Jun 21, 2012 View Comments by

As I wheeled the weekly trash down the drive for tomorrow morning’s pickup, there was an unusually dear part of me in one of the bags.  Earlier in the evening I’d made the painful decision to throw away my worn out riding boots, and it seemed that they somehow deserved a more dignified fate than being tossed into a landfill amidst dirty diapers and rotting table scraps.

The boots had been my constant riding companion for the past seven years, and I’d logged somewhere around seventy thousand miles in them. I wore them when I attended the first RoadRUNNER Touring Weekend event, and they’d been with me as I began touring and writing for RoadRUNNER. They’d seen everything from trails, to interstate highways, and temperatures from well below freezing to sweltering August heat. The boots had seen hiking duty, camping duty, and had been under linen-draped dinner tables at restaurants where I had doubts about being seated due to our riding apparel.

Like everything and everyone, they finally succumbed to the ravages of time and wear, but they hadn’t given up without a fight. Over the years I’d waterproofed them countless times, occasionally taking them in for a pre-season professional cleanup. And when they needed more than just a cleanup, the local cobbler (there are still a few of them around) came to the rescue, helping to squeak a few more years of use out of them.

The first thing to go was the Velcro, which closes the flap over the side zipper. Velcro is great stuff, other than the fact that it sounds like twenty cats being pulled from a screen door when you pull it apart, but it does wear out eventually. Off to the cobbler for a heavy-duty snap installation on each boot. Problem #1 solved for the life of the boots.

Problem #2 popped up when the zipper began so separate occasionally during rides. It always separated about halfway down, jamming at the separation point and preventing me from removing the offending boot until it was good and ready to release my foot. This problem would have been a deal breaker by itself, but when problem #3 developed a short time later the boot’s fate was sealed.

The final blow came as I noticed a sole parting ways with the rest of the boot after a ride. Some black silicone squeezed into the opening proved to be remarkably effective, and didn’t look too bad either. Several rides later, however, the other boot cried “Me Too…Me Too!” and I decided that the time had come to replace them.

I suppose I could have sent them to the old boot equivalent of a nursing home by planting some “Hen and Chicks” cacti in them and placing them amongst some ceramic garden gnomes in a flowerbed, but somehow the landfill seemed to be the preferable option. Farewell friends, you will not be forgotten.

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