The purpose of road cycling shoes might seem clear—for road cycling. Although no one in this world, or at least that I know of, will spend the absolute entirety of their day on a bike. There will be times when you’ll want to take a break whether it’s to eat something or relieve yourself somewhere. And if you don’t typically carry an extra set of shoes with you to accommodate walking, then you’d have to make do with the cycling shoes that you’re already wearing.
So, can you walk in road cycling shoes? It is, in fact, possible to walk in them—however, road cycling shoes are not designed specifically for that type of activity. The lack of comfort and arch support will not only make it difficult for you, but walking in them can also be harmful to the shoe itself.
While you may not always be able to avoid having to walk in road cycling shoes, it can still be helpful to know what about them makes it so difficult to walk. In this article, I will point out the most common issues found when trying to walk in road cycling shoes.
What Makes Walking in Them So Difficult?
The design and purpose of road cycling shoes are simple. They’re used mainly by cyclists who desire the most efficient pedaling. Therefore, the soles on these specific styles are the stiffest of all biking shoes and offer little to no traction on the bottom. Road cycling shoes also come with three-hole cleats for clipping onto the pedals, which will throw off your balance if you try to walk in them.
Road cycling shoes are perfect if you’ve thought about bike racing, but certainly not ideal should you need to walk somewhere far. Especially if you’re trudging through the cold and rain, since they’re also lightweight and ventilated. The smooth sole at the bottom may cause you to slip and fall on your bum if it’s wet outside and anything laying on the ground could easily get stuck in the cleats, thus ruining them for later use.
The Point of Road Cycling Shoes
Road cycling shoes are made to enhance pedaling efficiency while providing the proper support for your feet and body while on the bike. When you are riding a bike, your body automatically relies on your feet to help keep the rest of your body balanced. Which is why the inflexible sole is so important.
The stiffness of the sole aids your body in remaining upright and providing less of a chance of you falling over. The three-hole cleats at the bottom of the shoe are for clipping into the pedals of the bike, making pedaling a lot easier. Three-hole cleats also provide the most pedaling power and balance, as opposed to the two-hole cleats.
It can also decrease the amount of pressure on the spots where your foot is fastened and give you confident assurance that your feet will remain secure even if you decide to pedal faster.
The shoes are supposed to be tight and especially snug around the heel areas without adding too much pressure to the instep of your foot. The reason they need to fit so tight is to keep them from slipping off while you’re pedaling.
Let’s pretend you somehow managed to run over a sharp object and it messed up your tires. Your car, the closest building or even a bench is about a mile or two away and you now have to walk your bike across that distance. Not to mention you heard on the weather earlier that it was supposed to rain, so now you’re even more apprehensive about having to walk back. Here is when we might notice some damaging effects when walking in road cycling shoes.
Damage to You
The first stressor is removing yourself from the bike. Make sure you remember to unclip yourself from the pedal, unless you want to fall over and take the whole bike down with you, resulting in possibly injuring your leg or even your arm from trying to catch yourself. Ouch.
But now the real trek begins. The first thing you might notice is how awkward walking is. Normally, people walk in what is called the “gait cycle”, also known as the heel-toe-heel-toe pattern but because of the protruding cleats on the balls of your feet, you won’t be able to fully strike that “toe”. If anything, you’ll feel like you’re walking on your heels. Not to mention how tight the shoes already are around the heel area.
Your natural instinct may be to adjust your posture or footing, but chances are that no matter how you try to adjust, it’s still going to be awkward or uncomfortable, thus messing up your gait cycle. In any normal circumstance, whenever we walk, there’s naturally a small shift in our spines, but an elongated disruption in our natural gait cycle will ultimately result in some lower back pain.
The shoes are made from a light and breathable material, which is great when you’re pedal pushing, but horrible when you have miles to walk in the rain. Not only will your shoes get utterly soaked, but so will your socks. And depending on how cold the temperature is, you can lose feeling in your toes which is never good.
Damage to the Shoe
Your cycling shoes are probably covered in mud now, along with grass, rocks and other debris caught inside the crevices of the cleats. Once you get home and clean them off, you can now see how fast that walk wore down the bottom of them. The deformation of the cleats will make securing the clip into the pedals an issue, causing you to have to buy another pair which can be costly.
Cycling Shoe Maintenance
If you need to clean your shoes off or want to keep them clean, here are some tips that you could use to help keep your cycling shoes in tip-top shape:
- Cleat cover – For the instances where walking is necessary, cleat covers can protect your cleats so that you won’t have to buy whole new shoes. You can easily store them in a jacket pocket or fasten them to your bike somehow.
- Shoe Protector – Spray this stuff on to keep them from getting too messed up in the first place, that way it’s an easier clean.
- Shoe Covers – After spraying on the shoe protector, keep them covered. This will give them added protection, especially when you’re not using them.
- Dishwasher – Yes, the dishwasher, not the washing machine. The dishwasher is a lot gentler than the washing machine, just make sure you remember to remove the cleats. The inner sole can sit right next to the shoes.
- Baby Wipes – Maybe you’re a little bit skeptical about using the dishwasher or you don’t have one. Baby wipes are a good alternative to use.
- Toothbrush – Should all else somehow fail, a good ole toothbrush should do the trick!
Drying your shoes are also important, whether you got stuck in the rain or just finished cleaning them:
- Newspaper – Another old trick is stuffing the inside with newspaper.
- Nappies – Some people claim that this helps to absorb the moisture from the inside of the shoe.
- Sun – If it’s nice and hot out, you can stick them on your porch, windowsill or backyard.
- Boot Dryer – Probably the most expensive option, but aside from the cost, it’s proven to be a very effective method.