faff can be great. relate the notion of faff, or faffing, to last weekend's tweed run in london: waxing of moustaches, donning fabulous looking tweeds, or in the case of one or two of the fairer sex, billowy cotton dresses and red high heels, cannot be seen as anything other than faff, and pretty much of the highest order. but in the context of why such faff was necessary, the end easily exercised the means. the fact that so many like-minded cyclists were willing to partake of such communal faff made the whole so much greater than the sum of the parts.
of course, faff is one of those neutral institutions that can be viewed from either side; the notion of packing clothes and toothbrushes for the whole family to head off for a bank holiday weekend is not a level of faff most of us revel in, and i'm sure that figuring out the level of refund due to airline passengers grounded because of volcanic activity is faff on a scale most of us would likely prefer to avoid. the faffing i was trying to avoid last saturday as i tweeded, was any incessant necessity to clip cleats into pedals and, just as often, unclip. saturday afternoons have a tendency to be busy wherever you live; even bowmore main street has more than its usual share of pedestrians and badly parked cars than is the case on a regular weekday.
the country's capital city, not unsurprisingly, manages this on a much grander scale, and while the tweed run marshals displayed a degree of valour above and beyond the call of duty, by stopping aggressive traffic (is there any other kind?), there were numerous occasions when the flow of tweed came to both a ceremonious and unceremonious halt. it is distinctly unseemly when in pelotonic company to come to a full stop by running into the back of a one hundred year-old rare bicycle and promptly falling onto the ground. it's the laughter and pointing that does it you know.
so what's a newbie tweedle to do? i took preventative action to avoid any unnecessary faff of a pedalling nature, happy to forego clipping and cleating for regular shoe/pedal interface. toe clips will mess with the sveltitude (i made that up) one can present to an ignoring public, so even those were ditched in favour of replica campagnolo pedals devoid of any restraining accoutrements. what of appropriate footwear? given that this was the tweed run, a pair of converse all-stars would likely have ruined the overall matching effect of tweed and argyle; an event featuring so many brooks saddles would determine leather to be the only satisfactory solution, and in this case a pair of dromarti storica leather shoes.
let's be perfectly blunt: these shoes are to die for, even if they never make it as far as your feet. the workmanship can but be admired both from afar and at close quarters, in similar manner to the sportivo model that i regularly wear clipped to mavic pedals. but in this case, the resin sole has been replaced with leather, featuring raised and stiffened sections where foot meets pedal, as well as at toe and heel. the holy grail of footwear applicable to a cycling environment is to make the sole stiff enough to allow efficient energy transfer through whichever pedals are being used, while allowing for comfortable walking across less than strictly level tarmac or pavement.
the grail is here.
shiny shoes and waxed laces do not a satisfied cyclist make, if the experience falls short of promise. and the experience would also be null and void if such footwear were only appropriate for events of the nature of the tweed run. not so. these shoes are so undeniably fabulous, that even a scruff of no insignificant stature such as myself, has subsequently looked for every angle and opportunity to wear them in public (and i've done not too badly on that score either). after a few pedal revolutions, the fact that my feet were attired in hand-crafted italian leather had subsumed such luxury and entered the world of designer pragmatism. in keeping with each style available from dromarti, traditional is the watchword, but not to the extent of ostentatious retro; the storicas have that delightful ability to blend with whichever mode of sartorial opulence you may have chosen for the day, whether that be lycra shorts and sportwool, or jeans and a merino baselayer. rather more subtly than a pair of mavic yellow zxelliums.
on the straight (well, almost) and narrow, that occasionally presented itself on london's streets, where a modicum of unrestrained speed was not only possible, but quite likely invited, pedalling suffered not one whit. yet all the stopping and starting, scuffing and flicking and, dare i say it, walking was accomplished with ease. if your cycling demands that the daily commute can encounter almost as much walking as cycling, or the bicycle is a form of transport that takes in a conspicuous amount of shopping, and not always in the one emporium, you need a pair of these very fine shoes almost as much as you want a pair. scruffy as i may be, i'm not averse to owning and wearing at least one item of what common consent would decree is stylish attire, even if, or perhaps especially if it's confined to my footwear. yes, those all-stars would valiantly attempt to fulfil the outline of the job at foot, and may even look quirkily funky in the process, but let's not kid ourselves, these are the shoes for the connoisseur.
in this case, i am that connoisseur.
dromarti storica leather shoes are available in limted quantities from size 37 to 47 at a cost of £169.97, a price that seems somewhat of a steal for such quality and craftsmanship.
posted saturday 17 april 2010..........................................................................................................................................................................................................