The most notable thing about accidents is that you rarely see them coming, and you rarely understand their consequences. For instance, standing on the counter of the coffee shop I owned late one night after closing I was adjusting some items on a display shelf, I didn’t know that my future of walking and riding was about to radically change.
Wearing only socks (you don’t stand on a food counter in shoes, so I had put on fresh socks and was standing on parchment paper) I finished adjusting the decorative items on a shelf, and crouched to step down from the stomach-high counter to the couch a few feet lower. I’m not sure why the couch slid away from the wall—it’s a big, heavy piece of furniture and always a bear to move when we wanted to clean behind it–but it slid away from the wall. As it moved, I started to do a split between the moving couch and the stationary counter until I was far enough from the counter that I slid off of that.
My feet hit the tile flooring, my right foot coming down with the kinetic energy of a rapidly accelerating limb and a mind scrambling to regain balance. The shock was sudden and painful and I lay crumpled on the floor for a few moments contemplating if I should pass out or vomit. I did neither, but I remained in the fetal position for what felt like quite a long time.
When I tried to stand, I could put no weight on the ball of my right foot. I staggered around a bit and then called my wife and asked her to come get me as there was no way I could walk home.
Over the next few days I’d see a podiatrist that would diagnose me with a small fracture in my second metatarsal, but would miss the torn tendon and ligaments I also had. She mistreated my injury and left me with lingering pain, a feeling like a knife being pressed into the ball of my foot. When I found a good foot surgeon (who instantly discovered the torn soft tissue with an MRI) I’d embark on two corrective surgeries, the first to shorten my toe, reattach the ligament, and screw it back together and a second surgery to remove the screws from the first operation.
The surgery came more than a year-and-a-half after the injury, and while that was nearly five years ago, I still haven’t completely recovered.
Walking hurt and clipping into a bike pedal was excruciating (cleats are positioned just under my injured joints), and I went from a near-daily rider who tackled several centuries a year to someone that barely got on a bike. As my foot got better, riding still hurt, largely due to the stiff and unforgiving design of most bike shoes. I have wide feet so often have to go a size up in bike shoes to accommodate the width, but that creates a lot of flex in the toe box and I have to seriously tighten down the straps to keep from flopping around—bad for my joints.
When a pair of Lintamon Adjust Pro Plus shoes came in to test I jumped (figuratively, jumping still hurts) at the chance to review them. The Lintamon shoe has an incredible range of adjustability, with dials controlling the width, length and toe box of each foot. For those used to the shiny, handcrafted leather shoes from Sidi or Giro, these shoes will look a bit odd. Instead of streamlined and curved leather wrapping from forefoot to heel, on the the Lintaman there are several sections connected via dials and straps and flaps. It looks a bit as if Dr. Frankenstein designed a shoe (albeit it one with a certain sense of style and a high-viz color) but it functions as if Dr. Scholls made it instead.
The adjustability on the shoes is phenomenal. It’s possible to independently adjust the width and the length of the foot, which means I no longer need a toe-box that’s too big just to accommodate my foot width. The heel cup is often an issue for me with shoes, thanks again to the need to wear shoes a size up to accommodate my width. My heel will often slide out of the shoes if I pull too hard on a stroke. With the Lintaman shoes I can dial in the heel cups so that they cradle, rather than slide against my foot.
The Lintaman Adjust Pro Plus are the highest-end shoes in the company’s lineup, but they offer several other adjustable shoes as well. The Adjust Pro lacks the adjustable heel cup, but is otherwise the same shoe. There are also shoe covers (that I did not try) that keep the dials and laces free of road grime.
While my feet will probably never be free of pain on a ride, the Linataman shoes provide as close to a pain-free ride as I’m likely to ever experience again. I can dial them in for the thickness of my orthotics if I need to ride with them, and I can tweak them during the ride as my pedaling needs change during a ride. They have allowed me to return to a level of cycling that I didn’t think would be possible again.
For many riders, a standard cycling shoe is all that will ever be needed, but for many riders, a standard shoe is never the right choice. It’s possible to go with a completely custom shoe, but for my money I’d rather have the Lintaman Adjust Pro Plus, as it can be adjusted on the fly, every ride, to accommodate my feet, socks, and the rigors of the day’s ride.