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Cycling: Going The Distance

30 Mar 2015
Gary Cairnduff
I remember as a teenager seeing a documentary in the 1980's about the race across America, which is 3000 mi = 4830 km in 9 days or about 537 km/ day. This event started in the heyday of " How far can I push this thing" when triathlon was born and ultramarathoning was just getting going. I was fascinated and revolted, and I couldn't stop watching the story, and it stuck with me.

Paris-Brest-Paris in its current form has been going since 1931 but is only 1200km and not a race - although you have to complete the task in less than 90 hours. This year P-B-P is my personal goal, and so my training distances have gone up. My preparation and discipline have changed as a result. 

Particular attention must be made to those points where the body meets the bike: the hands, the feet, and the backside. Bike set ups vary between cycling disciplines and this will be the topic of subsequent blogs. For this entry we will talk about the first of the important contact points. The bum/bottom/arse/ischial tuberosites are the most important of contact points. Our backsides have to be steady and comfortable so that our legs can turn in the most efficient manner, for as long as possible. They have to take nearly all of our body weight, allowing for steering and bike handling from all of the contact points. Poor seat position amongst other bike fit components, saddle type, clothing type and cycling technique all make an impact on our ability to sit comfortably and contribute to the development of pain in the butt as well as other regions. As distance increases the importance of these things becomes magnified. One small saddle sore becomes a big saddle sore, becomes an abscess and there goes training for weeks at a time.

I can't over emphasise the importance of having a cycle specific musculoskeletal screening and bike set up done by a qualified practitioner, and be disciplined about skin care. During an event it's important to use as good a low friction cream as possible - I do use Premax, and reapply every 5 hours on the road. My advice is that it should also be used on training rides of less that 4 hours to prevent any sores for starting that might then develop into something worse on subsequent rides. Training needs to be consistent: attempting to build distance in a short space of time is a great way to develop skin problems as well as musculoskeletal problems that will inevitably keep you off the bike.

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