24 May 2017
WORDS & PHOTOS x Tommy Mulvoy
My feet hurt. While an unreachable wart, crunchy calluses, tender toenails, and a somehow still sensitive four-inch-long scar that arcs across my left instep play a role, it’s the bunion on my right foot that’s the main culprit. Over the past 20 years, this walnut size bunion has been pushing my big toe rightwards so that today my big toe overlaps half of the index toe. At times, I find myself walking on the outside of my right foot in order to alleviate putting pressure on my bunion, or I try and stay off my feet altogether. For these reasons, it has been hard to get a foot massage from my wife, but even more difficult to retire the only pair of mountain bike shoes I have ever owned.
From my first mountain bike ride in western Massachusetts, USA in the fall of 2001, where I broke a rib on a tree stump after just 500 meters, to my last ride in the hills surrounding my new hometown of Basel, Switzerland last fall, my feet have been happily ensconced in the same pair of riding shoes. The $200 purchase price was a bit hard to stomach back in 2001, but if I averaged out the cost per ride, which I am conservatively estimating at 50 rides per year, my Dominators cost about 25 cents per use. Over the years, they have pedaled me on some of America’s top trails in Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Vermont, and on international trails in Jordan, Germany, Switzerland, and France.
Like parts of my body, my shoes have been in for a host of small repairs including numerous applications of Gorilla glue on both toes; four new Velcro straps; enough stitching on the uppers that both shoes now resemble a professional hockey player’s face; a new right side buckle; and last fall, pre-ride electrical tape wrapped around the left shoe to compensate for an absent buckle that was torn off during a vicious fall on the downhill trails in Todtnau, Germany. While the giggles from my riding partner were maddening, the lack of adjustability during subsequent rides was even worse.
After moving to Switzerland last year, my rides transitioned from the buffed-out trails that are found in many of my favorite riding spots in the U.S. to the more rugged alpine rides found in the Alps. During fall rides in Engelberg and Andermatt, where substantial hike-a-bike sections on rock are the…