May 282011

“You didn’t ride your bike in those.” They don’t even use the up-talk intonation at the end that would indicate a question. It’s a definitive statement.

The Bandolino pumps at left occasionally slide off my foot; I may see if I can add an elastic strap over the arch. The white Aerosole sandals stay on great with all those straps and have a nice non-skid sole.

I could not possibly have ridden in my burgundy Bandolino T-strap stilettos. The bronze metallic leather lace-ups with the 3” heels. The tangerine leather kitten heels.

Oh, yes I did! I love me some girly shoes, possibly influenced by my mother, who turns 90 this year, being voted “Best Legs” in her high school class. She walked two miles each way to/from her high school in her high-heeled pumps to show off those legs, long before the days when women would put on sensible tennis shoes for their power walks.

I own just one bike, a road bike that serves me for both commuting and recreation, and I used to change my shoes back and forth because I had full clip-in pedals.

I got tired of the hassle–and of feeling like a dork wearing a nice outfit with my black commuter shoes when I didn’t feel like changing–and changed my pedals to ones that let me clip in on one side and use the platform on the other side with regular shoes.

Cute shoes for riding my bike: Vaneli bronze pumps, BCBG black pumps, Bandolino patent leather stilettos
The Vaneli metallic bronze shoes at left were a screaming deal at DSW and stay on the foot wonderfully. The BCBG pumps in the middle are older and boy, do I wish I could replace those; the non-skid surface actually wraps around onto the shoe upper a tiny bit, which is a great feature for protecting it from pedal nicks. The Bandolino patent leather ones at right also stay on great; I have an increased fondness for straps now that I ride.

Blog Round-Up

I’m not unique riding in heels, even if I’m still a bit unusual in Spokane. Check out some of the photos on these blog posts on other women’s bike blogs to get an idea of the incredible diversity of “cycling shoes” we’re riding in when we bike with style.

  • When Your Shoes Give You the Slip: Why you need to take care of your sole when picking a riding/work shoe on Lovely Bicycle
  • Cycling Shoes, Velocouture Style: Great set of photos with links to albums on Flickr from Vélocouture
  • Cycling Work Shoes: Did you know that in the original Wizard of Oz Dorothy’s shoes were silver? (a statement on the monetary system by the author) Check out these shiny babies on Bikes and the City.
  • Cycling Shoes I Can Wear to Meetings: If your meetings are hospitable to shoes that resemble a fairly dressy high-top, you’ll dig this review from Bike Shop Girl.
  • Sensible Shoes: Some practical shoes—but they come in colors like red and mustard—from Cycling in Heels.
  • Riding in Heels FAIL: The failure isn’t what you’d think with these 4″ platforms reviewed by Let’s Go Ride a Bike.

How to Choose Cute Shoes for Pedaling

I wore a pair of green summer sandals last week that you’d think were pretty sensible for biking and learned the hard way that their wooden soles subsequently gave me some nasty foot cramps in the night. I kept hopping out of bed to deal with the charley horses I got in my toes and arches.

A pair of basic black pumps I wore the next day, on the other hand, worked great because the sole is flexible. I think the muscles in my foot just have to work harder on the hard-soled shoes. I also think the separated heel of the pump works better than the platform of the sandal. (They were the BCBG pumps in the photo above.)

Three things I now look for in buying dress shoes:

  • flexible sole
  • non-skid surface
  • secure foot enclosure

The shoe needs to move with my foot and stay on the pedal. It also needs to stay on my foot! I’ve had a couple of instances when my foot slipped out of the shoe and there was an awkward moment during which I hoped the car behind me belonged to a shoe fanatic who wouldn’t over-accelerate. So I look for a shoe style that really covers the foot or plenty of straps to hold it on–no flip-flops.

If you have any cycling podiatrist friends, have them stop by the blog to offer shoe selection tips on this post. But they can’t say, “No high heels.”–I’m my mother’s daughter, after all.

Your Turn

  • Do you have some go-to shoes that let you move comfortably from riding your bike to looking professional for a meeting?
  • What’s the favorite comment you’ve received about your footwear when people assume you can’t ride in those cute shoes?
  • Any shoe styles that just absolutely don’t work for you?
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Reader Comments

  1. I ride in pretty much anything but I have to say, I do love the Merrell bike heels. I just bought my second pair, a basic black pump. They are great because they are comfortable for heels as well as “made for cycling,” which mostly translates to a grippy sole.

    And have you seen the Cole Haan reflective shoes? Just got a pair of the oxfords (sale on the sale; I can’t afford them normally!), and they are sooo comfy, plus cute and sassy.

    I do love the looks on people’s faces when I tell them I bike to work in my business clothes and heels. Don’t you find it’s more comfortable to bike in heels than walk in them?!

  2. I just have to add this story. This morning I wore a favorite suite (Ann Taylor, gray silk) with a apricot blouse with ruffles and the tangerine/apricot pumps shown in the top picture above.

    In talking with a couple of women about riding one of them said, “I wouldn’t want all the hassle of changing my clothes.”

    I smiled and said, “I don’t.”

    She looked down at my feet and said–with NO rising/questioning intonation–“But you didn’t ride in those shoes.”

    “Yes I did.”

    Happens all the time.

  3. The one problem I run into occasionally is that if I catch the clip-in side and start pedaling, even though it kind of works the shoe can really slip off since there isn’t much surface contact. With thin-soled shoes the clip-in mechanism isn’t all that comfortable either.

    I usually bring my left pedal up halfway and have it ready to launch so I have momentum from the get-go. There’s a half-second during which I may look down to make sure the right pedal is flipped the way I want it for the platform.

    But so much easier than changing shoes and so much better than looking dorky! 😀

  4. … I should say “heels and a dress”
    (By the way, I have the same type of pedals and I love them.)

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