Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now

It’s inevitable that my mileage ramps up dramatically this time of year. Surely it’s the mild spring weather that draws me out and onto the bike more than is absolutely necessary; I mean, who’s going to take a joyride when it’s 40°F and pouring rain?

Afterall, as much as I love bicycles and bicycling, it’s mostly about staying out of the car and reducing my footprint (you know, the other kind).

Most people track their mileage for training purposes (or bragging rights) and what they’re shooting for is a high number. In my case, I have to keep an eye out to avoid riding too much. Last year at this time, an overuse injury kept me off the the bike for most of the summer, so I’ve been hyper-diligent to work in appropriate rest days and put a reasonable cap on my weekly mileage.

On those days when I take a break, I don’t just jump back in the car; mostly I just end up doing more walking. Interestingly, I’ve found that I can be sore and tired from riding, but I can continue to walk with no ill effects (as long as I’m wearing good shoes). If I was an athlete, I suppose this would be considered “cross-training”.

I used to get quite irritated when my body told me to take a break from the bike (as a matter of fact, I used to ignore the signals, hence the injuries). Now, I’m just glad I can continue to walk while giving my knees a break from riding for a day or two. Afterall, as much as I love bicycles and bicycling, it’s mostly about staying out of the car and reducing my footprint (you know, the other kind).

10 Responses to “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now”

  • Ryan says:

    Good post Alan.

    I have been participating in MayisBikeMonth.com for the sac area. I was able to hit my 500 mile mark and I am starting to notice a bit of tenseness in the hamstrings and some slight pain in the knees coming on, so today I took a break from the bike as it is necessary to do so every now and again. What do you consider a “reasonable cap” for your weekly mileage? I still haven’t personally figured this out. I guess I have been riding a lot more just because my new infatuation with the Big Dummy I purchased just over a month ago. I guess I can say more than 100 commute miles a week and I start to realize I should be stretching more before rides. It is just so hard to not want to hop on the bike with all the good weather.

    Safe Riding…

    -Ryan

  • andy parmentier says:

    i go from a unicycle to a bmx to a pair of walking sticks. bought some pedal extenders (q factor) but they were the wrong size. at least i have oversized pedals. unicycling is hard on my knees if i ride too much.
    i’m between ‘bents (i consider the recumbent riding position to be very strengthening to the knees cuz it uses one of the biggest muscle groups in the body-the glutes-and those muscles support the knees.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I don’t have a specific mileage limit, I just pay close attention to my knees and make sure I take at least one day a week off the bike. Daily stretching is key for me; last year when I had so much trouble with my knee it was a structured stretching routine that did the most good.

    Take care-
    Alan

  • beth h says:

    Excellent post.

    People with auto-immune conditions (like Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s disease or MS) by necessity grow extremely good at listening to the body for signs of fatigue or stress. Fatigue comes earlier and more often with an auto-immune condition so the body speaks more insistently in those cases. For everyone else it takes a little longer to learn to listen, but it’s worth the effort and could save your muscles and joints from serious injury due to overuse.

    Stretching IS helpful (and really, I ought to do it daily but haven’t yet found my groove to establish the routine quite that often), but sometimes just plan old boring REST helps, too. It’s a beautiful day at the end of a week of a LOT of riding, and you’ve got a couple of free hours: grab a good book, spread out the chaise lounge under a tree, and get those legs horizontal.

    I am amazed at the number of people who are afraid that this kind of rest — even scheduled — will cause them to lose fitness. Breaking down muscle requires time — and rest — to rebuild stronger.

  • John Lascurettes says:

    I’ll trade your 40°F and raining for 88°F and no shade any day. Then again, I did move from California to Portland and commute year round. But man, I just had to run an errand mid-day today in the heat and it sucked. I much prefer the ride when it’s cooler.

  • Len says:

    I love riding in the rain. One of my most memorable joyrides is a 50 mile ride through 40°F rain in Seattle. It was a light rain when I left the house, headed north to Woodinville, then Duvall, Carnation, and Fall City before looping back. I don’t know if it was the ride or the pecan pie at Sandy’s Espresso, but it was a great day. I live in Georgia now and I have never had a better pecan pie than I had that day in Carnation.

  • Justin says:

    Hello Alan,

    My friend Ryan (above with Big Dummy) told me that I should inform as many people (bicyclists and bicyclist advocates) as possible in the Sacramento Area that my bike was STOLEN yesterday. This way maybe by some small chance I get lucky and someone will see it or see it being sold. My bike is a 2008 NOVARA RANDONEE touring bike (57cm): http://www.buzzillions.com/image.dox?R=478206&wide=false … looks just like this one in the picture except I changed my pedals to Shimano clipless (M520), added 2 water bottle holders and my lock holder might still be attached (though it serves no purpose now). It was stolen right in front of my friends house in Sacramento off of 2nd Avenue near Stockton Blvd. I had it locked, but bolt cutters went right through the cable and my lock was left dangling for me. Any help would be very much appreciated. My number is 530-570-8478.

    Sincerely,
    Justin

  • Sharper says:

    Justin,

    I’ve often heard that stolen bikes quite often show up at Bike Builders on Franklin Blvd and at the bicycle shop around the corner from the antique store on J at 24th — it might not hurt to take a look, particularly if you remember your serial number.

  • Alan says:

    Hi Justin,

    Along with what Sharper suggested, I’d keep an eye on Craigslist. I’ll keep an eye out and let you know if I find anything. In the meantime, you might check with your insurance agent to see if the bike is covered under either your homeowner’s or renter’s policy.

    Alan

  • Jeff Vincent says:

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