Farewell, good and faithful bottom-end Shimano mountain bike shoes. I think you're MO30s. The label is too worn to read now.
I got you when I was working on Cycling Plus, in 1998. You were a size 48 and you didn't fit anyone else, so you'd been hanging around for a while. I snapped you up. You were comfy, and your cleats didn't clack when I walked around. I liked you immediately.
You were with me on my one and only 25-mile time trial on a frankenbike made from some kind of hybrid with a 650B wheel on the front to get the position lower. I was looking down at you when I said: never again.
You were with me when I rode up the Col d'Aspin on a wallowy Marin B17 and you kept me secure on the terrifying descent back down the farm tracks to Campan. I may have melted Rich's new Merrells by putting them too close to the open fire, when I was pissed. But you made it home.
You were with me on countless mountain bike rides. Bikefests and Afan trips and mud-plugging in the hills. You outlasted the B17. And the Kona Blast. And the Kinesis Maxlight. And the Singular Swift. You sat outside, muddy, in the rain. You got the hose and a drip dry on a screw in the eaves of a shed when the rest of the kit felt the luxury of the washing machine and the radiator.
You were with me on endless commutes, and rides with friends, and Audaxes, and sportives. You kept me churning the pedals when I foolishly agreed to try and ride across most of Southern England in a single day. 356km. That was your longest ride, and it was mine. You saw off the Cannondale CAAD-something with the down tube shifters and the Moser and the Specialized Allez and a hundred test bikes.
Your heels wore through at the bottom, and you got holes in the mesh of your toes. Your velcro was full of burrs and your cleats started to clack as your tread wore down. But I still chose you. But now your sole plate has cracked in two and your pedalling days are over. I will miss you, good and faithful bottom-end Shimano mountain bike shoes.