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Cycling Every Day; How Much Time Off Is Necessary? Not Much (If I Do It Right).

A friend of mine, on our 22-mph avg group ride, said that he’d been noticing on Strava that I’m riding every day without a break. He added that we older folk need our days off, that here I was riding 100 miles Saturday, 52 Sunday, another 52 Monday (over the 4th of July weekend), then playing tennis with my daughter in the afternoon… and I made it out for the Tuesday Night In Lennon ride.

Now, he wasn’t wrong. My legs were a little smoked by the time I was hitting with my daughter Monday night. In fact, I had to refrain from going after several balls to keep from wrecking my legs enough I’d have to skip Tuesday night.

Then, a week after, my family and I went on a two-week vacation during which I only rode twice. While we were exceedingly active over our vacation (hours of swimming daily, hikes, stair climbing, etc.), coming back to cycling was interesting. My first day back, we rolled into town at 9:30 pm and we were shoes on, ready to roll at 8 the following morning, I did a 19.2-mph 100-mile ride with several friends. I felt like Frankie Fresh Legs. I had a blast the whole ride, all the way home – including a decent sprint at the end for the final City Limits sign. I was tired, but I was in great shape considering.

Monday evening I rode easy. Tuesday night was hard (and I felt like I was constantly ready to bonk). Wednesday was easy… and that’s when the saddle sores started. Thursday hurt, but I rode easy anyway. Friday was a little faster but more painful. I started fighting the sores with Cortizone 10 cream. I was feeling it in the legs, too. Saturday, the sores started to subside and the ride was fairly quick at just a hair under 20-mph for the average. Then, Sunday morning rolled around. My legs were pretty shot but we had the A-100k pre-ride. We pounded the 65-miles out at a 19.9-mph average, we were at 19.2 for the full 75 (I rode with a couple friends out and back from our houses). And I was out riding again Monday – 22 miles and we didn’t crack 17 for the average (16.8).

One saddle sore in particular was screaming by this point. It was hard to find a comfortable place on the saddle, but I managed. Now, at this point it’s important to interject, riding on screaming saddle sores without proper treatment is a risky proposition I’ll save for another post. Let’s just say they can lead to surgery if one is not careful. I switched to Aquaphor and I was riding comfortably two days later.

I haven’t missed a day since I got back from vacation and just in my second week back turned in my fastest ride of the summer (30 miles at 23.2-mph, with friends) this past Tuesday.

The first key for me is to take it absolutely as easy as I can stand on easy days so I’ve got my legs for when things get hectic (fast).

The second is to manage the saddle sores that invariably pop up when I go from hardly riding to 250 miles a week. Things get ugly in a hurry. I’ve ignored them in the past, but there are two problems with that strategy. 1) They freaking hurt. 2) They can turn into a serious problem that could lead to surgery if they’re ignored long enough. No, either Cortizone 10 or Aquaphor are much faster and less painful options.

Some people believe they lose fitness after taking a couple of weeks off (I have a friend who thinks you lose 3% a day if you take time off) and I can see why – it’s a lot easier to keep the train rolling than it is to start it back up. However, after two weeks with only two easy rides, I was able to come back with a vengeance and knock out 100 miles at better than a 19-mph average. If I’d have lost anything, that would have been impossible.

Ride hard, my friends.

God Help Us, The Block Editor is Here. And It’s Going to Be Okay… The Classic Block Will Save We Writers…

Okay, now we’ve hated the block editor for a long time, we WordPress writers.  The coding kids love the block editor but for those of us who just write, it was a nightmare. After a mountain of complaints, WordPress allowed for the option to continue use of the standard editor we were used to, and relief.  All was right with the world. Then, panic.  I, for one of thousands, just about freaked when I received notice that WordPress was going to end the classic editor for good and switch to the block editor.

I wrote a very angry post about it.  It was one of my better received posts.  Many of my writer friends were in the same predicament.

Well, that day has come, but I’m not all doom and gloom here at Fit Recovery. The designers at WordPress didn’t throw us to the wolves. They’ve given us the classic block and it works almost exactly like the old classic editor.

At the top of the screen on the left, the first time you use the block editor, click the “+” sign. Then search for the “classic” block and add it. Then, whenever you write a post, after you type in the title, or if you start writing and come up with the title later, simply hit the “+” in the body and choose “classic”.

You’ll be able to write your post just like you always did. You won’t have to worry about blocks or justification or anything else. Just write. “Shift+Enter” for single space, “Enter” for double space, and all of the old shortcuts and the editing tools will pop up after you’ve stopped typing and you move your cursor.

I was mortified that my classic editor was gone. Now I’m quite okay. They didn’t roll the bus over us.

TNLR: Popped Edition (Too Hot In the Hot Tub! O-o-o-o-w-w-w!)

So I can’t call it the Tuesday Night Club Ride this summer because, technically, it’s not a club ride. Because C-19.

That didn’t stop a fair contingent from rolling out last night. It was under current guidelines, by a lot, but we’ve never hit 100 cyclists on the best Tuesday night (maybe 60 or 70?). I’d say we had 30 roll out in unfairly hot and windy conditions. 90° and sunny with a 15-20-mph wind out of the west.

I did the full 7-mile warm-up with Dave. Even at 15-mph into that wind sucked but was bearable. At 24, it was going to suck.

We rolled out together for the first couple of miles directly into the wind but fractured into two main groups with stragglers everywhere as soon as we hit the crosswind. We had five guys in an echelon followed by a line of ten on the edge of the road.

I was fine at that point, but with no real draft, I figured it was only a matter of time.

We had a decent pace heading south (crosswind) when two of the A guys took it from 20-mph to 25 and I lost my patience.  I had a pretty good idea what was going to happen when we hit the hills so rather than work on a resentment, I bailed.  I was also having saddle issues that exacerbated the heat of the evening.  I want so bad for that Selle Italia carbon saddle to work but I just can’t help knowing I’d be having a more enjoyable ride on my old Specialized Romin.  On the one hand, there are huge pluses with the Selle Italia – the oversize cutout is fantastic for keeping things happy after the ride.  During the ride, though, it’s awesome at first but as I get tired and put more of my weight on the saddle, “awesome” breaks down in a hurry.  Then I try to stand on the pedals to get the weight off my heinie and my feet start hurting…

With my saddle giving me fits, the ride back was a little on the miserable side.  I was well and truly popped.  I just put my head down and did my best to hammer it back to the car.

After moderating my attitude, I mentioned something to the guy who was up front about trying a little harder to maintain the pace.  He’s in a bit of a pickle.  He’s a true A rider, but he just can’t hack the heat.  He reacts differently than most to it in that he simply can’t acclimatize.  On the other hand, he gets up front every now and again and he jacks the pace up so we end up with a lot of see-sawing.

And the nice little cherry on top is that I was only a few minutes from popping anyway.

At least dinner was good.  Back at it for next week.

 

The Noob’s Guide to Road Cycling Saddles; The Fat, Bad and the Ugly. Seven Reasons Your Saddle Hurts to Ride On

How Can A Good Cycling Saddle Feel So Bad?

If you think a minimally padded $400 bicycle saddle looks more like a torture device than a bicycle saddle, and I’m speaking from experience, that says more about you than the saddle.  Contrary to popular belief, manufacturers won’t charge more for a saddle than most people will pay for a complete bike, whilst trying make a torture device out of it.  Even those super tiny, ultra-thin, almost no padding saddles are meant to be comfortable.  If yours isn’t, the problem is likely the setup, not the saddle (although there is room for the saddle being at fault – or more to the point, you picked the wrong one – but we’ll get to that in a minute).  Let’s begin.

Saddle is too high.  The easiest, by far, reason your saddle will feel like it has barbed wire embedded in what little padding there is that you’ve got the saddle too high.  This means your hips will have to rock to stay connected to the pedals on the downstroke, where you’re weakest anyway.  Put your bike on an indoor trainer and put your heels on the pedals.  Spin them backwards.  Your legs should straighten without rocking your hips.  This can be done, carefully, in a doorway by bracing yourself with one or both hands on the jamb(s).

Saddle is too far forward or back – so you end up riding on the wrong part of your butt.  If you are riding with most of the pressure on the area between your genitals and your sphincter, well, you’ve got problems.  The rubbing/hurting kind of problems.  You want to be riding on your sit bones, as the saddle starts to widen out – not on the very back of the saddle and definitely not on the nose (though there is precedent for scooting up a little bit when time trialing).  If you look at the profile of a contoured saddle, you’re looking for the area that just starts to rise toward the middle/back of the saddle to cradle you… your sit bones should be just to the back side of that rise.  In road cycling, you’re looking for position 2 or 3:

Level is off.  This one is simple.  For me, for the style of riding I’m used to, I’m a position 2 up above, but the profile photo of the saddle, as it is in the photo, would be a little too “nose down” for me.  Not much, but a little.  The key is that you don’t want the nose to dig into you, but you don’t want to feel like you’re sliding to the front of the saddle, either.  The key is to find the happy spot right in the middle.  This can take some saddle time and several adjustments to perfect.

Wrong kind of saddle for a rider’s flexibility.  If you’ve got the wrong saddle for your flexibility, you’ll likely have huge problems trying to get comfortable on the saddle.  I prefer a contoured saddle because I’m not very flexible – I’m actually in the middle range.  A contoured saddle will help a less than bendy human’s torso to rotate forward slightly to aid in an aggressive posture on the bike.  Those who bend at the hips well won’t need that help and will be fore comfortable on a flat saddle.  Fizik has a really neat app that’ll help you understand your place in the contour food chain.  There’s also this:

bontrager-biodynamic-saddle-posture-profile

Too wide. Folks, I’ll make this very simple.  If you’re on a saddle that’s too wide for your sit bones, the pain – and I’m speaking from experience again – will be immense.  Increasing as your mileage and time in the saddle will only increase the intensity and severity.  Left long enough and this pain will radiate down the legs into the hamstrings.  It is quite excruciating.  If you have a question about the saddle size you should be riding, this is a perfect issue to get sorted at the local bike shop (I’m about 140 mm… I can fit on a 143 but I like 138 a little more for the slimmer saddle nose).  They’ll have you sit on a board with memory foam on it which will leave indentations from your sit bones.  They’ll measure the distance between the indentations and come up with your saddle width.  Women tend to be a little wider than men, for obvious reasons.  I think Mrs. Bgddy rides a 155.

Too much padding.  I have a friend who rides a cruiser around town.  He’s got one of those big, fat, ugly padded saddles.  Over the top of it, he’s got one of those shag padded seat covers.  Over the top of that, he’s got a gel cover.  And he asked me if I though he could add another cover.  I’m not kidding.  He had so much padding on that saddle, I think it actually cut off the supply of blood to his brain whilst riding.  Padding on the saddle cuts off blood to areas that really, really need blood.  When that blood flow is cut off, the affected area hurts.  It’s the body’s way of telling you, hey, somethin’ ain’t right down here!  I’ll tell you what ain’t right.  It’s all that padding.  Additional padding is not the answer, though a reasonable amount is a good thing, this can easily be overdone.  The answer is a good pair of cycling shorts and the proper setup of the right saddle for your body.

Finally, and this one will be surprising (it was for me – and I just figured this out a short while back), if your saddle is too low.  That’s right, too low.  I was trying out one of those aforementioned $400 saddles and I had a nagging pain, like the edge of the saddle was digging into my left hip bone.  I’d set the fore and aft properly (through a series of measurements), set the level properly (2 degrees nose down, then fit to feel for that cradled balance described above), and I thought I’d set the height properly.  After my second ride and the saddle just not feeling right, I checked the height.  Sure enough, it was about two millimeters low.  I raised the saddle and the pain went the way of the dodo, immediately.  The clouds parted and the sun shone (and the wind died down) and all was well.

My friends, good saddles are a dime a dozen if you know what you’re looking for and how to set one up on your bike so it feels like it should.  Don’t settle for feeling like you’re riding on barbed wire after 20 miles (once you’ve got your requisite saddle time in – new cyclists will experience some pain while they acquire their cycling legs).  The answer is fixing the saddle’s position, width, or height, not adding another layer of padding.

Wrist Pain and Road Bike Cockpit Setup; Gravel Is Fun To Ride On… Not Much Fun in Your Wrist

In a post last week, I wrote about a wrist problem I was having. I figured it might be related to the new handlebar install I did on my Trek. My wrist was a lot worse than I let on in my post.

So, the problem was in the way I installed the hoods on the handlebar, but going by looks, it shouldn’t have been a problem. We install the hoods so they follow the line of the handlebar:

Originally, I started having trouble shaving with my right hand. I’d get to a couple of key places and my wrist would lock, causing a shooting pain up my arm. My palm hurt like hell for about a half-hour after. If I gripped my razor wrong, causing the handle to rest in my palm, the pain was intense.

Before long, the tendons in my wrist were catching so much it felt like I had gravel in my wrist. This started back in November, but I didn’t miss a day on the bike and didn’t think much of it until mid-December. I thought I might be experiencing the start of carpal tunnel syndrome.

We went on vacation over Christmas, for a week and a half. I hoped, if it was bike related, the time off the bike would help. It didn’t get better. Shaving sucked, and I was resigning myself to get in to see a doctor when I got home.

On a fluke, I tried to roll my hand forward at the wrist. Make like you’re going to shake someone’s hand, then drop your fingers to the floor, bending at the wrist. The pain was hot, intense, and excruciating.

That’s when I knew it was bike related.

I left my handlebar where it was and raised my hoods, maybe an inch, so I wasn’t rolling my wrists forward so much.

Three weeks later and I just shaved pain free for the first time since this whole mess started. It was bike related, I’m not getting CTS, now that I’ve fixed my hoods… just a little too aggressive.

I just adorned the Trek with new bar tape, too, so she’s feeling good and looking snazzy:

It’s hard to tell from that angle, but the hoods were raised quite a bit.

Point is, as much as I know about setting a bike up, I still managed to hurt myself. On the bright side, I also knew enough to fix what I screwed up in the first place… so it’s not all bad.

What Every Cyclist Needs to Know About Saddles; It’s Not the Padding, It’s the Contour of the Saddle

Cycling in the United States is on the rise.  From what I’ve been reading, we’re talking epic proportions, only this time the word “epic” is actually being used correctly.  This is a good thing, and I’m excited about it.

For those new, or contemplating getting into this most excellent sport, many think they know that the only reason enthusiasts ride around on those tiny saddles is because they don’t weigh much, so they’re willing to put up with the pain over a hundred miles at a time because they’re crazy.  Or something.  The cycling noob is certain that the answer is to just add more padding to make the ride more comfortable.

There’s not one part of that notion that’s correct.  It’s all wrong.

Yes, the saddles enthusiasts ride on are light, but they are anything but painful.  If those vastly over-padded monstrosities were really comfortable, we’d be riding on the lightest, smallest version of them.  Those tiny saddles are actually more comfortable that their bulbous brethren when covering big miles and long hours.

Those are the road saddles I have on my two road bikes.  Two different brands, but almost the exact contour.  The contour matches the rider’s flexibility and desired riding posture on the bike.  Bontrager/Trek has a very nice system for this, and their saddles, while not the lightest, are exceptionally comfortable.

bontrager-biodynamic-saddle-posture-profilebontrager-biodynamic-saddle-posture-curvature

I am a Posture 2 guy.  Not quite a pro posture, because I’m almost 50 for God’s sake, but close enough for government work.

I’m a Specialized guy when I’m not on my Trek, though.  The original saddle that came on my Trek was too wide for my sit bones, so the local bike shop set me up with a Specialized Romin saddle, because they had one in stock and it matched my sit bones (143 mm) and my aggressive riding style.  From that day forward, all saddles I’ve ridden on have been compared to that saddle.  I have one on my Specialized Venge and one on my tandem.  I bought the Bontrager Montrose (above) because it matched the profile of my Romin.

Another company that does a good job of making different saddles for different riders is Fi’zi:k (don’t mind the silly spelling, they’re excellent saddles – I have several friends who swear by them):

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I don’t know about their flat and wide for the two more flexible postures, but I don’t ride their saddles so I can’t comment intelligently on their system.  I do have two flat Selle Italia saddles and I can’t ride on either of them, no matter how hard I try to dial them in… and one is the lightest saddle I’ve ever owned.  It’s retail price is $420 and it’s a full carbon fiber model (a friend gave it to me).  Therefore, if there were any truth to the notion that people like me would put up with pain to have a light saddle, guess what?  It’s simply not true.  You can bet I tried, though!

To wrap up the road saddles, comfort is all about fit (location on the bike – up/down/front/back) and contour.  Highly flexible people can handle a flat saddle.  I’m not one.  Also, as you can see in the photos above, I don’t ride on a lot of padding because it’s unnecessary once you know how to dial in the proper location.  For those who don’t know, the people at your local bike shop should be able to help, or check out some of my previous articles on subject on this page.

There are times when a little more padding can be helpful.  Gravel bikes and adventure bikes are a fantastic example.  I have two mountain bikes and a gravel bike and I’d choose the gravel bike over the mountain bikes any day of the week and twice on Sunday, and I love my mountain bikes!  For my gravel bike, because I’ll hit a bump on a dirt road fairly often, I like just a little more padding on that saddle:

Same contour, a little more padding.  And because I have the bike setup right, that saddle is excellent on all but the nastiest of roads.  Now, part of the comfort of the bike has to do with tire choice, but that’s for another post.

1000x1000_584ebfcfa41ee

My butt hurts just looking at that photo!  Now, let’s deal with those round, fluffy saddles for just a minute.  There’s no doubt, a big butt will require a bigger saddle, but that big fella above would take a mighty big heinie!  The large saddles tend to restrict blood flow where blood really needs to flow, and that’s why they hurt so much after an extended period in the saddle.  When a bulbous saddle hurts, a new cyclist naturally thinks more padding is necessary, so they go for one of those saddle covers, which cuts off more blood, thus making the ride even less comfortable.  Usually by this time, arms are thrown in the air and the bike starts collecting dust in the garage.  It’s not the bike that’s giving you fits, it’s that big saddle.  Unless you’re content on a cruiser (leisure bike), broom that big saddle and have a fitting performed at your local shop.  A few weeks of decent mileage later and you’re but will start feeling better.

Also, if you’re going to try those tiny saddles that we’re so fond of, click here to learn how to pick your shorts.  You’ll need a few pair of them.

With Decades of Sobriety and Active Recovery Under One’s Belt, Why Continue to Go to Meetings?

I know I need at least one meeting a week.  I need to be connected to the program, in some meaningful way, in order for me to keep my head on straight.  I accept that as it is, there’s no sense trying to fight or change it.  It’s just not worth the risk.

At a meeting yesterday friend of mine, whose got 18 years now and who my wife and I drove to a meeting once a week for a year-and-a-half until he got his license back, said, “I know I need one meeting a week, but I go to five because I don’t know which one it is.”

I went to three last week, which is rare for me.  Surprisingly, last week was a bit of a tough one for me.  In terms of a “rough life”, it doesn’t even register on the scale, but when you’re used to gentle rollers, you still feel the downhill – it’s just not enough to make you queasy.  Without those meetings, my drive to work this morning would have been a whole lot less grateful.  I’m thinking I might do three more again this week, just to see if I did it right last week.

So why do I still need meetings after 9,930 days without a drink or drug?

The way I see it today, my life of recovery is best lived in contact with other people in recovery.  When I’m helping others to stay on the path, when I’m an active part of the recovery fellowship, a friendly association, good things happen.  My gratitude for being on the right side of the grass increases.  My enthusiasm to be a better me increases.  I’m able to take life’s little problems in stride.  I’m able to forgive freely.

And most important, the more active I am in the community the easier it is to see the path in front of me so I don’t go crashing off into the woods.

One of the meetings I went to last week, I hadn’t been to in more than 17 years.  To see many of the same people, older and happier, and a lot of new faces as well, and to be welcomed back as an old friend… it’s good times and noodle salad, folks.  It’s as good as it gets.

There’s a line in the Big Book that states, “We are not a glum lot”.  Too often, newcomers think they’re giving something up by going to meetings and living a life of recovery.  For those who stick around long enough for the miracle, they quickly find that we indeed are anything but glum.  We continue to go to meetings because it’s the best fun there is (with clothes on) once we put the plug in the jug.

A roomful of old-timers laughing and yukking it up about their old exploits and troubles can be a little disconcerting to a newcomer to the group.  It can be hard to handle people laughing about emotions and nerves that are still raw or exposed.  Fear not.  Keep coming back and before you know it you’ll be relieved of the pain of your past, if you work for it, and you’ll be laughing too… and showing others how you did it – and more important, why.

And then you too will understand why we keep going to meetings.

Advanced Road Bike Setup; Getting the Shift Lever Hoods Right Can Save Serious Pain Down the Road

A couple of months ago I put a new aero drop bar on my Trek. It is fantastic on that my old 5200.  It’s hard to tell it’s a classic (it’s a ’99, so a classic just this year):

Unfortunately, there was just a little too much drop from the saddle nose to the handlebar with the new bar.  I added a 5 mm spacer under the stem to bring the bar up.  When I was done, the reach wasn’t bad, though maybe a touch long, and I could handle the drop a lot better, even with my winter five pounds…. and the bike looked awesome.

Just before Christmas, we flew to Florida to stay with my wife’s sister’s family and I started noticing some problems with my right hand and wrist. It felt like the tendons in my wrist would “catch” every now and again. The associated pain wasn’t a big deal, it was unsettling, though.  I worried it might be the onset of carpel tunnel syndrome.

When we got back, after a week and a half off the bike, I rode on the trainer with regularity and the popping and pain increased.

It took a minute (three weeks…ish) for it to dawn on me, but I finally put the puzzle together and traced it back to the new handlebar installation. Or more succinctly, I narrowed it down to something in the handlebar setup.

After a lot of thought about what to do, I settled on raising the hoods… maybe the angle was off, the way I was reaching for the hoods?

Still on the right plane, but with more rise.  Just riding yesterday was a remarkable improvement in how my wrist feels.

How did I come to the conclusion I did?

I could have done a few things to set this right: A) Lower the handlebar. B) Roll the handlebar back which would naturally raise the hoods. C) Raise the individual shift levers/hoods.

Raising the handlebar by adding spacers below the stem would be exactly the wrong thing to do.  That would increase the forward wrist rotation, exacerbating the problem.  Put your hands in front of you, like you’re holding your hoods, roll your wrist forward… now raise them up two inches.  The right thing to do would be to lower the handlebar.  It might have worked, decreasing the odd angle, but the physics of it just don’t add up; with my slight winter gut in the way.  Ahem.

I could have rolled the handlebar back, bringing the hoods up, but that would have thrown off my position in the drops big time.

The hardest option, moving the shift levers themselves, was the option I chose because that would give me exactly what I needed, even if it was a lot more work contrasted against the other two options (getting the hoods in the right position, level and square to the handlebar drops takes a bit of ingenuity and attention to detail).

What went wrong initially?

In my pursuit of being perfectly stylish, I tried to set the shift levers to perfectly follow the plane created by the drop – as should be (my wife’s old bike in the foreground is all wrong, but the way they did things on sport bikes vs. race bikes twelve years ago).  It looked awesome and aggressive, but even with the decent drop from the saddle to the bar, the long reach meant I had to slightly roll my wrists forward to hold the hoods.  I was putting a lot of pressure on my wrists while they were bent in a way they shouldn’t be bent.  Over time, this aggravated the tendons in my wrist which inflamed them, thus I felt like I had gravel in my wrist.  In fact, just sitting here typing this report up, I tried to mimic that movement, rolling my wrists forward.  Without any weight on my wrists it hurt.  I got a jolt up my right arm and I could feel the pressure in my left (I’m left handed, it would make sense that, being left hand dominant, it would take a little longer for problems to show there).

The conclusion.

The causes of my trouble are many little things rolled up into an ugly ball; cockpit reach (length of the stem in this case), geometry of the bike (I don’t have this problem on my Venge – standard vs. compact frame), choice of handlebar (I didn’t have any troubles with the last handlebar – the rise and reach are different on the new bar) and the location of the hoods on the bar.  All of these things combined make for an ugly problem in my bike’s setup.

Thankfully, I’m picky enough to have caught it before any real damage was done.  I hope.

Is Running Slow Safely Safer than Running Hard After Safely Securing Safe, Yet Expensive, Running Shoes?

If you’re scratching your melon at the Title question, well, it’s not you.

There is nothing I disdain more than presenting an argument that is the exact opposite of the truth, then supporting said argument with false evidence that is spun to make it appear real, to prove a point that isn’t possible in the first place.

President Trump, call the Oval Office. Or the President of Ukraine. Or something.

I read a post a while back that proposed running barefoot or, at the very most with minimalist shoes, was better for one’s feet than running in expensive, padded running shoes, that running in “expensive”, heavily padded shoes causes more injuries. My jaw hit the left-click button on my laptop. Especially with the “barefoot” part. I used to follow the blog of a woman who was trying to run barefoot. She claimed it better connected her to the earth. Well, she wasn’t wrong. Several lacerations and overuse injuries, she’d spent more time nursing injuries than running. It was a horror show. She was persistent, though. I’ll give her that.

This re-jiggering of reality was first presented in Born to Run, where the author tried to claim that shoe companies were cashing in and bilking runners whilst, and at the same time, hurting them because of their overindulgence of padding the foot, which in turn cushioned the blow to the body’s joints and muscles. That allowed people to run faster than they should run, therefore causing injuries. The additional claim was that the padding of said shoe related to the price. The post I read linked to this post.

The minimalist craze was born! And minimalist shoes, with no padding to blunt the shock to the body, came out… and they were the same price, or more that their padded brethren. You couldn’t have made it up. Oh, the Vibrams! The ugliest damned thing ever to be put on a foot… well, that may be a little over the top, but not much.

And then running injuries increased exponentially. Too many runners, new to the minimalist craze, tried to do too much, too fast for their muscles to handle the extra load.

Including this guy.

I tried minimalist running for exactly 1.25 miles. I’d gone less than a mile before pulling the plantaris muscle in my upper calf (just behind the knee). I went another quarter of a mile trying to see if the pain would go away. It didn’t, and a trip to the doctor was in order. Fortunately, I didn’t miss any more time, but you can bet I immediately went back to running with normal running shoes.

See, here’s the real, no BS truth; running with minimalist shoes really is marginally safer, because the shock of running hurts so f***in’ bad, you actually have to change how you run to be able to run more than once a month. This requires one slow way down and build up speed over a series of months, or even a year because the muscle groups fire different for front foot striking.

The horse-pucky in the study, however, arrives when you count the break-in period. The number of running injuries during that time, if one makes just a simple mistake in foot fall, are through the roof – and the report in question even says this is the case, it just pretties up the language to lull the reader to sleep and then tosses the baby out with the bathwater, as they say.

In other words, something stinks – and it ain’t high-priced running shoes.

This leads us to the most important lesson, however. Having been a runner myself, now fully enmeshed in cycling, because it’s way more awesome; buy a bike. You won’t have to worry about who’s fleecing you and why. EVERYTHING is expensive in cycling… and as long as you don’t get squished by a car, taken out by a friend, or a deer, or a charging pitbull, or a runaway squirrel, or struck by lightening… Um… well, it’s usually much better on your body.

PS. That’s the same look on my face when I pass a runner with that wrinkled up expression of pain and suffering stretched across their face. It’s saying, “I feel your pain, my friend… but only as a memory.”

Road Cycling and Saddle Height; Down to the Last Millimeter

I’ve been struggling, a happy struggle mind you, with the saddle on my Trek 5200. Specifically, the height of said saddle on said 5200.  The fore/aft location is darn-near set in stone, as I prefer my kneecap to line up with the pedal spindle per the normal setup of a road bike.

First, that Montrose Pro carbon saddle is one fine saddle and some the best money I’ve spent on that bike went to that saddle. It’s got the perfect blend of lightweight, flexibility, and padding for a long distance saddle. I can even wear my thinner chamois bibs for 70+ mile rides on it – bibs I once only wore for 25-35 mile rides on inferior saddles.

My biggest issue has been getting the height dialed in so my Trek feels like my Specialized, though.  So, second would be the disclaimer that I’m notoriously picky about saddle height. Obsessive isn’t really a good word, but it comes pretty close to reality.

When I picked the saddle up, I first set it just a touch too high (my measurement is exactly 36-3/8″). I lowered it once because my keister was hurting. Then I lowered it another bit because it still hurt my heinie and by that time, my back was hurting and starting to seize up on me every now and again.  The second lowering did the trick, and that’s where I left it for DALMAC. I rejoiced for the weekend because the saddle felt excellent, with only a minor flareup of baboon @$$.

It wasn’t until I got back and rode the Venge a few days, then took the Trek out once more, that I realized the saddle on the Trek was a little too low. It felt it at the time, but in reality, it wasn’t by much.  It just felt… off.  It felt like I wasn’t getting my full leg extension, that I was working just a little too hard.

Well, Saturday afternoon I raised the saddle up to test my theory, thinking maybe I lowered it too much the last time. I didn’t raise it much, maybe 1-1/2 to 2 millimeters:

With the heightened chance of rain on Sunday, I rode the Trek. At first he saddle height felt right, or better at least.  I was definitely getting full leg extension, and I felt a bit stronger.  40 miles in, I was antsy in the saddle and my back pain started in again.  I knew I’d raised it too much. There was too much pressure on the sit bones. On coming back, I split the difference and lowered it by about half… and nirvana!

I rode with my buddy, Chuck Monday night, picking my lightest pair of bibs, and I could tell instantly, I nailed it.  Finally.

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I almost can’t believe it, the infinitesimal amount I’m talking about, but I’m here to tell you, that millimeter made a difference (actual difference once I lowered the saddle is half the gap shown above between the seat post and the marker line).

So here’s what was messing me up; having the saddle high helps keep your butt up and your head down – it’s aerodynamic.  Having the saddle up also allows for a stronger pedal stroke.  Unfortunately, having the saddle too high also hurts like hell.

Does it help that I’ve got the Venge to contrast what I’m feeling on the 5200?

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*Does it or doesn’t it help to have a phenomenal race bike to contrast my other bikes against?  Look, this is going to be a matter of perspective.  It’s more a blessing than a curse as I see it.  Having the Venge to match the Trek to has made the Trek a significantly better bike.  I never could have gotten it to where it is, as fast as I did, without the Venge.  Mrs. Bgddy might disagree with that assessment as it pertains to cash, though.  Ouch.