When my sometime girlfriend moved to L.A. last month, she abandoned a lot of her stuff in my apartment. She wanted me to ship a bunch of items to her, but other items she explicitly said she didn’t want to bother to send…..so I threw them out. I mean, it’s time for new beginnings and such; I don’t need her shoe collection staring at me every time I come home. But then of course she calls me to say that she can’t find any shoes that she likes in L.A. (really?). I’ve been smoke screening her for 2 weeks now about “when I’m gonna send her shoes” along with that really soft pillow we playfully fought over each night. I guess I’m gonna have to send ol’ Fluffy down to Cali with a note saying “Sorry I threw your shoes in the dumpster”.
However, with less flats and stilettos cluttering the entryway of my apartment, I decided to get some casual cycling shoes to compliment my “serious” cycling footwear. For some time I’ve really wanted to try KEEN shoes, but their men’s sizes don’t run quite small enough for me. It just dawned on me that I’ve been wearing Salomon running shoes in women’s sizing for years, why not KEEN? Soon I had acquired KEEN’s Arroyo Pedal shoe, which takes an existing sport-sandal-type shoe from the KEEN collection and adds a stiffened sole and SPD 2-bolt, recessed cleat mount. KEEN shoes tend to be fairly wide in the toe box, even though the last of women’s shoes are usually too narrow for my foot. I sized the Arroyo like I do all my cycling shoes, choosing a 39 based on my Sidi shoes, and the selected KEEN felt snug and secure. Since the upper readily gives, even a snug fit proved comfortable for longer walks. When I say the sole is stiffened, the shoe is still oodles more flexible than something like a Sidi Dominator. The shoe was immediately comfortable to my feet, but not in a flimsy flip-flop manner. Walking in the shoe, I had this weird sensation like I was walking barefoot, like I could feel all the contours of the ground but that my feet had grown tougher, more supportive, and grippier. I don’t even like sandals, but I could instantly wear the Arroyo for a full day working on my feet….if the Seattle climate hadn’t already closed out sandal season.
For cycling, the Arroyo is a competent if not competition-worthy article. For someone like me, for whom a rigid Sidi has been my default shoe in all waking hours, I’m not going to say that the Arroyo is about performance. The Arroyo’s super comfy, soft uppers with speed lace closure lack the support for hard pedaling, particularly if one pulls hard on the back-half of the pedal stroke. Without a heel cup, your foot slides fore-aft. So maybe no track racing for these kicks, but for commuting and errand days these shoes kill. Walk around all you want on supermarket linoleum floors, and you’ll never again do an unintended moonwalk in the produce section. Hang out with your non cycling friends, and they’ll probably never notice the cleats. Hell, even you’ll probably forget that you have cleats until you unlock your bike.
I think the perfect match pedal for the Arroyo would be a wide-platform clipless like the newer Shimano M530 or Crank Bros Mallet. The Arroyo would also work well with regular platform pedals, but because the upper is so minimal I don’t that it would be suited for toe clip & straps.
The Arroyo’s mesh and nubuck upper is waterproof but unfortunately provides NO warmth in the recently arrived NW damp n’ drear. Ah, Arroyo…I just got to know you, but now we’ll have to put this relationship on hold until warm weather returns to Seattle….because there is no way in hell I’m moving to L.A.
I wish I had had these shoes for my trip to Oahu last month. I would have still worn my regular cycling shoes for the century ride and training, but the Arroyo is the perfect shoe for wandering around the shops and beaches of Waikiki….by foot or pedal.