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No shoes, No Chamois, No Problem!

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.

21 Responses

WaneringMack

WaneringMack

July 02, 2020

Great and amazing sandals to have touring…pack sunscreen fools; and wear a sun shirt on the road and something to cover your neck and ears in the constant burning heat. I wear one of those Patagonia ones with a hood on it..loose shorts that wick are solid with your brooks saddles, and you’ll look like a golfer. Have fun touring

Marko

Marko

August 12, 2019

Poppi, not only have you carved a trail through the vistas of the USA and beyond…but more, you’ve blazed bright right into my mind brain and our collective velo-consciousness, bringing real truth and ultimate good vibes. I no longer worship at the altar of the velominati. 1000 thankyoussssss 🤘

Andy Stow

Andy Stow

August 12, 2019

I often ride in my Chacos. One time, my front tire kicked up a stick, and it got wedged between my sandal and the ground, and shot straight across my foot, ending up caught between my foot and the front strap. A half inch lower and it would have been straight through my foot.

Freak accident, no damage, I still wear them to ride. But, I’m more careful around sticks.

masmojo

masmojo

May 15, 2018

I discovered Brooks saddles 36 years ago, been riding them ever since; I too like the way cycling in sandals feels, my main issue ended up being that sometimes the tops of my feet would get sunburned. Never quite solved that one and at the time the fully “Attached” sandals available were impractical for other reasons. I’ve been contemplating trying it again & maybe I will? My Van’s are pretty comfy tho.

sofia

sofia

February 21, 2018

i second eric, funny our comments are so close to each other lol. yeah, ive been cycling in the bedrocks loveeee then, but i’m considering clipping into my pedals. have fun guys. lol @ the ‘ur a sandal guy now ppl give u free weed’ hahahah best ever. <3

Eric

Eric

February 02, 2018

Love it ! I love my bedrocks, but not so much the combo with my pedals. What pedals are you using to make a good comfortable combo?

Ana Johnson

Ana Johnson

June 02, 2017

So inspiring!! Thank you! My husband and I both LOVE bicycles and he is already and onboard to help me convert, or buy, a new steel framed bike. I want to just use my Niner gravel bike. It will be perfect.
Can you please tell the exact saddle that Namz uses…PLEASE!
I looked at the Brooks B17 and there seemed to be many choices.
We live just south of Austin Texas in San Marcos. Now to order my Bedrocks….just in time for the Texas summer heat.

Drew Pflaumer

Drew Pflaumer

May 17, 2017

More important question: Where did you get that awesome flag of New England cycling cap? We could use a few of those buzzing around Lil Rhody.

Momma

Momma

May 09, 2017

And less prone to Jublia foot fungus.

skyler

skyler

May 07, 2017

i’m totally buying these now.

Dad in Leavy

Dad in Leavy

May 03, 2017

Fantastic read! Kerouac lives on in spirit. Inspiring. I do like the “modern” saddles though, without the diaper. I’ll take one of everything else in this article. Cheers from Das Mountains.

Davey

Davey

May 02, 2017

i wasted all that money on spandex
Michael

Michael

May 02, 2017

you truely are an inspiration to my cycling life sir, maybe I shouldn’t have made fun of my sister-in-laws bedrocks..I might just buy some.

Max Dilthey

Max Dilthey

May 02, 2017

I have a bunch of barefoot shoes/sandals and after seeing your IG posts last year I started biking in them. Not full time, but a lot. I dig!

Steph

Steph

May 02, 2017

I completely agree. As a curvy woman, cycling clothes never ever worked for me and always made me look like a chump. Once I switched to my Brooks and then because of living in the Northwest and not wanting to worry about water, switched over to the Sella Anatomic, the only spandex allowed was the 1% in my jeans. I’ve never been happier and felt more sexy. And minimal footwear is the best way for your feet to also get a workout and say hello to the earth.

Piskian

Piskian

May 01, 2017

Rad.Been riding sandalled for while now,here in Cornwall.wool finger socks and tabu if it gets a tad nippy.Hose the toes if muddy.Keep on,Poppi,you great striding beastie you!

Risto Vainio

Risto Vainio

April 29, 2017

Love this. Life and biking beyond spandex is very rewarding indeed. Your story made very curious whether exposing one’s feet more might actually make them less prone to cold. Up here in Finland that’d be gold.

Dave Wendling

Dave Wendling

April 27, 2017

Thanks for sharing. Inspiring!

benijana

benijana

April 27, 2017

you are awesome. bedrocks are awesome.

Namz

Namz

April 27, 2017

love of my life, fabulous teacher, and now a writer of scholarly articles on the Fred life. how lucky am i?

Steve CHACO Chase

Steve CHACO Chase

April 26, 2017

Great writing! Funny while preaching to the choir! Keep on Bedrocking!

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