As June turned to July, Lachlan Morton kept pedaling. The little pink dot of his GPS tracker is heading toward the start of the Tour de France's Stage 8, which will skirt north of Annecy, sending riders toward a crash course with the Alps.
But as Morton's pedals kept turning over during his Alt Tour bikepacking trip, the rider's followers began noticing something peculiar. The Australian wasn't wearing his normal cycling shoes.
Morton's bright pink EF Education-Nippo cycling kit was all the same, but his bare feet were exposed to the elements, nestled in a pair of Birkenstock sandals. It turns out that the rider was suffering from a bit of knee pain and opted for a slightly more comfortable pedaling setup.
"He decided to ride in a pair of sandals he got yesterday and got new flat pedals yesterday as well to go with them," the team wrote on its website. "It didn’t seem to bother Lachlan too much though as his average speed remained the same and by day’s end he said his knee felt a lot better already."
Although the question of clipless pedals versus flat pedals is the subject of constant consternation in cycling circles, Morton doesn't seem too bothered by sporting footwear that's more at home at a backyard barbeque rather than a long-distance road cycling trip.
“The sandals are a hit, man! I’m really enjoying it," he said.
Morton's trip is self-supported, so he's not allowed to accept outside help from say, the EF mechanics. He is allowed to buy his own supplies throughout the ride though. So it's likely that he found a bike shop somewhere in the middle of France, bought a pair of flat pedals, swapped them out with his regular clipless pedals, and continued down the road in sandals.
We can only imagine the look on the shop employee's faces when a sweaty guy wearing EF kit turned up looking to get flat pedals installed on his Cannondale SuperSix Evo bikepacking rig.
It appears that the non-traditional setup has not been a problem, with Morton maintaining his average speed. Perhaps fellow Australian and gravity mountain biking legend, Sam Hill, who famously has run flat pedals his entire career, would be proud. Though Hill did admit at the Enduro World Series in Italy last week that clips were faster for the specific track conditions.
However, EF reports that with the Alps growing closer, Morton will switch to clips to tackle the massive amount of climbing.
"While it’s been smooth sailing on the flatter ground so far, as soon as he hits the mountains his progress will slow considerably as he heaves his gear over the numerous passes," the team said on Instagram.