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Form & Fitness Q & A
Got a question about fitness, training, recovery from injury or a related subject? Drop us a line at email@example.com. Please include as much information about yourself as possible, including your age, sex, and type of racing or riding. Due to the volume of questions we receive, we regret that we are unable to answer them all.
I am a 23 year old male category 4 racer living in South Carolina. I was riding down a fairly busy street and was in the right most lane that was turning left onto another road. As I went through a light two cars passed me (I was probably going 15-20 mph). As I was accelerating out of the turn, a car up the road slowed to turn and all the cars in front of me stopped.
Unfortunately I could not stop quickly enough and ran into the back of one of the cars that had just passed me. This happened maybe 100 ft after the turn.
I put some pretty good dents in the tailgate of the SUV directly in front of me and ended up with a few scratches and bruises. My real question is who is at fault here? Is it my fault that I could not slow down quickly enough, or, should drivers give cyclists enough room to ride without this type of scenario?
I feel like I was travelling at a reasonable speed to keep up with traffic (20mph), however at that speed I wasn't allowed enough room to come to a complete stop. The driver ended up getting my information and said he might call to discuss repairs.
I just wanted to know what my legal situation was and whether or not I am actually at fault. We also didn't file an incident report if that makes any difference. Thanks for the advice.
Scott Saifer replies:
I have a question for your panel that (unfortunately) must have seen a lot of what is ailing me at the moment, road rash. Yes, I got in a spectacular crash over the weekend and am missing skin in loads of places.
Does anyone have advice on the best method/products to get healed up quickly? I'm just keeping everything moist with Neosporin and waiting it out. At what point should I let everything dry out? I've been showering every morning (OUCH!) and it definitely hurts like you wouldn't believe, but I'm concerned that showering may be increasing chances of infection.
Carrie Cheadle replies:
Last week you responded to a letter from a reader about feeling exhausted. Does this mean that you can go anaerobic at a low HR? One example would be where as you warm up, your HR stays low, but you push hard on a steep climb - you are placing energy demands on your muscles that they can't meet through aerobic metabolism but you are way below your anaerobic threshold in terms of HR. What is the effect of this in terms of depletion of muscle glycogen, production lactate and bicarbonate buffering? Are you burning through more of your "matches" than if you go anaerobic after reaching the top end of energy production when you are at the max of aerobic capacity?
Scott Saifer replies:
I was wondering if Steve Hogg has somebody in Western Australia that supports your cyclefit arrangements. I have only been riding for just two years and I really enjoy a good hard ride. I train with several groups and at this stage I can push myself for a hundred kilometers.
I would like to be able to top out at two hundred per ride. I am 58 years old and retired. Three of my toes on my left foot go numb, the smallest toe as well as the next two, the other two are fine. It is not enough to stop me riding but it is quite annoying.
I have been to a foot podiatrist whom had a pair of inserts manufactured to correct my feet due to me not walking correctly. He said that this should also correct the numb toe situation. I have been wearing the inserts for a month in my Sidi cycle shoes.
As this has never happened before, I can only assume that it is my riding position that is causing this. At this stage of my life I have become really active in a number of sports to keep myself going. I have full fusion of the fourth and fifth lower lumber, also, two years ago due to restricted circulation in my arms I had two 230mm titanium rods inserted in my neck.
I ride five days a week, alternating a weight workout with a body press workout every other week as well as a full program of stretches.
I used to scuba dive six to eight times a week but due to some complications I was advised to stop immediately. I took up riding shortly after that.
I was thinking that cyclefit would maybe correct the issue I am having with my cleat or seat position, could you advise as to what may be causing the problem.
Steve Hogg replies:
I am attempting to get back into road racing for the third time; unfortunately this time is no different from the last. I simply cannot get comfortable on the bike. I'm a category 3 road racer in the USA, 5'11", inseam about 32 inches, shoes size 44, 160 lbs, and fairly flexible.
A bit of history - my first road bike for racing was a Bontrager Road Lite that was roughly a 55 cm top and seat tube (effective, since it had a sloping top tube). This was back in 1998. That bike was the last time I felt "perfect", but it got wrecked in a conflict with an SUV that decided to hit me. All I know about my fit back then was that my tibial tuberosity was roughly 1.5 cm behind the pedal axle of my Shimano SPD pedals.
My right knee always swung pretty far to the inside on every downstroke under hard efforts, but the bottom bracket was pretty wide, so I never hit the top tube. My heels both liked to be pretty far in (toes out), but didn't hit the chainstays (although close).
So, the driver of the SUV cut me a check and I got a Bianchi EV2, 57 cm, Look 247's with the red cleat, Sidi Genius 4's. I was re-fitted by the bike shop, who recalled that I liked to be a bit behind the axle, and we used the fit kit cleat adjustment tool that has two sticks out the side. I raced, was upgraded twice, and did quite well, but my right knee never felt quite right. I always had a twinge on the medial side, above the knee, that I could sometime poke and make it go away for a few pedal strokes.
I once raised the saddle about 5 mm to see if that helped, and it did, and I won the criterium that day, but my hamstrings (adductors?) on the medial side in the back hurt like hell the next day. I lowered the saddle back to where it was.
I gave up racing for a couple of years after a move, and then started again, with the same bike and equipment. I started out easy enough, then perhaps jumped into it a bit too hard and had some knee pain, rested, switched to Speedplay zeros. This all felt pretty decent, but the right knee was still "funny". When I got tired of feeling like I was pedalling on the outside of my feet, I got orthotists which addressed some forefoot varus on both sides, a bit more on the right.
It felt OK, but I was always moving the saddle up/down or forward/backward to try and make the knee issue go away. I had my top of saddle along the seat tube close to 29.5" from BB centre with 172.5 cranks. Later, I sold this bike when we needed the money and racing wasn't a priority over family.
Now I have a new bike (Felt F45, used, 54 cm, with a steeper seat tube). Same Sidi shoes with the orthotics, the cleats in the same position and Look 247's again. I got fitted by the local bike shop since I knew I needed to change some parts. I got a seat post with a bit of setback (Specialized carbon - 25 mm setback) to help make up for the shorter top tube on the 54 cm frame, and a 70 mm stem with rise to make up for the short headtube on the Felt frames. The shop guy watched me pedal and suggested an additional varus shim in my right shoe since my knee wasn't tracking up and down but migrating. He put me essentially in KOPS and my saddle was raised a ton - up to 30.25" from the centre of the bottom bracket, versus my old 29.5". I rode like this for two days and knew it wasn't right. My calves and shins hated it, and my rectus femori on both legs (but mostly the right) were in pain.
I ditched the varus shim and lowered the saddle back to 29.5" and moved it back, almost as far as I could go. It feels better, but the right knee still complains, usually with pain on the medial side - like it hurts between where the tibia and the femur meet as well as behind the knee on the medial side and the upper calf (medial side). My cleats match Steve Hogg's suggestion for being about 9 mm behind the axles, and I can float to either side. But, I get the sense that my right leg wants to go away from the bike more and the toes out more on the right. I can't, since the cleat is all the way to the inside of the shoe, and I would hit the cranks and chainstay if my toes were out more.
With pain on the medial side of the right knee, I assumed that moving out and more toes out is the exact opposite of what is recommended. I can pass Steve's balance test, so I think my setback is pretty good. If I go up more, I get lateral knee pain on the right, and the IT band complains.
Lastly, it feels like my right hip is forward and my left hip is dropping. If I sit on a table top with my knees and lower legs hanging off, my right foot appears to hang lower. I have asked a number of health professionals over the years, and they all swear my legs are about the same length (statically). Chiropractors have never said my hips seem twisted. But my right leg seems less locked when standing and my muscles of my left quad seem much more developed. If I move my left cleat backward in an attempt to square up my hips, things improve, but my left foot then really feels like it is "reaching" and I get pain under the ball of the left foot (under the base of the second toe). I have new Speedplay Zeros at home, but I am waiting for the base extenders (backordered) before I switch pedals.
Does this paint a consistent picture that you can use to give me a recommendation?
Steve Hogg replies:
Ted Scott responds:
1. Most times I walked in a straight line for at least 10 meters. I repeated the test, and on two occasions out of eight, I started slowly turning to the right after about 5 meters. The turn was very slight, since I performed the test in a one meter wide corridor. I never hit the walls and made it across the room. If backed up and allowed to proceed eventually there was some right turn. Does this suggest a shorter right leg? Maybe that is jumping to conclusions...
2. Before I answer this one I wanted to add that I made one modification. I removed one of the two varus shims I had in the right shoe (Specialized grey shims that add 1.5 degrees). This means I have an orthotic that corrects for some varus, plus another 1.5 degree varus shim in each shoe. I would estimate the ortho+shim = 5 degrees on the right and 3 degrees on the left - both varus. As before, my right cleat is all the way inboard, so foot is furthest from BB as possible on the Speedplay Zero (stainless, so longest axle). Why did I do this? I was on a ride and the medial side of my right knee started really acting up - it felt like my MCL was going to give! After I took out the shim the relief was remarkable. I slid my seat back a bit (3 mm) and still have that "feeling" on the medial side, next to the kneecap, but it isn't severe pain. Next day I was not sore at all. This even though the (short) ride was a medium-hard 60 km and included a 4 km hill that averages close to 8% with switchback sections of 20%.
So, the result of 2:
3. Spacing between thighs and seatpost is nearly identical, perhaps a little closer on the right side under hard effort in the saddle.
I have a chiropractor appointment in two days. I will ask about whether or not I have a twist, as well as what is up with my lower right shoulder. It is noticeable now that I am aware of it, even when standing. If I can get x-rays (pretty sure they will), maybe I can convince them to do full body to see if there's anything interesting in my leg length/hip sockets.
The credibility concerns raised by a reader because of the sponsorship of the chocolate milk study by the Dairy and Nutrition Council seems naive to me.
Except for a rare grant from NIH or academic institution, difficult to obtain, who else is going to fund a study other than a source that would benefit financially if the study proves out? My premise is any study is better than no study, as long as we may examine the data for ourselves.
The Dairy and Nutrition Council must have suspected from earlier studies or observations that chocolate milk is better for recovering athletes; therefore they were inclined to spend the money to scientifically prove it.
As Scott Saifer suggests, the data is there for you to examine, and other scientists are welcome to dispute the findings, with contradictory findings a risk to the professional reputation for those that fudge the data.
Pharmaceutical companies suffer similar scepticism when they commission a study of a medicine they manufacture. But if pharmaceutical companies did not fork over the money for such studies, they likely would not be done, and such studies do advance knowledge.
Look at the data, challenge it, but offer thanks also that some party, financially interested or not, has forked over the dough to perform such an expensive study.
Scott Saifer replies:
I am 42 yr old male, a distance weekend-warrior rider, very much into climbing. I bought an old Serotta from a friend and have been riding it this spring and early summer and have done some big rides and climbing days, training for a Tour of the Hilltown's race in the Berkshires.
I set the new bike up almost exactly to the position of my old bike, but ever since I did two tough rides over a weekend a few weeks ago I have been experiencing sharp pain in the front of both knees, especially the right, and especially in climbs.
I've done some research online and it looks like some patellar injury or tendonitis either from bad fitting or from riding too hard early in the season. Do you have any recommendations? Some riders have recommended raising the seatpost 5mm at a time to see if there is a noticeable comfort difference.
Steve Hogg replies:
Steve, I didn't change shoes and the new Serotta has the same style of pedal as my old bike (Look pedals) that I use with cleats; I had a complete fitting and we changed the position of the cleat on the shoe which seems to have helped.
I moved the seat up and forward in very small degrees and this seems to have helped as well. I rode for a week straight from 25-50 miles a day in very hilly terrain in Western Massachusetts and was free of pain.
A week later though when I rode again following the vacation I had the knee pain again followed by major stiffness and difficulty bending the knee (ice and Advil cured this after a couple of hours though after the ride). A week of rest again and two fairly flat rides this weekend and the knees are better. Still trying to figure it out but I am wondering if I should get the right knee looked at since it seems like a wear and tear thing.
Steve Hogg replies: