From Shoddy To Shod

For most people in cycling media, posting a selfie like this would be career suicide:

In my case, things work a bit differently. For one thing, I no longer have a career to kill, so who’s winning now? For another, see the logo on the helmet, just above my furrowed brow? Well, it’s the marque of storied Italian hairnet concern Brancale–which has recently been resurrected:

And their proprietor recently reached out to me asking if I’d like a new pair of shoes to match.

The timing could not have been better, for my current pair of ballet shoes have been looking pretty dog-eared lately:

So I punched up their website, checked out the shoes they’re now making, and replied (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re goddamn right I do:”

Yeah, that’s right, I totally humiliated myself right into some top-quality footwear. And today I arrived home to find them waiting on my doorstep. (In a box, of course. If I’d come home to find the shoes themselves sitting on my doormat I’d think I was being visited by some kind of invisible Italian Federico.)

Like any cycling who rides around in torn-up shoes, you can be sure my cleats are also generally awful shape. I’m also exactly the sort of person who buys replacement cleats, doesn’t get around to installing them, puts them away for later, and then completely forgets I have them until I go rummaging around for something else. Happily, this character trait meant I had a fresh pair of horseshoes ready to deploy:

And yes, I use fixed cleats:

The way fixed cleats work is that they make it impossible to coast, effectively converting your bike into a fixed-gear.

Of course, before installing the cleats I made sure the shoes fit, which they do:

Notice the shoes do not feature ratchets, those Boa dial things, or even laces, which you’ve probably noticed are totally a thing again:

While in 2020 a triple Velcro closure might be lacking in Fred Cred, I personally don’t see it as a drawback. In fact the clipless shoes I use most often is a battered pair of Sidi mountain bike shoes with three Velcro straps, and they’ve never given me a bit of trouble. Plus, they offer the shoe some sartorial continuity:

Anyway, if it’s modern features you’re after, rest assured the shoes are equipped with crabon soles complete with relief carving of a sperm:

Between the “planing” effect of titanium, the crabon soles, and my fixed cleats, I suspect it won’t be ten pedal strokes into my next ride before I’m catapulted into the stratosphere.

And while I may be a schlub, it does feel good to be well-heeled:

Oh, and they also included this seat roll:

While deceptively small when folded, it is in fact quite voluminous, offering plenty of room for my road ride essentials:

Yes, I never ride without a cat brush, a baby nail clipper, and a television remote control:

And that’s all I need:

Well, that and the paddle game.

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