Had some time to kill on my off-Friday. I stopped by the shop today to pick up special order parts and look at shoes. I previously posted how disappointed I was in the high-end Sidi Dominator 6's I bought less than two years ago. I've had some knee tweakiness this spring, and I'm pretty sure it is due to the near complete destruction of the Sidi treads. My foot rocks on the pedal, which no doubt causes abnormal knee alignment. I don't seem to have a problem when I do long, 10,000ft rides with my Speeplay pedals. Only my worn out SPD shoes/pedals have been giving me problems. I'm very careful to keep all cleat adjustment variables the same between shoes, such as fore/aft, side-to-side and angle. I ride strongly splay footed. This means my toes point outward. I need to adjust the limited float SPD pedals such that my heels bang the crankarms in the centered neutral position. The Speedplays have something like 30 degrees of float, which I love.
I decided on Shimano 230's. They are heavier than shit but built like a tank. The treads feel grippy and consists of very large blocks. They won't wear like dainty racing treads do. I was really looking for a lighter weight pair of racing shoes, but I don't even have a decent pair of training shoes right now for off-road. These will be perfect. The price was such I could have bought two pairs of these for less than the Sidi's. They'll probably last at least 2-3x longer too. The 230's use the custom fit heat/vacuum molding process to achieve "broken in" fit right out of the box. Earlier Sidi's, such as the Dominator 4's, fit like a glove right out of the box without any whiz-bang shaping process. I thought I'd give the Shimano's a try anyway. My only complaint with the Dominator 4's I've used for 8+ years was sole flex. I prefer a very stiff platform if it fits well. The Shimano 230's are very stiff. They use what appear to be token bits of carbon in the sole. The Dominator 6's utilize a full carbon sole, the ultimate in stiffness and weight. To bad the treads and uppers didn't hold up.
I spent an hour getting the cleats just right and went for a short ride on the Titus. They felt perfect immediately. Nice and stiff mashing out of the saddle too. You don't really notice shoe weight on the bike. They weigh 50% more than the lightest MTB racing shoes. This might cost a minute or two during a 100mi, 12,000ft MTB race. I won't worry about that for now. I did a nice little loop that included some Merrimack River trail and a segment over Seavey Hill behind my house. Still in recovery mode for Saturday's race.
Speaking of races, I had to head back to Exeter Wednesday night for my weekly dose of punishment. Many of the usual suspects were there, nearly 30 or so to start. We did a Rt 4 single-hump/Swain Pond loop. Longer and hillier than last week, and stiff wind just to mix it up further. Pace started out much more civilized, at least until it came my turn to pull. I took the first long hard pull to wind things up a bit. The pack pretty much stuck together until we got to the Rt 4 hill. Don't know why, but splits always happen there, and it is before we even get to the hill. The young guns were doing the schooling again. Somehow I managed to latch on with four kids that peeled off the front. We had large gap cresting the top. Shortly after, Robbie King brings another handful of guys up to us. The riff-raff was ejected. The throwdown was on. It was touch and go for me hanging with this group. It was uber windy in places, and we couldn't echelon across the road and block traffic. That meant even riding in the pace line, you were catching wind. I struggled to pull through a couple times. Lose concentration one instant and allow a gap, game over just like that. We had a core of 10 guys or so that drilled it home. Robbie went early for the sprint at the end. He faded as the rest of us swarmed him. I shamelessly hopped on promising wheels all the way up the finishing grade. That netted me fourth. I felt that ride was way harder than a week earlier when we averaged 27mph. This week I logged 25.8mph. This ride was longer with more hills and it was very windy. There's no way I'll be recovered by Saturday for the Sunapee road race. I had pretty severe case of DOMS getting up this morning.
I probably won't do Exeter next week. Too much too close to 6-gaps. As Solobreak once put it, our ride format tends to be last man (or woman) standing. I may opt for a Charlie Baker TT night instead. How much damage can a 20+ minute cannibal effort do?