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Up, Up, and Away: Conquering the Hills of the Gran Fondo and Elsewhere

May 17, 2012

One of the best things about the Menomonie Gran Fondo is the chance to ride the same course that the pros ride later that day, but this is also the biggest challenge as well.

USA Cycling coach Fiona Lockhart provides a few tips to help you conquer the hills that will break up the race later in the day.

by Fiona Lockhart, USA Cycling Coach

www.FionaLockhart.com

One of the most common questions I get from cyclists is “Why is riding up hills so hard for me?”  My standard response, which I stole from my colleague and mentor Dean Golich is “Because gravity is a law.”  What I mean by this is that by virtue of the laws of physics, hills are hard for everyone.  Of course, we know that some people seem to scamper up hills pretty easily, while we are grinding away in our granny gear, breathing too hard while seemingly going nowhere fast.   I guarantee you that those mountain goat riders who make the hill climbing look simple are actually working pretty hard too, but they likely have some tricks and tools up their sleeves that help make their work just a little more manageable.   Adopting some of these yourself may help you manage those climbs just a little bit faster and more efficiently.

Lighten Your Load

It’s no secret that it takes less energy to move a smaller weight up a hill than a larger weight.  So, to make hill climbing easier, losing weight off your body or your bike can definitely be useful.  Even a pound or two can make a difference.  Of course, losing bodyweight is not always the easiest thing in the world (and is too big of a topic to cover here), but if you can finagle a way to lose even a few pounds of bodyweight, you’ll almost certainly notice that on a hill.

The other option is to lose weight from your bike.  If you’re riding an entry-level bike from years ago, it might be worthwhile to think about getting a new bike frame.  Frame technology has come a long way over the years, so you may be able to find a much lighter bike than what you currently have within a fairly decent price range.  Of course, you can spend many thousands of dollars on a tricked-out carbon fiber frame that you can hold up with one finger, but you don’t need to do that to get a light bike.  If you don’t want to change out your frame, investing in lighter wheels can make a huge difference as well.  It may be worth a trip into your local bike shop just to see what they have available and what your options are.

One of the easiest things you can do on a given bike ride to keep the weight down is to just mind what you are bringing with you.  Of course, you need to have the things you need to get you through the ride (water and food, tools to fix a flat or other mechanical, and weather-appropriate clothing options), but try to plan ahead so that you have everything you need and nothing more.  If you are loading up a backpack or saddle bag with a bunch of extra stuff that you probably don’t need, know that there will be a price to pay for those things on the hills.

Gears Matter

If you know that much of your riding will be done in the hills, or you have an important cycling event you want to complete that is very hilly, you’ll want to make sure that you have the appropriate gearing for that task.  There is a “standard” crankset, which consists of a 53-tooth and 39-tooth chainring for your front gears (the ones by your pedals).  However, for most people, having either a compact crankset or a triple crankset is enormously helpful in improving one’s ability to get up hills in the most efficient manner.   A compact crankset usually consists of a 50-tooth and 34-tooth chainring. These smaller gears give you the ability to keep a little bit higher cadence on the hills and are easier to pedal with on hills.  A triple crankset consists of 3 different gear options in the front, with something like a 53-tooth, a 39-tooth, and a 30-tooth chainring.   This will give you a lot of gear options for climbing different size hills.

Another option for you is to make sure you have some larger cogs on your rear cassette (that’s the gear system on your rear wheel).  For example, if your largest cog is a 23-tooth, you could get a cassette with a 27- or 29-tooth cog, which translates into easier gear options.

There’s this strange thing that I sometimes hear from riders, that it’s somehow “uncool” to ride anything less than a standard crankset.  To me, that’s just silly.  What seems more uncool is to ride gears that are inappropriate for a particular course or person – I mean, if there are tools available to us to help us ride more comfortably and efficiently (which then usually also transfers into “faster”), why wouldn’t we use them?  Options are cool.

To be continued as Fiona covers efficient use of gearing, pacing and the benefits of a fit attitude…

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Equal Opportunity for All

May 14, 2012

The Nature Valley Grand Prix has always been a strong supporter of women’s cycling, but we thought it might be nice to share an outsider’s perspective of our race and its impact on women’s cycling.

Since she has been involved with the Nature Valley Grand Prix almost from the beginning, we asked Giana Roberge–former director of Saturn Professional Cycling team, World Champion time trialist, inductee in the International Cycling Hall of Fame, and passionate voice for women’s cycling–to share her thoughts.
When I first heard about Nature Valley Grand Prix, I was the director for the Saturn Cycling Team. A very nice voice at the end of the phone line, introducing himself as Dave LaPorte, pleaded with me to send some of the Saturn women who were not participating in the HP Women’s Challenge to a new race in MN. He offered what a lot of promoters were not at the time: housing, help with travel, prize money, and equal promotion of the women’s teams to that of the men’s. I was intrigued.  I had three women I could send and in June they traveled in MN to participate in what was to become one of the top women’s races in the country.

That was 2001. Saturn won both the men’s race with Frank McCormack and the women’s race with Suzanne Sonye. The Saturn women returned with good reports of the race.  It was mostly criterium style racing but the crowds were enthusiastic and the community was very supportive of the idea of a big race in the community. Saturn received some very useful press from attending the event; all in all it was a homerun: my sponsors and athletes were happy with the event. In my mind it was an early success.

Two weeks later Dave called me for feedback.  I was taken aback.  A promoter taking the time to ask me what he could do better?  He wanted my commitment to send a full squad the following year.  At the time I asked him to move the race so it wouldn’t sit over the HP race.  I asked him to support the teams with free entries, travel, gas, meals, and housing.  With smaller team budgets, a race offering assistance to the teams rather than prize money would help to get riders to MN.  I wanted a competitive field for my team to race in.  What I wanted from Dave was the same treatment we received when we traveled to Europe for a UCI World Cup or Tour.  Make it as financially feasible as possible for as many teams as possible to travel to MN and the competition would be then be world class.  It would take time, and over time, it has.

Later that same fall, the cycling community received the sad news that HP would not renew their contract for the HP Women’s Challenge.  Again my phone rang with Dave asking me how he could make his race the new June destination for women bike racers. I wanted to work with this promoter, as I also wanted to grow women’s cycling. His eagerness to grow the women’s side of the race was new to me.  I sent him a wish list of what my sponsors would like from a race, what my riders would want and what I wanted as a Director.  Some of these ideas included a women’s summit, an outreach program to women in the community, travel assistance, an easy housing support system, lots of media support, challenging courses, and a venue which allowed our sponsors to interact with the crowds in the Midwest.  It was a lot to ask.

It took a few months but Dave was relentless in his pursuit of growing the race.  His sponsors rose to the challenge and the following year Nature Valley Grand Prix became the destination for women bike racers in the month of June.  Over the years Dave and his amazing staff have worked tirelessly to ensure women bike racers have extraordinary courses to test themselves, sponsors have tangible returns to utilize, and team management has a tremendous support system to make the race accessible to every team and every rider – not just the ones with the big budgets.

Over the years, some of the greatest women athletes in world have tested themselves at Nature Valley Grand Prix. Some of the “greats” include Kristin Armstrong, Ina Teutenberg, Petra Rossner, Georgina Bronzini, Lyne Bessette, Christin Thornburn, Katie Mactier and Amber Neben.

But the bigger story is that of the women who are not household cycling names but those who are the foot soldiers of women’s cycling.  It is the story of these women that needs to be told when talking about the Nature Valley Grand Prix.  These are-the women who work 40 hours a week in “normal jobs” who carve out time from their families and their jobs to train and race, and who hold women like Kristin Armstrong in awe.  These women have stood at the line with Olympians, World Champions, World Cup and Tour winners, they have tested themselves on the same courses, side by side with the women who have worked to create our cycling history. Nature Valley Grand Prix is also about these women, who have had the opportunity to race with the best of the best for several days; an opportunity not to be had here in the US without Dave LaPorte and Nature Valley.  To hear the crowds in the Twin Cities screaming for the winners, to see your team’s jersey on a baseball card, to be able to be on the radio, TV or the newspaper is available to ALL women who participate at the Nature Valley Grand Prix – not just the “Queens” of the sport.  It is truly an equal opportunity for all.

Nature Valley Grand Prix has supported all facets of women’s cycling: athletes, sponsors, and management.  I will look to the 2012 edition of Nature Valley Grand Prix to indicate who some of the next great women in cycling will be, as well as a point in history when women and men racers are treated equally.  At the 2012 Nature Valley Grand Prix every woman will have an opportunity to experience what is like to be treated as the Champion bike racer she is.

Giana Roberge
http://TeamSpeedQueen.com

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Training Tips for the Menomonie Gran Fondo: Part 2

May 10, 2012

By Jonas Carney, Performance Director
Optum Pro Cycling Team

Nutrition

There is nothing more difficult than running out of energy halfway through a long ride, or even worse, cramping up due to dehydration! As the Menomonie Gran Fondo and Spectator Rides approach, your nutrition becomes the critical component for a successful and enjoyable day. A few days prior to the ride you should start hydrating. Drink water frequently, cut back or eliminate caffeine and alcohol, and add carbohydrates to your diet. Practice proper nutrition habits for each training ride leading up to the event to be sure you are eating and hydrating properly.

On the day of the Gran Fondo, eat a light breakfast of high-carbohydrate foods and drink lots of water. During the ride drink before you’re thirsty. The rule of thumb should be one water bottle (20 ounces) per hour on the bike especially if it is warm weather. Water or a sports drink should be your first choice. Carry two bottles and alternate your consumption throughout the ride. Eat easily digestible, carbohydrate rich-food such as energy bars, bagels, fruit or granola bars. Don’t try something new on the ride; eat things you know agree with you. Remember, practice makes perfect so do several test rides before the Gran Fondo.

Attitude

In a large group ride, it’s only natural to feel a sense of competitiveness in our veins. Don’t let the adrenaline take over your ride! Ease into the ride pace. The Menomonie Gran Fondo isn’t a race and if it’s your first long ride, the goal is to finish comfortably and enjoy the experience. Stay positive and attentive to others around you. Safety should be at the front of your mind during the day. Here are some more tips for an enjoyable ride:

• Change your position on the bike frequently. Move your hand position, get off the saddle, stretch your arms, shoulders, neck, and calves, and arch your back. Avoid staying in one position too long.

• Take short rest breaks off the bike. The Menomonie Gran Fondo includes both water and food stops. Take advantage of this time to get off the bike, refill your water bottles, stretch, and use the restroom. Keep these stops to 10 minutes or less or you may risk getting stiff from lactate build up in your muscles.

• Find a companion or two who ride at a pace similar to yours. The ride will go faster and feel easier with a friend or two who you can chat with and provide mutual support. Also, skilled riders can take advantage of drafting and save some energy in the wind. On windy days, take turns leading into the wind with your fellow riders to conserve energy.

Attitude is everything. If you have prepared yourself well, you can sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenery around Menomonie and Dunn County (and maybe plan your next big ride). In my next entry, I’ll cover Gran Fondo day-of-ride preparation.

Get out and ride!

Jonas Carney
Performance Director

Optum Pro Cycling Team

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Training Tips for the Menomonie Gran Fondo & Spectator Rides

May 3, 2012

By Jonas Carney, Performance Director
Optum Pro Cycling Team

A milestone in the life of any avid cyclist is riding in a major event like the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival’s Gran Fondo rides in Menomonie, WI, June 16. While riding 65 or 85 miles in a day may sound extreme to a non-cyclist, you can do it too! Almost any novice cyclist can complete a Gran Fondo ride if they follow a consistent training routine. The key is to start your program early to give your body a chance to respond to the training plan and not wait until the last minute to train. If you are not up to the challenge of a “Big Ride” this year, give yourself a chance to succeed on your own terms by participating in the shorter distance Menomonie Spectator Rides, which are 32 or 15 miles in length!

There are 4 key success factors to have a fun and rewarding Gran Fondo experience:

• The right equipment
• The right training
• The right food
• The right attitude

Equipment
The right equipment means comfort and functionality. Your bike should fit you well and you should be familiar with it. If you aren’t sure about fit, have your local bike professional provide a fit-assessment. A visit to the local bike shop will also identify any mechanical issues with your bike. Don’t plan to ride a new or a borrowed bike on your first Gran Fondo ride. Consider having a tune-up before the ride, and carry a spare tube and patch kit, tools, a pump and knowledge of how to use them. Other essential equipment includes:

• A helmet that fits appropriately (must be worn to be effective)
• Water bottles and cages
• Energy drink and snacks for the ride
• Cycling clothing, including shoes, shorts, gloves and rain gear
• Sunglasses and sunscreen

Training
The core of your training should be endurance training. If you start your training at least 12 weeks before the ride, you will have ample time to prepare for the Gran Fondo. If you already ride more than five hours a week, you will need far less time to prepare. While most of your rides will be at about 65% of your maximum heart rate (MHR), add two days of interval training, where you push hard for several minutes – up to 85% MHR. Hills are a great way to add interval training to your ride. And don’t forget to allow one day per week for recovery. If you can only ride four to five days a week, don’t do your rest days consecutively. A sample training schedule may look like this:

• Saturday: 1-2 hour ride with 30 minutes of hard effort
• Sunday: 1-2 hour ride at steady pace (65% MHR)
• Monday: Rest
• Tuesday: 1-1.5 hour ride with hills
• Wednesday: Rest or 1-hour easy recovery ride
• Thursday: 1-1.5 hours with interval training
• Friday: Rest or 30-minute easy recovery ride

More Training Tips
• Maintain a cadence of 80 to 100 revolutions per minute
• Increase your mileage as you get closer to the Gran Fondo, no more than 10% at a time.
• Ride with friends, family or your local club to increase your level of comfort riding in larger group.
• Plan a 50- or 60-mile ride at least two weeks before the century to gauge your fitness
• Taper your mileage a week before the century. During that week you may even reduce your riding to one or two days of an easy five to 10-mile spin. Also, try to get plenty of sleep.

In the next blog, I’ll cover Nutrition and Attitude as you approach the day of the Gran Fondo rides. So, stay tuned!

Get out and ride!
Jonas Carney
Performance Director

Optum Pro Cycling Team

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Nature Valley Grand Prix On Versus Sunday

June 29, 2011

Minneapolis – The daily excitement and thrilling conclusion to this year’s Nature Valley Grand Prix will be chronicled on Sunday, July 3, at 2 p.m. EDT/11 a.m. PDT on Versus, immediately following the network’s rebroadcast of Tour de France Stage 2.

The 13th annual edition of the top event on USA Cycling’s National Racing Calendar featured a surprising outcome to a women’s race that included reigning world road champion Giorgia Bronzini, Olympic time trial champion and four-time Nature Valley Grand Prix winner Kristin Armstrong and past world time trial champion Amber Neben.

“Even for fans who attended the races in person or followed the live streams on the internet, this program is a chance to put all of the pieces together,” Nature Valley Grand Prix Executive Director David LaPorte said. “For everyone else, this is an opportunity for them to see some of the best professional cycling in the United States showcased in a half-hour broadcast.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix is part of the Nature Valley Bicycle Festival, a 10-day celebration of bicycling that includes amateur and professional racing and community events. The Festival is a volunteer-run event with all profits donated to the pediatric hospice at Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota. For more information, visit www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

About Nature Valley
Nature Valley, the brand that created the granola bar category in 1975, brings variety to healthy, active consumers looking for wholesome and great-tasting snacks. Headquartered in Minneapolis, Nature Valley is part of General Mills, a leading global manufacturer and marketer of consumer foods products. For more information, visit www.NatureValley.com.

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UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team Sweeps Podium

June 16, 2011

By Lyne Lamoureux, Nature Valley Grand Prix
St. Paul, Minn. – The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team controlled Wednesday’s Stage 2 St. Paul Downtown Criterium from start to finish and topped it off with a sweep of the podium.

After a perfect leadout from his teammates that included yellow jersey owner Rory Sutherland, Jake Keough took the win, Hilton Clarke placed second and Robert Förster was third.

“I think we’ve proven tonight that we’re one unit, whether it’s off the bike or on the course.” Keough said after his win. “The team is one unit, we do everything together. The dedication from the whole team is perfect. Each one of those guys is a specialist in what they do throughout the whole race to perfection.”

After rain fell earlier in the evening, welcomed glimpses of blue sky could be seen for the men’s race in the entertainment district of Downtown Saint Paul on a flat, fast, six-corner course that featured brick sections around Rice Park and some of the most beautiful architecture in the Midwest.

Only three laps into the 40-lap race, Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly presented by Kenda) and Carlos Alzate Escobar (Team Exergy) escaped the fast-moving peloton. One lap later, two more riders, Alex Candelario (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) and Tyler Wren (Jamis/Sutter Home) joined to form a breakaway. The complete UnitedHealthcare team assumed position at the front of the field, with Jonny Clarke and Adrian Hegyvary keeping the pace high.

Lap after lap, it remained the same, with Keough’s teammates always in control, holding the gap at a very manageable 20 seconds. Cooperation was not perfect in the break, but the four stayed mostly together for 31 laps of the 1.4-kilometer course. During this time, Alzate took top points in the intermediate sprint competition while Van Ulden, Wren and Candelario contested the intermediate time bonus.

With seven laps to go, the BISSELL Pro Cycling Team swarmed the UnitedHealthcare train to take over the front and the already fast pace was revved up even further, dooming the breakaway.

Keough took it in stride. “I just kind of called the guys to be really calm and to wait until the other guys burned their matches so we could go back around them,” he said. “We’re getting well drilled at this. We’ve been putting it to some good effect. Each one of the guys did a perfect effort at the end.”

One lap later, the blue train was back at the front while the sprinters jockeyed for position behind. The battle was on for controlling the front of the pack with the inevitable bunch sprint finish rapidly approaching. Every lap the speed ramped up until Sutherland took over with one lap to go.

“He’s a vital part of our leadout as well,” Clarke said about having the yellow jersey pull at the front. “Adrian worked all day and he was second overall and Rory is leading the race but he’s helping us win the stage. We’re all helping each other all tour. The roles are reversed each day and we work as a team.”

Then it became a matter of executing the peel-off as practiced successfully in many previous races.

“The order we’ve been putting into the leadout train for the past few weeks has been Frosi (Förster), Hilton and then me and it’s been working,” Keough said. “We’ve been going 1-2-3 and we’re just going to try to keep doing it.”

The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team finished 1-2-3 in Wednesday's St. Paul Downtown Criterium. Winner Jake Keough (far right) acknowledges his teammates at the finish line. (Matthew Moses)

Finishing fourth on the stage, Alzate took over the Wheaties FUEL Sprint jersey, while Van Ulden was awarded the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Chad Haga (Team Rio Grande) will wear the green jersey as the Nature Valley Top Amateur and Joey Rosskopf (Team Type 1-Development), the white jersey for the TRIA Orthopaedic Center Best Young Rider.

After two stages, Sutherland remains in the lead with nine seconds on Hegyvary and Tom Zirbel (Jamis/Sutter Home). The defending champion also holds the Sports Beans King of the Hills jersey.

Thursday brings the Cannon Falls Road Race. The 67-mile course through gently rolling, but wide open farmlands, finishes with six laps on a circuit that includes a short, steep climb to the line. Even a gentle wind can tear the pack apart.

Keough says his team is ready to defend the yellow jersey. “I think tonight was a lot of bullets used so we need to make sure we’re conservative and make sure we have the legs but the guys proved that they’re strong and we’re going to keep it up.”

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World Champion Bronzini Wins Stage; Armstrong Stays in Yellow

strong>By Cynthia Lou, Nature Valley Grand Prix
St. Paul, Minn. – World road champion Giorgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D’Asolo presented by Cooking Light) won Wednesday night’s rainy and crash-filled St. Paul Downtown Criterium in an exciting sprint finish, while Olympic time trial champion Kristin Armstrong (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12) retained the Nature Valley Grand Prix overall lead.

Shelley Olds (Diadora-Pasta Zara-Manhattan) and Chloe Hoskings (HTC-Highroad) rounded out the Stage 2 podium in second and third, respectively.

As the women warmed up, the weather quickly turned from sunny and warm to windy and rainy, leaving them to make last minute adjustments to tire pressures. Tension built as knowing glances were passed between teammates while the national anthem played and the officials made their final announcements.

Fortunately the rain subsided about 15 minutes into the race, and the second half of the hour-long race unfolded under clear skies. The road started to dry, but not before several crashes happened, including one that took down about 30 riders.

There was fierce competition for the time bonuses, the first which happened with 23 laps to go. Hosking, Lauren Tamayo (Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12), and Amanda Miller (HTC-Highroad) soaked up the first round of bonuses earning five seconds, three seconds and one second, respectively.

With 20 laps to go, a break formed that included riders Miller, Tamayo, Olds, and Leah Kirchmann and Joelle Numainville (Colavita Forno D’Asolo). Their lead ticked up to a 14-second gap and lasted 10 of the 28 total laps.

As the break started to absorb time bonuses and stretch its lead, it became clear to the Peanut Butter & Co. TWENTY12 squad that it had to start reeling it back in.

“There was a break that got off that we weren’t excited about,” explained Armstrong. “With the conditions, it was single-file all night long. It was really difficult for our team to get together and chase down another team. That was frustrating. There was a point when I came up to help my teammates to finish and close the gap. After that, we just made sure there wasn’t another attack that went off and stayed off. The energy we expended to close that break was not something we wanted to do twice. People are out to race against us. We have three of the top five, and it makes for hard racing.”

With the peloton together for the final laps, teams began setting up their sprinters.

“There was a pretty solid lead out from TIBCO, so I made my way up to their train and just tried to hold position in the last lap,” Olds said. “In the last turn, Theresa Clif-Ryan (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) jumped, and I jumped to cover it. But Bronzini was on my wheel and she came around me. It’s difficult when you have two really fast sprinters from the same team.”

“I was in front of the first position, behind my teammate,” Bronzini said. “I was in third position at the corner, and gave my best sprint today.” Bronzini said she felt confident she could win as long as she came out of the final corner no farther than three riders back.

Georgia Bronzini (Colavita Forno D'Asolo presented by Cooking Light) celebrates her victory in the St. Paul Downtown Criterium, Stage 2 of the Nature Valley Grand Prix. (Matthew Moses)

“Tonight was one of the hardest crits I’ve done in years,” Armstrong said. “People were on fire. I know that there’s been past years that have been tough, but I think the depth of this field is the best I’ve seen at Nature Valley.”

Olds, who has raced a full schedule this season in Europe, agreed: “The field this year is incredibly strong. I think, much stronger, with a lot of numbers for each team.”

The Nature Valley Grand Prix has seen a lot of growth in recent years, from stronger fields to increasing opportunities for growth and visibility of new and upcoming riders.

Jade Wilcoxson is one such rider, having been selected through the Nature Valley Grand Prix Pro Ride – a series of qualifying races across the country.

“Just having a team director and a team mechanic and having all those details taken care of has been incredible,” Wilcoxson said. “Then racing with this caliber of women – this was a hard crate.” The Talent, Ore., resident will wear the Nature Valley Top Amateur jersey for Thursday’s road race at Cannon Falls.

Other jersey wearers include Olds in the Freewheel Bike Most Aggressive Rider jersey, Leah Kirchmann (Colavita Forno D’Asolo) in the Wheaties FUEL Sprinter jersey, and her teammate, Rushlee Buchanon, in the Tria Orthopaedic Best Young Rider jersey. Though Armstrong leads the Sports Beans Queen of the Hills jersey competition, Evelyn Stevens (HTP-Highroad) will wear the jersey for Cannon Falls.

Looking forward to Thursday’s first road stage in rural east central Minnesota, Armstrong noted, “We’ll have to see what the weather does, because sometimes it’s really windy. Again, we ride as a team, we ride as a unit. The technicality of tonight was hard to get the team together, but tomorrow the roads are wide, but the finishing circuits are tough. They always are. They’re technical and tough. We’ll have to stay safe and use the same tactics as tonight and work as a team.”

The women’s race in Cannon Falls starts at 5:30 p.m. Watch the race in person or streaming online at http://www.naturevalleybicyclefestival.com.

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Ride WITH the Pros at the Menomonie Gran Fondo

June 3, 2011

Just announced!!

 Team Radioshack rider and wearer of the Giro d’Italia’s white jersey Bjorn Selander, along with Kelly Benefits Strategies-Optum Health Pro Cycling riders Dan Holloway, Tom Soladay, and Colton Barrett will be riding the Menomonie Gran Fondo.

Sign up today for your chance to ride with these pro riders while supporting Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

https://www.sportsbaseonline.com/events/index.xhtml?categoryId=45369

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Ask the TRIA Orthopedic Surgeon: Hot Spots During Cycling

May 27, 2011

As cyclists begin to head outdoors for longer rides, some start to feel pain in their foot, a phenomenon known as “Hot Foot.” Today, Dr. Heather Thoerner, CAQ and Medical Director for the Nature Valley Grand Prix, addresses issues related to foot pain in cyclists.

Hot spots are an uncomfortable challenge that many cyclists encounter as their journeys increase in length and time during the warmer months. With Hot Foot, the rider will begin to feel an uncomfortable burning sensation, often in the ball of the foot. Despite the common thought that this comes from actual heat, ‘Hot foot’ is actually a condition known as ‘metatarsalgia.’ Metatarsals are the long bones of the feet, and ‘algia’ means painful – hence metatars-algia. In cyclists, metatarsalgia occurs when all of the riders body weight is focused on too small an area of the foot overlying the pedal.

Below are the main issues that should be addressed to alleviate or prevent hot foot.

    Bike fit:

proper bike fit and positioning on the bike can be addressed by your local shop or physical therapist. Bike fit has implications for all joints and points of the body.

    Shoe type:

the type of shoe you choose can also help to alleviate hot foot. Start with a stiffer soled cycling shoe with an adequately wide toe box. Carbon fiber, although the most expensive, creates the stiffest platform so that the pressure during a pedal stroke can be distributed throughout the foot, rather just onto the ball of the foot where the pedal sits.

    Pedal type:

a slightly larger platform pedal can also be helpful in distributing the stress.

    Pedal position:

moving the cleat slightly further back on the shoe may help to take the pressure off of the hot spot, but be cautious with these changes as they will change the overall position and alignment of the rider, which may contribute to other joint pain.

    Shims:

shims put between the cleat and the shoe can help to put certain riders into a more anatomic alignment. Again, seek expert advice when altering the foot position.

    Shoe inserts:

the most helpful way to off-load the metatarsals and alleviate Hot Foot is to cushion the area behind the ball of the foot and off-load the pressure point on the metatarsal. This can be accomplished by either a customized shoe insert or by metatarsal padding.

    Orthotics:

many different brands of semi-custom orthotic inserts can be purchased. These inserts can be bought at many local bicycle shops, outdoor sporting shops, and doctors and physical therapy offices. Again, the goal is to have more support behind the ball of the foot. This will be different from the typical insert that a runner (with heel-strike issues) would want.

    Metatarsal padding or buttons:

over the counter padding can be found at most drug stores. Use the adhesive tape to place the button just behind the ball of the foot.

Whichever method or combination of methods you use to help you alleviate your pain, remember, the goal to alleviate pain is to distribute pressure evenly throughout the foot.

To contact TRIA sports medicine physiciasns, visit http://www.tria.com/Default.aspx.

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TRIA Doctors Answer Your Cycling Questions

May 14, 2011

Knee pain is a common occurence this time of year. As the miles ramp up with the weather warming up, the tendency is to “over-do” the base mile training. Today, Dr. Anne Moore, CAQ, a sports medicine physician specializing in musculoskeletal primary care, assesses the solutions to cycling knee pain:

Knee pain which occurs with biking is often due to mechanical symptoms, involving both the bike itself and the biker. Proper bike fitting is critical in order to ensure the best alignment and limited load stress at the knee joint. Weakness through the core/pelvifemoral region can result in pain in the patellofemoral joint, tendons about the patella, or iliotibial band. While adequate training is necessary, physical therapy can be helpful to address musculoskeletal/biomechanical deficits. Although knee bracing can be helpful in the short run, physical therapy is more effective at fixing problems on a long term basis.

To contact TRIA sports medicine physicians, visit http://www.tria.com/Default.aspx.

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