Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling - Of Pedals, shoes and Knees. Conundrum.
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02-25-08, 08:32 PM
I got back into road cycling last winter.
I bought a decent sport road bike and bought myself my first set of clipless pedals.
After reading this forum in depth, I decided on Eggbeaters and a pair of Specialized Tahoe shoes. However, I did not gradually build up my mileage and rode the 5 Boro Bike Tour (50 miles door-to-door in the cold), then 3 weeks later the Montauk Century. The Montauk ride introduced a new feeling I never felt before. I have an Iliotibial Band...!!!??? And, it seems I now have a syndrome about the thing! Too much too soon is what I've read make the ITBS happen initially.
So it's early in the season now. I'm doing light (100w) half-hours on the trainer preparing for longer distances. Aside for this, could the Tahoe shoe be the problem?
I'd rather change the shoe than everything AND the shoe. See diagram below. My feet are naturally heel-in, generally. The float the eggbeaters offer is nice, but still they feel off my azimuth. I want to heel in a little more. But can't.
I have clamped a Vice Grip to the left Eggbeater cleat and cannot twist it Heal-in anymore. Would a different SPD road shoe offer greater heel-in adjustment for a flat-foot like me? Can I make the eggbeaters work for me with a better shoe alone?
I have an appointment with a Sports physiologist MD early March. But I would like to know what you folks have been through find the right clip-less system.
If I go with another system I would probably go with Speedplay Zero, or maybe Look Zeo Sprint. I'm really hoping I can just get a better shoe, and maybe, spindle extenders.
I would love to hear any advise or anecdotal stories on how you eased your long distance knee issues. I just want to pedal nice scenic 8 hour days.
Thanks for any clues! I want to ride a lot more in 2008.
I had a very similar overuse injury last spring on my first 200k. The longest ride I did before that was about 60 miles with very little climbing, this was 126 miles with over 9,000' of climbing. I'm still amazed I was able to complete it, though I should have just bailed after the first half when one of my knees started to hurt. That turned into two, followed by the granny gear death march. Needless to say, I couldn't even pedal for a week. The month after that, any ride over 15 minutes meant pain and trying to go further meant terrible pain. I took a week or two off here and there but it still came back.
Switching to speedplay frog pedals, stretching and gradually increasing mileage helped some, but really taking a month off of the bike was the best fix. It just gave things enough time to heal instead of re-injuring them.
I've been through it and things are going strong now, 10 months later. The ride that did it for me happened in April of 2007 and I had on and off problems until I took September off due to a car accident. Since then things have been good.
Also, the best advice will probably come from your doctor.
02-25-08, 09:16 PM
Glad you're on the mend. Your situation sounds a lot more tedious than what I went through! That sounds like a really harsh start of your 2007 season! OUCH!
Sorry about the car crash. May you heel fast!
You went to Speedplay from another pedal system? Which one?
02-25-08, 09:36 PM
It's probably not the shoes. That would be almost last on my list of potential causes.
First, it's highly likely that you incurred an overuse injury, by jumping from zero to 50 miles to 100 miles in a very short span. You shouldn't increase your riding more than 10% per week total.
Second, it could be any combination of improper fit and technique that contributed to your problems. Your saddle could be too high, too low, too far forward or too far back. Also, you might have too low a cadence, particularly on the hills. You want to spin rapidly and with minimal force at all times, even on the hills.
Third, if you have arch issues you should use whatever inserts you normally use in your cycling shoes as well.
Fourth, there is some recent indication that a high degree of float can actually aggravate knee issues. However, the studies are still a bit preliminary.
That said, it seems unlikely that other than float, the type of clips you use won't affect your knees. Bigger clips will give you a stronger grip (which you really only need if you're sprinting) and can relieve some "hot's foot" sensations.
I'd get some rest and a proper bike fit first, then proceed with a more rational training regime.
I was using SPD's at the time of the 200k, I also think my saddle was too high and that I should have been on a setback seat post.
The car crash just messed my shoulders up a bit, a month went by and the knots that had developed were bearable, but it did force me off my bike long enough for my IT band and knees to really heal.
I'll preface this post by noting I'm not a doctor - just a l.d. rider with some anecdotes and theories. Back in the day before clipless (late '70's ) when I started riding, I did some long distance stuff and some hard riding (big gears) with the racers and racer wannabes. I rode with my heels in just like you show. After about 3 years of riding this way, I developed very painful knees - at the time there were few if any sports medicine types around. My family doc told me to take 2 aspirin and keep riding. I now know, thanks to the internet, that the problem was ITBS. I did a transcontinental ride (with 45 lbs of gear) in 1981, then pretty much quit riding altogether for 10 years or so, primarily because my knees hurt so much. I resumed riding in the early 90's, went cliipless, and adjusted my SPD cleats so my heels were pointed in, thinking that was my "natural" position on the pedals. I never rode on the big chain ring, never rode fast, kept lowering my seat, and dosed myself with ibuprofen. Fast forward to 2003 - I purchased a new bike, starting reading about knees and learned about ITBS. I shelled out a couple of hundred bucks and visited a professional bike fitter, expecting him to suggest orthotics or some such. He had me sit on a bench with legs dangling, and noted that my toes were pointed straight ahead, and adjusted my cleats to do the same. He raised my seat nearly 2 inches, and took some power measurements. It turns out my right leg was putting out way more power than my left, which had always been pointing almost straight ahead. The fitter commented that this was very unusual. It also turns out that my right knee always hurt way more than my left, and my right heel always was much further in than my left. Hmm... Since that session, I have steadily increased my milage - almost 7000 miles in 2007, with 3 brevets and another 8-10 centuries. I'm 55 now, and I was about 30 when I quit riding in the '80s. The knee pain has mostly disappeared. Based on this experience, plus some anecdotes from others online, I believe (here's the theory) that the root cause of my ITBS was my heel-in position on the pedals. I also suspect that the much greater power output of my right leg was due to the heel-in position. Remember vectors back in your high school math? Most of the power output in your leg is coming from the part above the knee. When my right toe was pointed outward, the force applied by my upper leg had two components - one pointed straight ahead, and one perpendicular to that, pointed to the right. That perpendicular force on the knee is what (I believe) caused the ITBS to develop. Since the upper part of my right leg was producing force in both the forward and sideways directions, the total power output from that leg was considerbly larger than the left leg, which was mostly producing force in one direction (forward) only. Consider consulting with a professional of some sort , like a bike specific sports med doc, or a fitting specialist (probably not the guy at your LBS). Good luck! By the way, my present pedals are Crank Brothers Candys - eggbeaters with a platform.
02-26-08, 08:01 PM
Thank you so much for a very deep and applicable post.
I'm no spring chicken anymore. Actually, I'm 42. Almost. Tonight I did an hour on my trainer (I just got it back from a friend who was using it) and paid really close attention to what my feet were doing. First off, I have regular Eggbeaters on my Road bike. I have a set of Candy's in the box in the garage. I see now I should have put the Candy's on the roadie and the Eggbeaters on the commuter.I'm really new to clipless, and have done a lot of miles in clips and never felt my ITB before.
I need to see a good fitter as well since the Eggbeaters will not work for me on the road bike for long distances, 75+ miles, (long for me) I want to ride.
Tonight on the trainer I really noticed my feet squishing left and right. I could hear the Eggbeaters springs crinkling. I'm going to put the Candies on after I post this actually.
I also took the cleats off my shoes and put them on the second (rearward) set of holes. I noticed that there really is no azimuth adjustment possible in these Specialized Tahoe shoes. The holes actually have a protrusion and forces the same alignment and only allows for forward and rearward adjustment. The other thing is that this angle is different for both the shoes as noticed in the diagram above.
So I've learned a few things:
Not all SPD shoes allow azimuth adjustments. These Tahoe's sure don't. I could fix that with a Dremmel...
The Eggbeater pedal suffers for lack of a platform for long distance riding. Thus, Crank Bros make the Candy, Quattro and Mallet lines. The platform will stabilize left right rotation of the foot. The eggbeaters just look cooler than candy's. Not that I care, Fred that I Am anyway. (I have a rack on my road bike! GASP)
Before I shell out for new shoes or new pedals or both, I realize I must see a fitter. I've already called a guy in NYC who is knows his stuff. I suspect he might suggest training tips as well. I'll make an appointment tonight.
Thanks for the shoe angle info as well. My heel-in assumption is simply that, and uneducated guess.
Years ago, I road 200+ miles tours in clips and never cared what an ITB was. Back then, the only problems came from crap saddles and backpacks! My Brooks and panniers solved those issues...
Thanks again for your verbose and insightful post.
02-26-08, 08:54 PM
I had to post this so quickly because I'm quite surprised.
I switched the Eggbeaters off and put the Candy's on.
Somehow, both feet are now aligned! Meaning my heels are both the same distance from the crank spindle, where my left was further away using the Eggbeaters. The lateral alignment under pressure is rock steady now with the platform the Candy provides.
Why on Earth are my heels aligned now? The lateral stability is simple to understand due to the Candy's composite platform. I used the same shoes for both pedals without any other adjustments. I'm guessing that my personal anatomy would explain why I might benefit from a platformed pedal. That would explain such big change... The only obvious difference between an Eggbeater and Candy is the platform.
I am so confused now. At first blush, the Candy pedals will work much better for me on the road bike. I must see the fitter ASAP. The Crank Brothers pedals have been a dream to get in and out of. Could it be as simple as a shoe issue? It's clear the Eggbeater pedal isn't right for me on the distance bicycle. The lack of a platform is a very important difference. How much better is the Quattro Pedal from a Candy? They look functionally the same to me.
Anyway, I had to share this tidbit.
02-26-08, 11:17 PM
Brooklyn, good job on exploring the causes of your problems. The platform actually should make no difference in use if you've got a stiff enough sole on the shoe. A road shoe that you'll want to use for long distance will have a stiff sole, much stiffer than the tahoe offers. I'm pretty sure the tahoe is the one I just ordered for my wife because it's basically a comfortable tennis shoe that happens to offer a two hole cleat mount. The flex in the sole of the shoe could very well be the difference you've noticed when going from a platform to non-platform pedal. FYI, I rode 110 miles this weekend on gravel and the lead guy was running egg beaters on his fixed gear cross bike.
I'd recommend going to the bike fitter, but probably plan on shelling out for some more "road specific" shoes with a stiff sole. Keep the tahoes for your commuting purposes as they'll be much nicer to walk around on. As far as healing the IT band, rest, ibuprofen, ice and heat, and do some good stretches before each ride. Mine is still hurting a little after this weekend's slog since I haven't had any rides longer than 50 miles since October and most have been under 20.
One comment here, do what you're body feels is right not what looks symmetric. Most people don't have legs the same length and that causes a lot of problems when they force themselves into perfectly symmetric motion for endless hours.
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