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TRIA Orthopaedic Center Your Cycling Blog
We’ve see the unfortunate news: Lance wrecked his way out of the Vuelta a Castilla y León.
Even though he’s a professional, this is a very common injury amongst all cyclists. From racers to weekend warriors, we’ve all seen, heard, or felt the pain that a broken collarbone brings forth. As athletes, injuries are commonplace, but when our upper body is restricted, how soon can we be back on the road?
Helge Riepenhof, a doctor for Team Columbia-Highroad who has studied injuries in cyclists, said a broken collarbone was the second-most-common injury in the peloton. Skin lesions top the list.
He said riders often hung onto the handlebars during a crash, in hopes of staying upright, and ended up falling on their shoulders. The collarbones break because they are the weakest bone in the shoulder area, he said.
Dr. Jonathon Braman provided us with additional insight on these pesky injuries:
Broken collarbones or “clavicles” are a frequent result of falls, especially involving cycling. Most breaks can be managed without needing surgery, by placing the arm in a sling for a period of time then gradually getting the strength and motion back over time.
Sometimes, however, they do not heal in a sling. This can be especially troubling for cyclists as the collarbone absorbs much of the stress during long rides.
One reason why some breaks don’t heal is if during the first part of healing, too much motion occurs. This can cause the broken bone to fail to grow back together.
New studies looking at how people do after breaking their collarbones has shown that some broken collarbones should be operated on at the start. As a result, it is best to see a shoulder surgeon with any broken collarbone.
At its best, cycling is a social activity. Sure, you can go out there and grind along by yourself. More often than not (e.g. commuting, training), that’s what makes the most sense. Seasoned riders know from experience that cycling is the most satisfying when you’re riding with a group of like-minded roadies.
The easiest way to find these rides is to join a club. Most clubs host group rides and many are open to non-members. But finding the right club and the right ride can be hit or miss. Some of these rides are really mock races, blowing stop signs and dropping newbies (and even regulars) like a bad habit. Other rides use bicycles as a means for getting from one Dairy Queen to the next.
So, how do you find the club (and ride) that’s right for you?
Ask around at bike shops. Unlike McDonald’s (where the workers are in it for the glory), people who work at bike shops are almost always passionate cyclists. No one bike shop will know every club and every ride, so ask around at a few. Tell them what kind of rides you’re looking for and you’ll likely get some great suggestions. And maybe buy some Sports Beans or something, so you aren’t just begging for free advice.
If the clubs publicize their rides as open to non-members, you can just show up. If they don’t, you can contact the club and ask. Introduce yourself when the group gathers and ask if it’s an open ride. Even if you already know that it is, asking is an ice breaker.
And then see how it goes. If it’s a great fit, join the club. If it isn’t, try a different one. Once you join a club, be active. Do their rides and participate in their functions. The club is your gateway into the cycling subculture.
Does this sound familiar?
Your group ride started out at an easy pace. Pretty soon, one of the stronger riders makes his way to the front and picks the pace up. Your little ego demon says “he’s not faster than me,” so you follow suit. So does everyone else. The dance continues until a stop sign or red light kills the momentum. Pretty soon, everyone’s heart rate is pegged out, white knuckles threatening to bend the handlebars and you’re left coughing up little bits of your lungs.
What does everyone says in the parking lot before the ride starts?
“Easy ride today?”
This group delusion was followed by “I’m toast from yesterday’s century”, “I haven’t been on by bike in a week”, “Today’s a recovery day” or “I’m tapering.” From Jump Street, the complaints are indicative of strong legs. No one ever laments about having fresh legs before a ride.
What would have happened if one person (just one) had said “Hey, dude, back ‘er down. This is an easy day” when that first knucklehead started the speed demonry? Everyone would have given a deep sigh of relief, because they needed an easy day. Rarely do groups have big enough egos to stray from impressing new riders. Asking to have an easy day is seen as a sign of weakness. The group think is usually “ride alone if you want to ride easy.” Hardly.
Easy rides are an essential part of training. You can only ride really hard on hard days if you’re rested. If you ride hard on days that are supposed to be easy, all you’ll manage on the hard days is to ride a little (but not much) harder.
If you want to be fast, keep your easy days really easy so that you can make your hard days really hard.
And what do you do if the dude that amps it up doesn’t slow down when asked? Before the ride starts, agree that anyone who amps it up will be ignored. Then, when Mr. Macho picks up the pace, tell everyone “let him go.”
The fool will ride up the road alone.
Confusing wintry mix aside, it seems that it’s that time of year. We’ve acclimated to Daylight Savings Time, we’ve seen that (at least here in Minnesota) 40-degree temperatures are a reality, and there’s even a chance we’ll toss our windproof bib tights aside for good this weekend, leaving us only with leg warmers and the like. Thank goodness Punxsutawney Phil graced us with this pleasant “spring.”
Forthcoming seasons aside, we’re going to need more than proper clothing to hoist our bikes off the trainer and bring them into the wild. Sean Peotter, of On Support, has tipped us off to the true art of the pre-ride safety check. He might know a thing or two about it…he sits on the planning commission for neutral support for the Nature Valley Grand Prix. Let’s take a look at what Sean thinks we all should do to ensure smiles during the miles:
Pre-Ride Safety Check
By Sean Peotter – OnSupport Neutral Service
One of the most overlooked things that should be a part of every ride is a pre-ride safety check. This check shouldn’t take long, but it will help ensure that your ride is a safe and enjoyable one.
First things first, you should first check to see if your tires are properly inflated. All tire manufacturers will print the recommended inflation range on the sidewall any tire. If you stay within this range, your tires should be in good shape. While checking the recommended tire pressure, you should also check the condition of your tires for cracks, tears, as well as any loose glass or debris embedded anywhere. Be sure the skewer that holds the wheel to the frame is secure as well.
Another very important item to look at is the braking system. Look at the cables to make certain they are intact with no kinks or frays. Give the brake lever a good firm squeeze to verify the cable fixing bolt is tight. Next, take a look at the gap between the brake pad and rim. Not only do you want to make sure the brakes are not rubbing on the rim, but you should also check the alignment of the pad. You don’t want the pad to come in contact with the tire or the dreaded friction flat tire will appear shortly thereafter.
Washing your bike after every ride is not always possible, though you should give it a thorough wash at least once a month. Not only does this make your bike look great, it also gives you the opportunity to look more closely at the frame. Cracks in frames can be extremely hard to see, especially if your frame is a dirty one. While you clean your bike, look at all the nooks and crannies for any signs of failure. If you notice anything, take your bicycle to a local shop for further analysis.
These checks should take no longer than a few minutes but this is in no way a substitute for a tune-up. It is always recommended to have your bike tuned-up once a year by a professional mechanic that will look at your bike more closely.
As cyclists, we’re ever-fearful of numerous “worst-case scenarios.” The possibilities are endless, but if we take precautionary measures in order to combat them, we are making ourselves (and the roads) that much safer. Stephen McCarthy, of Gear & Training, keyed us in to the finer points of purchasing the best investment for a cyclist: the proper helmet.
Getting a New Helmet for 2009
The purchase of a bike helmet has three main parts, each compounding on one another to make this new addition protect your noggin to the nth degree.
Consider the following:
The type of materials used to make the helmet and number of vents:
Remember, the lighter the helmet, the more expensive. A general rule of thumb is the more vents, the more air flowing through the helmet, the cooler it will be.
The manufacturer of the helmet:
While you might ask why that makes a difference, the reason is each manufacturer fits a different type of head. Some are round, some are deep, some are oval, some are for racing, mountain biking, or recreational.
Look for proper certification:
I know…we’re picking out a helmet, not a personal trainer. Still, helmets should adhere to specific certifications, so that when you really need it, it will accomplish the mission: protect your head.
Didn’t find everything you were looking for? More information can be found at the Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute.