Over the years I’ve toured, my feet have been somewhat undecided.
There’s no doubt they love the stability, the efficiency, and connectivity of a set of stiff-soled pair of cycling shoes, mated to the mechanical wonder that is the SPD pedal. My thought process has always been thus: as most of my waking hours are spent on a bicycle, my pedalling should be optimised. For this reason I’ve long favoured relatively stiff, performance-orientated SPD shoes, supplemented with a pair of featherweight Crocs for around camp. Plus, SPD pedals flatter bike handling skills – it’s hard to move back once you’ve been spoilt.
But there’s no doubt that the same mechanical wonder is not exactly the most practical footware for all those off-the-bike wanderings, an inevitable part of any long tour. Scrambling up a cliffside to take a photo, for instance. Carrying my bike up a mountain pass. Pushing it through snow, mud and muck. Even going out in the evening, if I’m not too knackered.
So after several years bound to SPDs, I’m giving platform pedals another go. I’m relearning the basics. Trying out some new models, which – compared to those of yesteryear – protrude with sharp pins that promise to grip my shoes tenaciously.
I’ll be first to admit that wandering around in ‘normal’ shoes, then hoping on my bike and taking off, is definitely liberating (no precarious skating or clickety-clack soundtrack to a trip to the grocery store). And while my Keens are no match for my SPDs in stiffness and efficiency, they’re really not that bad. Still, the adaption process needs more time – right now, I’m finding my feet skittering around over washboard or rough descents, which is pretty disconcerting.
It’s with this in mind that I’m trying out the Hold Fast Foot Retention System (FRS) – a velcro grip that binds foot to pedal, originally intended for the urban antics fixie riders get up to.
My first impressions are certainly good ones. My feet feel both free and secure. The velcro embrace of the FRS’s offers discernable help when the trail gets rough; as long as I’m quick enough to pull my foot free when things get really awkward. Made with some pride in the USA (for $57), they certainly seem stoutly constructed and, available in a palette of colours and designs, add a sense of functional style to my ride.
So far, so good. I’ll be giving the Hold Fasts a real go over the next couple of months to see how they fare, with a view to using them on the next instalment of my journey. My gut instinct is that for touring, they’re going to work really nicely – just as long as I can reprogram my brain back to flat pedals. If I can, it would certainly makes my travels a lot easier.
These straps were sent to me to try out by Hold Fast.