Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Huaraches Revisited

Finally got my Fling entry off last week in the nick of time.  Had been dithering a bit - a few weeks back I picked up a knee injury as a result of a bizarre accident on my commute run to Bellshill.  I stood on a loop of box strapping with my right foot, caught the otherend of it with my left and went down like a sack of spuds, landing with all my weight on my left kneecap.  I tell you, THAT was pain! This happened outside a Tollcross chippie and even the laughter of the baying hyenas inside, who I'd just entertained, lessened slightly when they saw the state of me.  Judging by the state of some of them (whose only contribution towards their 5 a day is the tomato topping on their deep-fried pizza), I'm kind of hoping that I'll have the last laugh, but there's no guarantees on that one of course. I haven't had to stop training but the knee had been uncomfortable ever since, so I wanted to see how that was progressing before commiting to the Fling.  Anyway, a definite improvement last week and faster running actually seemed to help, so it was all systems go and entry posted. Really looking forward to it ....but a 7:00 start, FFS! Still, at least I'm not a Super-Zimmer yet.  It all seems the wrong way round though.  Those who get the extra hour in bed, the elitists, are the ones who are used to pre-dawn workouts in pursuit of their 100+ mile weeks.  They are the ones least likely to be rolling in from the pub in the wee sma' hours, desperately in need of any sleep they can grab, they are the ones most likely to get upset later on, when tourists don't scatter from the path quickly enough on their reckless approach, and they are the ones who'll need the most time to re-hydrate in preparation for the negative effects of their two pints of shandy at the ceilidh.  So I say, next year, set the fast runners off at dawn and give the rest of us a lie-in!

Anyway, on to the main topic of my post. Huaraches seem to be out of favour at the moment.  I've dabbled with them in the past, as have a couple of other WHW bloggers, but I've yet to see anyone toeing a start line in them.  They're an ingenious design and undoubtedly fine for their intended purpose of protecting bare feet from cactus thorns in Copper Canyon but a smooth sole is worse than useless on Scottish mud. Yes, you could add grips but if the sole's too thin, they'll be punching holes into your feet in the first mile. I'm also not convinced that the shoe is connected to your foot snugly enough for fast hill descents or xc rapid twists and turns.

Cutting-edge technology for shoe uppers
For some time though, I've been seeking something huarache-esque but an all-terrain model; virtually upper-less and feather-light but with great grip on mud and a wee bit of cushioning for rocky trails.  What I needed was a space-age weightless super-strong material for the task. As it turned out,there was no need to phone NASA - a eureka momennt in Sainsbury's provided the answer women's tights! So here's what I've come up with, based around a half-inch thick EVA sole:

Hole positions marked

Careful use of scissors to make holes

Using one leg of the tights, coax it through holes with scissor ends.  Tie a knot at each hole position and repeat, working your way round the shoe

The completed upper. Lower part of low-density midsole will receive a thin layer of med-density EVA

Continental Vertical - still the best bike tyre for shoe grips that I've found

Grips superglued to sole

Completed shoe - conventional criss-cross lacing using another leg of the tights - and a further leg for the rear achilles strap

Tying the heel strap - fan out the tights to fit securely and spread the load just below the achilles

So there we have it.  The weight of each upper is precisely three legs of tights - not sure if that would actually register on scales.  The bike tyre grips make up most of the weight but even so, the all-up weight is less than 5 ounces a shoe.  I took them out for a test drive yesterday round Mid-Calder woods. Just an easy effort but I really attacked all the downhills and they handled impeccably - just a minor tweak required to move a knot from too near my left arch and they'll be sorted.  Not sure yet if I'll wear these at the Fling - they're so light it would be practically cheating - but I'll see how they do in the next couple of days and decide later in the week.

1 comment:

John Kynaston said...

Good to see you've entered the Fling. As one of the super-zimmers I won't see you until the end unless those new shoes of yours let you run so fast that you catch me up!

Have a good run.