If The Shoe Fits…

Saturday was foggy:

So foggy that the George Washington Bridge looked like it spanned two different planes of existence and not just New York and New Jersey:

Though I suppose you could make a strong case for New York and New Jersey being two different planes of existence.

The Tresca, by the way, has become my default wet-weather-but-not-so-wet-that-you-need-full-fenders bike. Wet-Weather-But-Not-So-Wet-That-You-Need-Full-Fenders Bikes are going to be the next hot marketing niche, you heard it here first. Here is a list of the types of bicycles you need to own in order to be a real roadie:

  • Bike that you keep clean and ride when it’s dry
  • WWBNSWTYNFF Bike [see previous paragraph]
  • Full-fender rain/winter bike
  • Race bike
  • Old race bike you haven’t ridden in years but to which you are sentimentally attached
  • Cyclocross bike
  • Gravel bike
  • Dedicated indoor cycling/Zwifting bike
  • Aero bar bike from that time you tried a stage race three years ago
  • Mountain bike that you ride twice a year at most during the “off season” and invariably fall off of and hurt yourself

Though I’ll allow that “full-fender rain/winter bike” may not belong on the list since many roadies have a pathological aversion to full fenders.

As for the Tresca, while it’s been performing well up until now, on this last ride I officially lost access to the smallest rear cog, and also the rear brake cable has gotten problematically sticky. This is clearly due to my riding the bike in lousy conditions almost exclusively and then not cleaning it, though I do wonder if the internal cable routing is also playing a role. I should probably check this out, though I must admit the proposition of dealing with internal cable routing scares the crap out of me, so it’s difficult to say when–or even if–I’ll get around to it.

On Sunday a cold, blustery wind arrived and ushered the fog out of town; by yesterday morning a light snow had fallen, which you can see coating the Inwood hills in the distance:

I awoke early that morning for the 20 mile ride to the radio station in Brooklyn (you can listen to yesterday’s show here), and the snow, meager as it was, provided me with the perfect excuse to finally break in my Christmas present:

Yes, after years of dealing with shoe covers I finally decided it was time for some proper winter cycling footwear. At first I was considering more bikey-looking ones such as this:

Or even this:

But since I’d be using them for both commuting and frivolous cycling I decided I’d be better served by something more normal-looking, so a pair of lace-up boots seemed like the way to go.

I should also mention that at no point whatsoever did I consider these:

But only because they don’t take cycling cleats, they’re snowboarding shoes and not cycling shoes, and I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing them.

So I wrote Santa a letter, and when I awoke on Christmas morning there they were, under the tree. Not only that, but there was also a brand new car in the driveway!

Just kidding.

I don’t have a driveway.

Now it shouldn’t surprise you at all to learn that as soon as I opened my fancy new winter cycling boots, we entered into a warm spell, and the temperature never got below like 50 degrees. This meant I spent most of my holiday break riding in my usual cycling shoes. It also meant I didn’t get around to installing the cleats on my new cycling boots, which sounds like a straightforward operation, but which is complicated slightly by the fact you’ve got to cut out the cleat cover with a utility knife:

“Really? What’s so complicated about that?,” you’re asking. Well, clearly you don’t have to go down to the basement and unpack your storage unit to get to your tools every time you need to work on something. And while you may feel smug about your garage and your workbench and your array of tools hanging neatly from a pegboard, it really can’t make up for your empty life of suburban desperation, now can it?

(Yes, I realize your suburban life is probably one of contentment, but don’t ruin it for me by confirming that, because my self-righteous contempt for people with adequate living space is all that’s keeping me sane.)

All of this is to say that when I woke up and found it was like 30 degrees and snowy I immediately kicked myself for not having gotten my fancy new cycling boots ready. (Good thing I wasn’t wearing the boots when I kicked myself.) So I did exactly what you’d expect of someone with a well-documented history of doing a half-assed job: I went to the basement and carved out the cleat cover with a razor blade in a hastily fashion, because I couldn’t find a utility knife. (This was a bad idea because the rubber was tough, I had just my index finger for leverage, and I’m lucky I didn’t cut myself open.) Then I bolted on a pair of cleats, hopped on the bike, and headed downtown towards Brooklyn, already well behind schedule:

I hadn’t taken the time to adjust the cleats properly, so they were too far back, but other than that everything felt great:

Despite the late start I made it to the radio station with time to spare. Then, after I signed off, I adjusted my cleats and headed to the very same Wegmans to which I had driven some weeks back, because I was hungry and it’s right by the Manhattan Bridge:

Once there I embarked upon a pan-Asian culinary tour–or at least a culinary tour of what Americans have decided to call “Chinese” food:

I kicked up a booted foot:

And in between bites drank in the majestic view beneath me:

Who needs neighborhoods and shopping streets when you’ve got everything you could possibly need right there in front of you, in a uniform shade of beige and with ample parking?

After my repast I headed back home, stopping briefly to relieve myself and appreciate my Milwaukee:

When a bike’s too clean it’s susceptible to grit, and when a bike’s too dirty it doesn’t function properly. But then there’s that perfect point of dirtiness at which the grime forms sort of a protective layer without actively interfering with the function of the components. That’s where the Milwaukee is right now, and it’s a joy to behold.

As for the boots, I’ve got many more paces through which to put them, but after 40 urban miles my feet and I are very pleased so far:

Admittedly the brown is a bit classier, but nobody seemed to have them in stock in my size:

They’d go nicely with a pair of tanwall Paselas, and perhaps an artisanal axe.

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