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Them shoes got no sole

Well, casual footwear masquerading as mountain bike shoes.... it looks like this is where the trail ends.

My loyal New Balance sneaks. Not sure how long they've been around, but it's gotta be close to a decade. Their versatility has been most impressive, as they covered everything from 'casual Fridays' to trail riding.

I've endured years of "Dude, why don't you just get some Five Tens?" I'd always ask why, and hear about how your feet stick to the pedals. But my feet do stick to the pedals. OK, so they'd start telling me how Five Tens have more support... and yada yada.. at which point I know they're just regurgitating some review they saw on Pink Bike. I don't ride with Aaron Gwin... I'm out there with my fellow once-a-week'ers, who aren't yearning for more arch support to 'rail berms.'

So I literally rode my NB's into the ground - in fact I lost balance riding a skinny, and put my foot in ankle-deep mud on their last ride. That's pretty literal.

But before that fateful day, the NB's logged as many miles as my wife would let me get away with. Powered by my stick-figure legs, they pummeled the pedals time and time again, and any instance where my feet removed themselves from the pedals was probably because the rest of me was being removed from the rest of my bike.

My mind runs a fine line of embracing the improvements in mountain bike technology, and not wanting to blame gear for riding performance. The latter helps me avoid impulsively buying things like 1x12 drivetrains, for example.

To be added to my proverbial cart, the thing I'm buying has to not just improve my riding, but change the riding experience. Example? My Sunnto watch. I can barely find my way out of a mall parking lot, let alone when I'm following directions like "...and then, you remember that big rock?" No man, I don't remember that rock, nor do I remember that tree. But you know who does!? My Suunto GPS watch! I can stop at intersections in the trail and easily find my way. That was worth buying. It changes my experience.

But shoes? When mine work fine.. at.. How are they going to change the riding experience? I guess for one thing, I would no longer be the butt of jokes like the "I Only Ride Park" video.

The whole deal changed though, after I stepped in one mud puddle too many, and the sole fell off my beloved New Balance kicks. I was once again in the market for shoes. I even looked for alternative flat pedal shoes - just curious - but could find no standouts. I don't know what kind of grip they have on pedals, but Five Ten clearly has a grip on the pedal market. So after years of heckling, advertising, and watching the pros... I went and joined the club.

I must admit, I felt extra mountain bikerish that day. Not enough to start calling things "rad", but enough to drink a celebratory IPA. I got to post my new kicks on Instagram, which drew in even more comments about how they're the best thing since downhill racing was invented...

So far, all I've managed is an hour of skills practice in my front yard, working on manuals and bunny hops, but presumably a good test of what these things are about. I've certainly got nothing bad to say .. they stuck to those pedals as promised, and felt fairly comfortable on my feet, although not 10 years worn-in comfortable - but that's probably a good thing.

Today I'm gearing up for a ride after work at a local favorite trail, NEMBA Vietnam. Of all the terrain around here, I can't think of a better proving ground. I'll probably run into a few other people wearing the same shoes. The Five Tens won't have the same soul as my NB's, but at least they'll have a sole.

Hey do I get to call it "a sesh" now that I'm wearing these?

No? OK, yeah, that's probably right; I'll hold off still.

Proceeds help injured riders and causes in the mountain bike community.

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