Our favorite two wheeled drifter Benedict Aka Ultraromance, writes about his transition from his old spandex-laden cycling lifestyle to the freedom of touring and living in Bedrock Sandals. Be sure to read this guest post and follow Benedict on Instagram and checkout his webstore.
I was 28 years old. The previous 15 years of my life had been spent as a cyclist. Not the kinda cyclist you see in a bike lane at rush hour, or out dinging bells on rail trails, ha, i turned my nose up at those types. “Freds”, I’d say to myself as I looked down at my heart rate monitor while muscling my spendy spindly Italian race rocket over the next imaginary finish line.
My attire was azebra print lycra leotard, my legs had been shorn before i’d even hit puberty. I was quite comfortable with being uncomfortable while pursuing my passionfor bicycles and my petty amateur victories aboard them. So what happened?
Yep, thats me in the back. I’ve always liked gold.
Far before the zebra suit days the bicycle had always been a constant in my life. My aversion for everything motorized locked me into an immortal deal with the bicycle, and it reciprocated in becoming my greatest childhood friend. The quiet meditative motion of pedaling the Connecticut countryside put me at empyrean peace with whatever was going on in my life, throughout my awkward adolescence and into a confusing post college young adulthood.
Then something changed…I no longer wished to pedal in anger. I didn't want to spend my days hunched over doing intervals on Texas highway feeder roads. Fast and far at all costs felt vapid and hollow.
There had to be a more sustainable way to be a cycling epicurean. A way completely disassociated with wearing a diaper crotched plastic super hero suit with clip in ballet shoes straddled atop a skinny tyred machine built for inducing pain. I began readingGrant Peterson manifestos on “un-racing”, while pouring over theRivendell Bicycle Works catalogue that depicted fanciful ornate lugged upright steel bikes with baskets ridden by smiling faces in ordinary street clothes. “You can't be serious about bikes and ride around in STREET CLOTHES!” I’d mutter, but it really looked like they were onto something there. Turns out they were.
The first potion I drank/smoked regarding this was the epiphany that I was riding the wrong saddle. Modern saddles post 1980-ish are made of hard plastic with a layer of thin, dense foam padding over the top. These saddles are designed to be ridden with a chamois (the diaper shorts you see at spin class). Prior to the 80s, saddles were made of thick leather that hammocked, molding to your anatomy.
Thesesaddles did not require a special pair of diapers to wear, and had over 100 years of history to attest to how well they worked. I got myself a Brooks B17, and never wore a diaper again (well... not until I’m in my 90s hopefully). I was riding in street clothes!
Great place to get a nice foot tan.
This new realization had me just riding my bike around the city of Austin, where I was spending the winters at the time, putting in 30-40 miles just visiting friends and swimming holes off the beaten path. I would head out in the morning with no real agenda or destination, just out for an all day cruise. I began to remember how good this methodology of happiness felt to me as a kid, weaving down the road, pedaling for pleasure and not anger. Bikes began making sense again.
It was around this time too that I began touring full time. I’d done a number of tours up to this point spandexed and clipped in. I liked touring all right, but wearing the same padded petri dish on my crotch day after day, while my feet swelled and rotted inside stiff soled clip in shoes left room for improvements. Plus the high milage and fast pace this type of attire inspires, was becoming less and less a part of my ethos in both cycling, as well as my lifestyle and world views.
It was time to take to the road with a befittingly cliche minimalist approach to both travel and life. I would now work as little as possible, living off the bike with no destination nor concept of time. I had one set of creek washed clothes that I would ride in and do everything else in… hit the local coop, and the nightclubs all in my “cycling” clothes veiled in a thin-heavy haze of essential oils. Life was simple, as simple as my chosen mode of transport. Buttttttt I was still wearing sneakers. My feet were crying for help, and i didn't know what to tell them.
I found love along the way too. Here is my lover Namz setting up for the night somewhere nice.
Here is Namz looking happy she has Bedrocks on.
This is where this origin story starts becoming relevant. I was an early adopter to the bedrock minimalist sandal platform. I had taken up trail running in Bedrock V 1.0 at the fevered pitch of bicycles briefly not making sense to me. On the ensuing tours after this, I would carry my bedrocks with me to wear when i’d get off the bike at night.
I loved the way the air felt on my feet, so eventually i began riding in them, ignoring the way the pedals poked at me through the thin soles. The payoffs were salutary. I was there, I was becoming a sandal cyclist. The ultimate Fred.Bedrocks are wicked aero!
- Full ventilation. FULL.
- Wicked grippy on the pedals.
- Starts raining? Free foot shower.
- Creek crossing? Free foot bath.
- No sock tan.
- I’m no Christian, but Jesus had a pretty cool look.
- No need for socks.
- Yer a sandal guy now. People just give you free weed.
- My feet actually stopped getting cold. I've only read about this, but it really happened.
- High fashion.
- I’m a plus size foot model now.
Everyone wants to blast through puddles, but no one wants soggy feet all day!
So that's where I’m at currently. From a hardline XstraightedgeX roadie, to a puffing woolen clad plus size foot model on a fat tyred bike with handlebars jacked up to the moon. It's a slippery slope that is lubed in extra virgin coconut oil.
The simplicity of the chain moving the wheel compliments the attire…the motion of the world slowly passing by as the miles graciously tick off with the wind at your back, but sometimes in your face. Pedal through life, the metaphor. Its no secret that slowing down life and living minimalistically has a profound effect on one’s mental state and our impact on the environment we are here to enjoy. Try sandal touring and become a huge instagram success. If anything you will get a nice foot tan.
The pace of life.
Bedrocks matched with a tech poncho. Bike touring essentials. And very aero.
All photos property of Benedict Wheeler.