I got a new pair of Specialized cycling shoes for Christmas to replace my old commuting pair. Nothing too expensive, lightweight or super stiff, just bog standard SPDs, but my old shoes are Specialized too, so after the superb service they have given me, my expectations for the new pair are high.
My old shoes have given me six summers and winters of comfortable daily commutes, winter club runs and spring and summer off road rides, exploring the local byways and bridleways. Unlike my proper road shoes, these old shoes have ridden through a lot and much of it mucky, especially given the summer we have just had.
A good pair of cycling shoes is hard to give up, and I am loath to do so, but now the miles are written in their fabric, scuffed and torn. The hard plastic sole of the left shoe’s toe is honed to a sharp edge from thousands of traffic light waits. The stitching is stained with mud that no flood can wash out, while the fatigued Velcro straps too often release their hold. The cleats are worn and corroded tight, impossible now to replace. Yes, their retirement is long overdue.
Through mud and flood they have been, and across City streets and sodden fields they have walked. But a finish line, chalked from verge to verge, they have never seen; they were never a fresh and cleaned race day pair.
They may never have pedalled forward a carbon race frame, but they have ridden many a bike; single speed and hybrid bikes, mountain and Boris bikes too. But their best days are long gone. No more the daily grind or summer evening ride, instead I have made a space on a garage shelf, just above some old dust sheets, for them to rest their rusting cleats. My comfortable old shoes.