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Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

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Old 07-23-07, 11:38 AM   #1
matthew_deaner
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Mileage limits for a 10-year old?

I'm hoping this is the right subforum for this sort of question...
My son has been cycling for a while, and has recently taken an interest in long-distance cycling. He has done two centuries on his single bike (with me, of course). We have done several fast centuries on our tandem. The terrain around here (southern Indiana, near Bloomington) is hilly.

Should I be worried about too much stress on his body at such a young age? I make sure he has adequate nutrition... but I worry about too much stress to his growing joints. He occasionally complains of muscle soreness after a long ride, but never has joint pain. Is it a good idea to allow him to do these long rides?
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Old 07-23-07, 12:15 PM   #2
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I dont have any specifics about distance or anything. But in general I would say as long as he doesn't have joint pain things are ok. Muscle soreness is a good thing :-)

My only concern would be proper technique spinning so he doesn't do any damage to his knees from mashing.

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Old 07-23-07, 12:49 PM   #3
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Generally speaking, most kids don't get enough phys.ed. How many hours of activity does he get in a week? I know for me I played soccer for a good 5~10hrs a week when I was in my teens.
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Old 07-23-07, 12:50 PM   #4
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My only concern would be proper technique spinning so he doesn't do any damage to his knees from mashing.
Same here. Most beginning cyclists, especially younger ones tend not to spin fast enough. I had that problem myself.
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Old 07-23-07, 12:52 PM   #5
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Generally speaking, most kids don't get enough phys.ed. How many hours of activity does he get in a week? I know for me I played soccer for a good 5~10hrs a week when I was in my teens.

Usually 10-12 hours per week, exclusively cycling. I've been wanting to get him involved in team sports, but my work schedule won't permit it, and I am single.

He is a bit of a masher on his single bike. His gearing is not ideal for his age... 52/39 crankset paired to a 12-27 cassette.

Just FYI - he is a little on the thin side... weighs 71lbs and is tall for his age. Probably looks more like an 11-year old.
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Old 07-23-07, 01:22 PM   #6
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I think that as long as it is what HE wants, and he isn't in pain from it (or complaining about it) - being active can never be a bad thing.

I did a combo 100km/100mile ride this weekend, and there was a dad & his two kids out doing the 100km. They were pretty speedy & made me feel like I should be doing more.
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Old 07-23-07, 02:26 PM   #7
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Don't hold him back. I know when I was that age, I was playing club soccer, all out. When I had a growth spurt, I had hip & knee pain, but otherwise no worries. Keep an eye on saddle height & cadence, and of course I'm sure you've worked on hydration. My daughter is 11, has just been able to fit the tandem this season & lately taken off the crank shorteners, but her big issue is hydration.
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Old 07-23-07, 03:29 PM   #8
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I'd say "the more, the better". Quite frankly, I think young people do too little physical activity, and whatever they do, they are pushed to do it too intensively. No problem with 100 km – or more if he wants to – as long as he doesn't push hard the whole way. And on the long term, I much prefer a child who is used to ride 100 km conservatively than a child who is used to race hard for only 10 km. Guess who is more likely to tour or to commute by bike?

As always, make sure the child is prepared for the weather, fits the bike, and is mentally prepared. For instance, I know that my 11-year-old daughter would ride 80-90 km without problems as long as we are in an urban environment. Bring her traffic jams and she loves it; but she feels bored when cycling between trees or corn fields.
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Old 07-23-07, 04:02 PM   #9
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I think that as long as it is what HE wants, and he isn't in pain from it (or complaining about it) - being active can never be a bad thing.
This is the classic "European bike racer" advice. Nothing is too much as long as it's coming from him, and not some outside pressure.

"European bike racer" advice also holds that he shouldn't even have the option of being a gear masher at this age. They (and I) would have you remove the big ring entirely and either replace the cogset or set the derailleur to limit him to no more than perhaps the 16 cog.

HTH!
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Old 07-23-07, 04:07 PM   #10
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Looks like the general consensus is that my son won't harm his joints; etc by putting in a lot of miles.

My son's doctor seemed to think it was a really bad idea for my son to ride as far as he does... but she has little or no experience in sports medicine and many of her opinions in the past have been way off base. I would switch doctors if there were another in this area on my insurance plan.

I will help him work on stepping up his cadence. That may help his muscular soreness too.

I think we already have the nutrition thing down. I am experienced with distance cycling, and I make sure that he eats when he needs to and that he has enough to drink. I really have to watch out that he doesn't overeat... cycling really stimulates his appetite. He'll eat until his stomach hurts at rest stops if you let him.
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Old 07-23-07, 05:21 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
Thanks for all the suggestions. Looks like the general consensus is that my son won't harm his joints; etc by putting in a lot of miles.

My son's doctor seemed to think it was a really bad idea for my son to ride as far as he does... but she has little or no experience in sports medicine and many of her opinions in the past have been way off base. I would switch doctors if there were another in this area on my insurance plan.

I will help him work on stepping up his cadence. That may help his muscular soreness too.

I think we already have the nutrition thing down. I am experienced with distance cycling, and I make sure that he eats when he needs to and that he has enough to drink. I really have to watch out that he doesn't overeat... cycling really stimulates his appetite. He'll eat until his stomach hurts at rest stops if you let him.
I'm a physician, but not a pediatrician. For once, I agree with the medical advice dolled out on the forum. (Too often, it's dangerous.) But in this case, spin, spin, baby. And go as far as you want. I was racing when I was 14 and am only psychologically damaged as a result. Thus far, physiologically intact.
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Old 07-23-07, 06:19 PM   #12
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I don't think that kids of this age will naturally work too hard if they are not pressured to perform. As long as his bike fits and good judgement is used I think it is a blessing that your son will ride long rides with you. Of course you will have to be careful that he is not trying too hard to keep up with dad and give him adequate rest stops. Sounds to me like you are a concerned parent so he is probably OK.
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Old 07-23-07, 09:18 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
I'm hoping this is the right subforum for this sort of question...
My son has been cycling for a while, and has recently taken an interest in long-distance cycling. He has done two centuries on his single bike (with me, of course). We have done several fast centuries on our tandem. The terrain around here (southern Indiana, near Bloomington) is hilly. b

Should I be worried about too much stress on his body at such a young age? I make sure he has adequate nutrition... but I worry about too much stress to his growing joints. He occasionally complains of muscle soreness after a long ride, but never has joint pain. Is it a good idea to allow him to do these long rides?
Cycling on a bike that fits well is fairly gentle on the body - especially compared to a lot of other sports.

I would be cautious - but not overly concerned - about his growth plates. He's a little young for issues right now, but as he gets older and starts to grow fast, it's easy for kids to get an overuse syndrome in the growth plates. I got Osgood-Schlatter (a related concern) and hobbled around for about 6 weeks when I was 15.

It would be a good idea to do some cycling specific stretching - it will be especially good as he starts to grow. I like the cyclo-zen stretches and strength training myself.
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Old 07-23-07, 09:24 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by matthew_deaner View Post
I'm hoping this is the right subforum for this sort of question...
My son has been cycling for a while, and has recently taken an interest in long-distance cycling. He has done two centuries on his single bike (with me, of course). We have done several fast centuries on our tandem. The terrain around here (southern Indiana, near Bloomington) is hilly.

Should I be worried about too much stress on his body at such a young age? I make sure he has adequate nutrition... but I worry about too much stress to his growing joints. He occasionally complains of muscle soreness after a long ride, but never has joint pain. Is it a good idea to allow him to do these long rides?
I suggest that you consult with an orthopedist, preferably one specializing in sports injuries. An orthopedist should know if there is any risk associated with long distance cycling at a young age. The cost of a short appointment would ease your mind if there is no danger, and save you much grief if there is.

I certainly would hope that there is no increased risk. Sounds like your kid has a great future as a cyclist.
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Old 07-23-07, 09:29 PM   #15
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Get a tandem . . . that way dad can control the cadence!
Way to go junior!!!!
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Old 07-23-07, 09:53 PM   #16
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I suggest that you consult with an orthopedist, preferably one specializing in sports injuries. An orthopedist should know if there is any risk associated with long distance cycling at a young age. The cost of a short appointment would ease your mind if there is no danger, and save you much grief if there is.
FWIW, I've been closely associated with two "bicycle racing" orthopods in my coaching career, and they couldn't have been further apart in their opinions. So maybe you should doctor shop until you find one you agree with and then go with him. LOL.

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I certainly would hope that there is no increased risk. Sounds like your kid has a great future as a cyclist.
Agreed 100%. Nearly all the cases of "burnout" I've come across have been related to parental pressure. The kids that do it because they love it tend to go pretty far. See: LeMond.
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Old 07-28-07, 11:22 AM   #17
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It's fine but I'd add in some impact training or weight training. Research is showing that without it, kids grow up with very weak bones and are prone to breaks. Read "Bike For Life - How To Ride To 100," I think it's chapter 8 on bone density, etc. (And don't worry about stunting his growth. That's 100% a myth. Aside from the fact that it's been disproven, I started weightlifting at age 11 and I'm 6' 1". No one else in my family, or even grandparents is over 5' 7")

One other thing to be careful of: children don't have a VO2 Max, or taper. So you have to be careful because they can keep going and going and not realize they're reaching their limit (over-taxing/over-heating).
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Old 07-28-07, 10:13 PM   #18
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This is the classic "European bike racer" advice. Nothing is too much as long as it's coming from him, and not some outside pressure.

"European bike racer" advice also holds that he shouldn't even have the option of being a gear masher at this age. They (and I) would have you remove the big ring entirely and either replace the cogset or set the derailleur to limit him to no more than perhaps the 16 cog.

HTH!
would this be the wrong place to ask, "what's wrong with mashing?".
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Old 07-29-07, 12:33 AM   #19
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USCF has rules about junior gearing, and you can get a cassette that starts at a 14, that way they can't run too tall of a gear to stress their legs. Also helps them learn to spin. My 14yo daughter is a masher even with low gears. Also, watch the height, he'll outgrow framesets before components, I've been xfering parts from one leader frameset to another at $139/pop for the frameset. Her bike is a mix of 105/ultegra swap meet parts.
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Old 07-29-07, 12:33 PM   #20
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would this be the wrong place to ask, "what's wrong with mashing?".
Tradition holds that mashing, especially at a young age, overstresses the knees and can result in injury. There are no scientific studies that I am aware of, bu my biased personal experience has been that there is some truth to it.

One cannot say "Mashing will cause injury", nor "Spinning will prevent injury" but I think it is fair to say that "Mashing is somewhat more prone to cause injury, especially in children".

Tradition also holds, BTW, that spinning from an early age promotes supple muscles and a good pedal stroke. I hold about the same opinion about this as I do the theory of injury.

HTH!

<edit> If I'd bothered to read Mark's post on the subject I would have saved myself some trouble. Well, now you have two identical opinions on the matter.
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