I’m sorry to disappoint you, but this isn’t going to be one of those shoe reviews in which I get super wound up and talk a bunch of shit and, you know, shit1. Maybe that’s because I’m doing this detox/cleanse thing that my wife said we should do2 and I’m not supposed to drink coffee but I can drink green tea and so my caffeine intake is pretty much nonexistent. I’m on green tea number eleven this morning, in case you’re wondering.
Way back in the day, about two months ago, I told you how I really liked the ON Cloudracer but I couldn’t exactly explain why. The first few runs in them were cosi cosi, but it wasn’t like I was going to start booking reservations at fancy restaurants for them or hanging around the massage oil isles or anything, you know? They grew on me, and not like anything that made me start to look in the drawers for that expired penicillin bottle from college just in case, they just started to feel really, really good. And so I was a little sad when they finally had to be shelved. But I was sold. I liked the way they fit my foot—clean and close—and I liked the way they felt underfoot—fast, yet protective. And I loved the utilitarian, Euro-minimal aesthetics. The one thing I’d change is the weight. Not that they’re clunkers, but I wouldn’t mind them going an ounce or two lighter.
So then I got hooked up with a pair of the Cloudsurfer. The Cloudsurfer are the ON daily trainer, the performance trainer I guess. They, too, look really swank and Euro, with almost no overlays and certainly without anything going on that isn’t necessary. They’ve also got bigger and more compliant cushioning elements underfoot—the Cloudtec pods—and provide a much, much softer landing if you’re landing rear foot. ON’s pitch is that their shoes give you a soft landing and firm take off. That sounds good to me, and that’s what I’ve experienced so far with these bad girls. So, no lie.
And so this is all going to seem a bit strange, because this isn’t usually what turns me on, shoe-wise anyway, and I don’t want to sound like some old fogey, which I most certainly almost am, but when I wear the Cloudsurfer on my evening strolls through the ‘57, the next morning my feet don’t hurt. I know. Old fucker.
Here’s what I mean. If I run after, say, 4pm, almost invariably—no matter how short or long or fast or slow or on road or trail—my feet hurt when I wake up in the morning. Not really hurt, but more like just sore. Stiff. Achy. Like you stood all day at a music festival or whatever. I don’t know exactly why, they just do. Maybe because after the evening run, my day starts to wind down—kids, homework, dinner, bath, stories, bed. I’m not really moving around much and maybe shit starts to tighten up and then I’m in bed and, bam! I got the concert feet.
But when I wear the Cloudsurfer, I don’t get the concert foot. I know. I don’t know either. So I’m going to keep wearing them, because I’m too young for that shit.
The fit is gloriously snug. But you might need to size down. They do go a bit long, so to get the right amount of snug you might need to double check the size. And they’re not snug like racing flat snug, but snug like lightly-swaddled-snug. I think that helps to offset the extra ounce or two you carry when you’ve got them on. Like the other ON models, the Cloudsurfer run a couple ounces heavier than comparable trainers. But because they fit so clean and because the ride is overall surprisingly responsive, you feel that you’re wearing something lighter than they really are.
I’m generally drawn to running shoes that are pretty lightweight, which the Cloudsurfer aren’t, but which I forgive because they don’t feel clunky. Heel to toe is super smooth. Super smooth. And I also tend to dig shoes that give me a good sense of ground feel, probably because I’m a klutz and I want to know where I am. I’ve been tripped by stray air and wayward leaves3. But these Cloudsurfer make you pretty immune to the ground. You feel protected for sure. The Cloud elements in the forefoot are really responsive, so you get a good, solid fast feel, but you don’t really feel the exact surface underneath.
The idea behind the Clouds is that they are designed to absorb shock on the vertical and on the horizontal. I don’t even know what that means. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. Sure I can see how that might be legit in a lab, but I’m generally pretty skeptical about, well, everything. If indeed that’s all true, maybe that’s what keeps me from getting concert foot in the mornings. I don’t know. So maybe these are my Coachella shoes.4
When I wear them for an easy yog around the Brentcrest grid, they kinda baby my feet, which was at first a kinda weird and took me a little while to get familiar with. I’m further back toward my heels and the ride is plush and forgiving. And when I run a bit quicker, and I’m a little farther forward on my foot, the shoe feels all together solid and fast and doesn’t get in the way. They’ve got surprisingly good pop to them then. And that’s a good thing. That’s probably also the new Speedboard in action. ON added the Speedboard to the Cloudsurfer for the updated model, so you’ll want to note which model you get, 2013 v. 2014. The Speedboard is a plastic grid that ON have added to the midsole this year, and which acts to distribute shock and to help with forward propulsion. It helps to give the shoe pop and it might be the best part of the shoe, if you’re into technologies and shit.
There was a run a week ago, when I was climbing a good hill, maybe about a kilometer5 long or so, pushing a bit, and there was a very audible click, a pop, when I was landing on my forefoot. So that was weird.
These could be the shoes that help me to broaden my horizons, to open my eyes a bit. There isn’t anything about them that make me want to take off my clothes and run down the street or anything6, but they just work, and I’m cool with that. And again, I find myself wearing them more often than not, which has to account for something.
How crazy is it that I like a shoe that isn’t all that lightweight, doesn’t have great ground feel, and has a bit of plush to it? What the fuck is in this tea?
2I think I might have joined a cult. Please send help.
4Fuck that shit. You kids with your music. And your noise. And your little pants.
5One mile, in Canadian
6Unless you want to. Then I’m totally down.