Remembering why I love it -- Even with my new, red El Mariachi in the house, my green singlespeed '07 El Mariachi never disappoints me when I hop on an pedal, as I did to work today -- it was the only riding I got in for the day. If you're pedaling around an '07 and can't scrape up the spare change to get yourself an '08, don't worry -- you've still got a kick ass ride -- it's definitely still one of my favorite frames ever. The '08 is destined to be another classic rendered in True Temper steel, but the qualities that make '07 great are holding up well despite the arrival of the newer frameset/geometry.
New Casseroll in the family -- Check out EP's new ride. Sweet... It's the first 57cm Casseroll I've seen in-person, and it's large and in charge, with plenty of room for big, fat road or even 'cross tires. Those are 35c Panaracer T-Serv tires on there! Super sweet!! I liked EP's setup so much that I ended up pulling the 'cross tire off the front of Laura's Casseroll and put a 32c Michelin Dynamic on the front to match the 28c Dynamic on the rear. It's a pretty nice setup too. The Dynamic is a heck of a bang-for-the-buck commuting/road tire in Michelin's line, and they're available in a huge range of sizes.
In other news, I recently bought a pair of the Pearl Izumi X-Alp Enduro shoes thinking they'd be nothing more than a pair of commuting shoes, but they've turned out to be a new favorite for my feet, which is quite a surprise, as they're more like running shoes than super-stiff racing cycling shoes. That said, they're ultra-comfortable, are stiff enough for long distance pedaling so far, and they're eminently walkable. And notice how the sole stiffening plate (the orange part of the sole) ends about 3/4-way back? Well, that means the running shoe-style cushioning that's built into the sole is actually able to do its job absorbing shock -- pretty cool. The flex groove just ahead of the cleat also gives the shoe some flex in the forefoot, which is the critical element that helps give it the natural feel when walking.
They're good enough on the bike that I'm actually thinking about giving them a run at TransIowa in April. We'll see if I think the sole is stiff enough to hold up for the better part of 320 miles. It might be time to bring out the carbon fiber... But it's possible these might just be enough, and the comfort factor might put them over the top. Plus, at an MSRP of just $109.95, they're a certifiable steal. Two hook-and-loop fasteners plus a ratcheting buckle make them easy to get on and off the feet. For those not into looking like they're wearing space boots will be into the version that looks just like Pearl Izumi's lace-up trail running shoe, but has the same X-Alp cycling sole -- it's called the X-Alp Seek. I bought a pair for my wife, and she's diggin' 'em. Showen has a pair and likes 'em too. They're even a few bucks less expensive, at $84.99.
I have to admit -- Pearl Izumi has made some significant strides with their shoe line of late. I think their new offering is worthy of standing toe-to-toe with the top offerings from the traditional leaders in the cycling shoe market. Give 'em a look -- www.pearlizumi.com.