So early in my road bike days, about two years into cycling, I had a saddle problem. The saddle that came with my Trek 5200 (used, 1999) was too wide. I didn’t know what was causing my pain, but I attributed it to running first. It was only after a week off the bike and a return to it that I felt the pain in my hamstrings that had faded into the background. I went straight to the bike shop after that ride and described my problem. I was measured and promptly fitted with a new saddle that was 12 mm thinner. That was the only “overuse” injury of note in a decade of cycling.
That problem with saddle width taught me early on how important the bike’s set up was to cycling regularly, without injury. I worked on becoming exceptionally knowledgeable about my numbers; saddle height, fore/aft position of the saddle, level of the saddle, distance from the tip of the saddle to the center of the handlebar… I had a pro fitting done on my Venge and transferred the numbers over to my Trek. Then there was the cleat positioning. Rather than simply put them on in a neutral position and hope for the best, I had them professionally dialed in. Then I tinkered and dabbled and took years perfecting the set-up on my bikes.
That work paid off. I can ride anywhere from 200 to 400 miles a week and at an excellent pace (17-mph for slow days, and up to 23-mph on the fast days) without having to worry about over-use problems (joints, bones, musculature, etc.). I do have to watch the saddle sores, of course, but other than that I ride trouble-free.
With running, it seemed I’d have to nurse at least one injury a year back to health. With cycling and impeccable attention to detail when it comes to setting the equipment up, I’ve been fast, sleek, and injury-free.
I wouldn’t want to pull the “old man” card, not yet at least, but I have to be honest at the same time… I’m no spring chicken and I quite enjoy being able to stay fit and healthy throughout the season without having to worry about what I’ll injure next.
Ride hard, my friends. Especially if you’re having to battle frequent running injuries. With the right set up on the bike, you’ll go as far and as fast as you want to. Well, within reason.