It's like the lead-up to the last night of Hannukah here at The Cycle World Headquarters. I mentioned a few days ago that I was going back to clipless once I scared up a decent pair of SPD-compliant shoes, as my old ones are held together with duct tape, Shoe Goo and used chewing gum.
The problem is, I have mutant feet. In a New Balance running shoe (bless you, New Balance, patron saint of the paddle-footed), I take a U.S. size 10 in an EEEE width. No, that is not a typo or an attempt to transcribe the music from the Psycho shower scene. I said four (count 'em, four) E's. Basically, my feet are about as wide as they are long. Most bike shoes are dainty princess slippers cut for the wispy European wood-nymphs of the professional peloton. And SPD sandals, the supposed savior of the wide of foot? Most mash two sizes into one, hanging me out to dry between the too-small 43-44 and the "grab an oar to paddle 'em down the river" 45-46.
That problem only gets compounded when the selection of bike shoe brands at the local shops goes something like this: Shimano, Specialized, Specialized, Specialized, Shimano, Sidi, Shimano, Shimano, Specialized, Shimano, Shimano. Of those, only one offers sizing by width, Sidi... and the locals don't stock the wides (called Mega, which brings back bad memories of "Husky" boys' jeans from my even-fatter youth), so even if I wanted to drop the equivalent of a car payment on a fancy pair of Italian SPD-loafers, I'd have to special order.
But not so fast, Mr. Frugal Fat-Foot... turns out, mail-order monstrosity Performance offers one of their house-brand Forte shoes (just a rebranded Exus or Exustar or The Artist Formerly Known As Exus, or The Unpronounceable Symbol Formerly Known As A Generic Shoe That Everyone Rebrands) in a WIDE width for about 1/3 the price of those stylish and spendy Sidis. Normally, I regard mail-order shoes like food from a dollar store... sure, it's cheaper, and it might be OK, but do you really want to take the chance? In this case, however, I'm going for it.
They're on the way to World Headquarters right now. I'll report (and provide links) for the benefit of my fat-footed bike bretheren once they arrive.