This is a follow up review that I didn’t think that I’d have to write, and especially so soon. In two reviews (Part 1 here and Part 2 here) I talked about my now former cycling shoes, the DMT Prisma. I bought them last December on a blowout sale from Competive Cyclist, thinking that I had gotten a great deal on them. For what I got out of them, I may have gotten a deal, but for what has happened since their demise, I doubt that I can call it much of a bargain.
So what happened? Well the first part of the story begins perhaps a few months ago, maybe starting in March or April. I noticed an unusual amount of wear occurring to both the sole and outer of the shoes, much more so than anything else I had worn. Was I spoiled by my previous pair of Sidis? I’d like to think that the Sidis were really just that good, but in all honesty no shoe should start to deteriorate after just a few months. The first thing I noticed was the outer of the shoe had gained an indeterminable funky color. Not matter how I tried, I could not remove this stuff. I thought that it wasn’t that big of a deal. Just a little dirt and grime right? Well the more I wore the shoes, the more they started to go the way of all flesh, and they showed it rather obviously. One of the heel blocks, intended to protect the sole from the terrors of asphalt and road grit, was eventually so ground down that a small metal post was eventually exposed, and interestingly this only happened on one side. Now, I know that I have a slight leg length differential (about 2 or 3 mm), but nothing that could do that sort of damage. The fact that the material was able to be ground down at all is a curiosity in itself; shouldn’t it be designed to not do that sort of thing? In my opinion, it should.
Of all things though, the aforementioned were simply physical and/or cosmetic in nature, and that’s why I dealt with them. I didn’t mind it because it didn’t alter the function of the shoe–until one day, one of the ratchets, the left one, started to act a little strangely. It slowly became more difficult for the ratchet to eat up cable, and I’d have to sort of squeeze the shoe to make it easier for it to pull cable into its little mouth. I had a system that seemed to work for a while, but I began to feel a little nervous about that buckle. And one day, it finally happened: it simply stopped working. That day was a day of rather large importance for cycling shoes for me, as I had a long, 5.5-6 hour long endurance ride planned. Of course, the buckle broke after I was all kitted up, had all my food stuffs and drinks and bits and pieces on my person, and there it goes. Snap snap snap. It just won’t work. It won’t eat up the cable, and because the shoe is boa-system dependent, I could not simply just say “oh well” and strap the bad boy up without the cable pulled. No, I was shit out of luck. And, being that I’m a training schedule fiend of a cyclist with huge goals and an enormous sense of urgency, I was determined to go on a ride that day. I decided that I would go out and buy a pair of cheapies to fill the gap for the time being, until I could get the shoes that really wanted.
Unfortunately, of all days for this unfortunate occurrence to happen, it had to happen on the day that the Madison Marathon was romping up and down every major street in this mid-sized college town, despite the mid-90 degree temperatures which cancelled the full marathon. Even on my street, they were running and panting and most of all, blocking traffic. I said to myself, “ok, this won’t be so bad. Just go *here* *here* *here* and *here* and you’ll avoid them.” Well, I was mostly right. I was able to get to Bike Shop A with no trouble. I walked in, went through the horrible decision making process where I had to pick a pair of shoes that I really wasn’t all that comfortable with, and bought the damn things (a pair of Northwaves…I don’t even know the model name). Thing is, I also had to go cross town to Bike Shop B, where they had the miniscule little SpeedPlay cleat adapter for 3 hole cleats separate from the cleat itself. Outside of being taken for a fool by the cashier of Bike Shop B and sharply correcting her (quite angrily, I recall), things went smoothly at Shop B. The trip back, however, was no easy task. By this time, most of the marathoners had finished, and the traffic from the event was backed up like the lines to the bathrooms at a Jimmy Buffet concert at Alpine Valley. In the throes of the heat and sun, I sweated my oversized cyclist ass right into a pool of unwavering determination. I was determined to ride that day, and with cleat adapter and shoes, I made my way, ever so slowly, back towards my apartment.
Upon getting there, I again came to a terrible realization: I didn’t have a small enough screwdriver to install the cleats to the shoes. So up I got, into the car, over to the hardware sore, and bought myself a screwdriver. After a hurried installation and throwing of clothes upon my back, I departed. One block down…something’s not right. I didn’t get the placement of the left cleat correct. You can tell these sorts of things after riding in the exact same position, millimeter by millimeter, for months on end. I go back inside, first and foremost SWEATING not only from the brief trip outside and ride, but the intense heat just building in my apartment from the sun and possibly my anger. Twist twist twist. This time I get it right…or so I thought.
I had gotten it close enough, so off I went on my ride. I had decided that I was going to go out to Blue Mounds and do L’Alpe Bl’Huez, a local time trial which does a 20k counter clockwise triangle in Blue Mounds State Park. I wanted to do the course because the day before that very time trial had been cancelled due to intense thunderstorms (which I had driven through all the way to the Park that morning, hilariously not realizing the implications of the weather upon me). I thought it would be a good primer for when the TT was rescheduled. So I start cruising, probably a little harder than I should have been, and I come across a couple of different fellows. One was a former racer who knew the owner of the shop I work at, and we had a pleasant little chat and went on our separate ways. I rode some more, and came across an age group triathlete who helped direct me towards THE MOUND. I was a little unsure of my way, so we rode together for a while until we parted ways at Mt. Hored, where the Ironman course separates from the way to THE MOUND. I continued on my way, despite feeling a bit strange with my flexy new shoes and sweat soaked back. By the time I actually started the climb, I was feeling terrible. Midway up the climb, I knew that I would not be able to make it, so I decided to try to cruise up northward somewhere and basically just ride and get some time on the saddle in. No big deal I thought. No big deal.
I knew that my legs were hurting, but I figured that it was just a nutritional shortage. I had, after all, been riding for a while and was in a state of caloric depletion. I had nothing in my legs despite downing two bottles of water, a delicious nutella and banana sandwich, a Coke, a clif bar, and a gel (or two). The whole time I was trying to fuel myself rapidly in an attempt to gain back what I had lost, but the sun is a vicious mistress. She delivers all of these goods to the Earth, and yet when you aren’t prepared to deal with her life-giving rays, they strike back with surprising ferocity. What was happening to me was nothing short of a nutritional phenomenon. I drank, but did not feel quenched. I ate, but did not feel strong. Everything I did failed, and what I ended up with was a full belly and empty legs. I began to suspect that the sun was doing more damage than I could possible make up for. I didn’t put on sunscreen that morning, and I soon knew that it would probably have been my saving grace. Eventually I made my way up to Mazomanie, but by the time I got there I was confused, tired, and devoid of resources–turns out that I had forgetten my money in my scramble to get on my bike in my apartment, and my phone was absolutely refusing to pick up any cell phone signals. I was in the middle of a horrible ride, and I couldn’t just call it off. I had to get back somehow. Being that I didn’t really know much of the way, I had to get on Highway 14, a rather heavily trafficked route that really isn’t all that pleasant to ride on. I rode at a death pace, about 13-14 miles an hour, basically just rolling a long and hoping to somehow get home. I finally made my way into Cross Plains, and by this time, my feet were completely numb from my shoes, my mouth was completely dry from lack of water, and my body was completely painful due to the sun. I just had to keep rolling, rolling, rolling.
To make a long story short (saying that at this point in the post…ha!) , when I made it back home, I was completely drained. I felt like I had been hit by a train and I just didn’t know what I could do. I tried to eat and drink, but it didn’t feel like I was feeling any better. I decided to try and just rest, but even sleeping was difficult. It was just one of those days where it seemed like nothing would help.
Despite all the bad things that happened that day, I do feel like I learned some lessons. First and foremost is SUNSCREEN. I cannot expressed how important it is. I think that my day would have been much better had I been wearing just a droplet of the stuff. I was completely unprotected however, and I definitely learned my lesson. After doing some research later on, I think that what I had was sun poisoning, which explains why neither water nor food would help my cause. I will never ride without sunscreen again–at least during the summer and fall months.
Also, the importance of proper shoes and fit has yet again shown itself. My feet were absolutely killing me for most of the ride, and really it was because I just picked a pair off the shelf without real consideration for fit specifications (accurate length and width, etc.). Of course, I wasn’t in a situation to be doing so, but my advice is to never just pick something up because there’s a chance it’ll work. Know your body and what works for you. Learn your own measurements and be sure that what you get accommodates you! Never settle for something that simply doesn’t work. You’ll be miserable for it.
Well that’s it for now. I feel like I’ve been rambling but this post has been a long time coming. Coming up will be some interesting stuff. I had my first 3 crit today, and it was a 2/3 crit at that. Let me say, it was FAST. I’ll be writing about the whole Tour of America’s Dairyland shortly. Until then, ride ride ride.