Saturday, January 13, 2007

Desperate Attempt

This year, I have my whole winter wardrobe dialed in except for my footwear. No matter how comfortable the rest of my body is, my feet still get cold on the really cold days. Friday was in the teens, so before lunch I started looking around the office for things I could put in my shoes to keep my feet warmer.

I'm already wearing wool socks with a neoprene booty that goes up past my ankle. I definitely feel the warmth on the top of my foot, but I can also feel the heat being sucked out of the bottom of my shoe. I can just picture in my head the heat running out of my foot, through the cleat on my shoe, into the pedal, and down the crank.

So anyway, I looked at my coffee cup from Shady Grove, and it had a foam insulator sleeve. I scotch taped the thing to the bottom of my insole, right above the cleat. I used my other foot as the control subject...no foam. Now I'm not sure if it was my imagination, but I swear it felt just a little bit warmer under that part of my foot that had the foam. I still couldn't feel my toes when I got back from the lunch time ride, but it gave me hope. I acquired a sheet of thin packing foam, and I plan to make some insulation out of it, using my insoles as a templates. Stay tuned for the results...

Or...if anyone has a better suggestion, I'd love to hear it! I really don't want to buy $300 winter cycling shoes for conditions that only last a brief time of the year!

13 comments:

Tim said...

That's actually a very clever idea. You lose alot of heat to all that metal in the cleat/pedal connection, so your logic is right on the money.

Another idea is to buy a wool insole, such as those they use in Sorels and other winter boots. They're relatively thin, but insulate well and keep working even when they get wet.

A lot of the riders up here (including me) simply abandon clipless pedals during winter so that we can use a fully closed shoe or boot. I use Ringle Zu-Zu pedals with all the small metal pegs that grip the bottom of my boot, and I stay on the pedals quite well.

I lose some pedaling efficiency, but my feet stay warm and I can get off the pedals instantly when I'm about to go down on ice. That's saved me from some falls.

You might also try some chemical warmers, the little stick-on pads that heat up for a few hours when exposed to air. They're disposable, though, so it kinda sucks to use them for only a short ride.

Jeff said...

I really like the idea of a wool insole. I'll have to keep my eyes open next time I'm out shopping.

I've tried platform pedals before, but used a pair of vans sneakers. I was slipping all over the snow when trying to walk in them. What kind of shoe are you using...like a hiking boot?

I'm thinking of inducing a coma until spring...a hibernation of sorts.

Tim said...

I use some pretty heavy winter boots, because my toes tend to freeze easily (I have some damage from numerous episodes of frostnip).

I use Sorel Caribou boots for moderate winter temps (above 20) then switch to a pair of Baffin boots when it turns cold. The Baffins feel enormous on the pedals, but they're rated to minus-95.

I also put metal screws in the lugs of the soles for better traction on glare ice. It's still slippery, but the screws help a bit -- sort of like studded tires for your feet.

I wouldn't make it more than a few blocks in sneakers. The wind goes right through them. With winter boots, you get wind protection and a pretty high degree of moisture protection. I buy them oversized to allow plenty of room for fleece socks, too.

I've learned the hard way that it's important to allow plenty of room for insulation without making the boots too tight; if you restrict blood flow, you're being counterproductive.

Michelle said...

You can tell Tim is an Alaskan, homemade studded boots! I have made some also, but I don't use mine for riding.

Platform pedals with the metal studs/pegs, lightly insulated leather hiking boots with THICK wool socks is what I use. The metal pegs on the pedals fit nicely into the tread on the hiking boots. I haven't had a problem at all with cold feet. I'm lucky that way :)

rigtenzin said...

I think some people's feet will always be cold. I'm using light pack boots (like Sorels), electrically-heated, wool socks and I still have cold feet.

The wool insole sounds like a good idea. Maybe it will give me a few more degrees of comfort.

Jeff said...

Thanks for all the responses! I may have to try some Sorel's if the weather stays real cold. I may be one of those people that just has cold feet though. In fact, they're cold right now at my desk!

It's warming up to the 30's here this week, so I may be able to hold out. Last night I made some dual layer foam insoles for my shoes and Kristy's shoes. I used the real insole for a template, and then layered the foam under the insole. We will test them out today!

Jeff said...

Kristy and I tested out our newly insulated shoes today. We both felt a bit of a difference. Not drastic mind you, but a slight comfort increase. Our feet were still cold after the ride, but not as painfully cold. It was definitely a good experiment. I'm going to try to locate some wool insoles before resorting to actual snow boots. At least that's my plan now...I'm hoping for warmer weather.

Squirrel said...

Me Answer lyes here:) I wear these "cheaper" then the $300 plus sidi's, with sidetrack shoe covers, and a wicking heavey sock....I don't have two of the same pairs so I don't think it matters much which brand. they work well for me and they are on their 2nd season......good luck:)

Peace

Jeff said...

Wow! Those Answers look great for the price. Thanks for the tip!

Kristy said...

Those Answer winter shoes look awesome and are on sale too! hmm... honey?

Jeff said...

Yes dear, you may purchase some. How can I say no after you got me a new bike last night? You have a lot of love credit built up with me...

Sandie said...

Squirrel - nice idea but the start at an 8.5, foiled again by my small feet....

Kristy said...

Cool! They have my size!