their FOOT shaped last. And if the market for running and casual shoes is thin, cycling shoes are downright dismal. Bont comes close, but the depth of their heel cup causes the collar to dig into my ankle.
So anyway, back to yesterday's ride. After doing my normal trail work, I hopped back on and started riding. My right foot started feeling a little sloppy. So I cinched down the strap a bit more.
And it still felt sloppy.
No matter how much I pulled the straps tighter, I could still feel my foot moving around. So I took a closer look.
The upper was peeling away from the sole all the way from the tip to the arch, and well into half-way across the shoe's width.
After three-plus years of complaint-free riding, doling out abuse on these kicks and doing little more than letting them dry out, they finally said "enough".
And I'm okay with that. I don't feel like they owe me anything. I bear no ill-will toward Bontrager.
My search for new mountain bike shoes begins in earnest. I've employed my old Sidi Lazer road shoes for the task of my lunchtime rides and trail work until I find suitable replacements. A stop-gap measure that is less compromise than a desperation move. To say the Sidi's are less than ideal is to exercise an extreme gift of understatement.
But I'll find them. The foot wear unicorns...