I’ve had my share of falls and road rash, usually as a result of me not paying complete attention to the road or to my fellow riders. In other words, just being plain stupid.
I don’t count those as bike injuries. They’re simply dumb-me accidents, which happened to occur while cycling.
To me, true cycling injuries happen because I’m riding–not falling. I wish I could say these problems were rare. They’re not. And they occur even when I’m doing everything right. For example, as short as I am, it’s difficult to find a bike frame that fits. But in 2002 when Torelli offered a deal on its Gran Sasso line of bikes, I found one that matched my slight stature perfectly. Or, so I thought.
Within the first 100 miles my lower back was killing me. Michael Wolfe, my mechanic and owner of South Salem Cycleworks, suggested a handlebar neck extender. I was doubtful because my back howled in despair each time I rode my new bike. Then, on the third try, I rode pain free that day and every one since with the new extender.
Pain free in my back, that is. Other parts of my body have suffered from cycling.
Once, I was three-quarters through an 80-mile ride that took me into the Cascade foothills. Cruising comfortably on an easy downhill, my right knee suddenly felt a twinge, then quickly throbbed with pain. A slight tear from fatigue in the meniscus, as it turns out.
As some of you undoubtedly know, a mangled meniscus can hurt. I rode the rest of the way home that day using my left leg alone or standing up to pedal, which hurt less than when I was sitting and pedaling. This time there was no cure by swapping out some bike parts. Rest was the only way to heal my knee.
Right now I’m suffering from a toe injury. My right bike shoe is too loose and the foot is banging around inside it, resulting in trauma to my big toe. I may lose the toenail.
Better fitting shoes might be the answer, you’d think. But the reason I have these shoes a half size too large is that a few years ago I was plagued with searing pain in my right foot, which was diagnosed as coming from too much pressure on the metatarsal. My doctor prescribed looser cycling shoes
I can’t win.
Some weeks ago, I was criticized (somewhat correctly, I think) by some for my essay “Fun,” wherein I chastised riders for taking their cycling far too seriously. Go slow, I said. Take a look around. Enjoy the ride. Critics here, on Reddit, and elsewhere suggested that maybe some of the fun from riding had to do with the pain and anguish that came with each ride.
I don’t necessarily disagree. But the pain and anguish I am having right now is no fun at all.
Copyright 2011 Mark Everett Hall