I have previously introduced the concept of a “showstopper.” A showstopper is anything that causes you to interrupt your season, not do an event or to stop an important ride before you’re ready to stop the ride. Here’s a personal, very painful example.
I went to the ER at Mercy Medical in Durango, Colorado, less than 1,000 miles into the 1994 Race Across AMerica. They peeled down my shorts, looked at my butt and said, “Your race is over. You have second-degree burns on your buttocks.”
A second-degree burn is through the epidermis and into the dermis, the thick layer of tissue that forms the true skin. I didn’t care what second-degree meant; all I knew was that it hurt like hell!
The day before that ER visit, it was 108F (42.2C) and I was racing across the desert down on my aerobars with a great tailwind. Concerned about saddle sores, I’d put a black, gel-filled saddle pad on the bike. The pad heated up and literally burned my butt! A showstopper!
Roadies often ask me some version of: ”I suffered from X and (almost) had to stop a ride. What can I do about this?” Physical ailments are one of the most common stoppers.
Last summer we ran a Question of the Week that asked, “What is the Biggest or Most Common Physical Issue that Affects Your Riding?” I wrote a series of columns addressing your various physical ailments and concerns. Here’s a synopsis, which hopefully will help you with any ailments this late summer and into fall. If you’re suffering from any of these things, click to the link to that topic for some helpful information.
Saddle Discomfort / Saddle Sores afflicted 21% of the respondents. Riders’ butts are as different as riders’ faces. This column discusses the general types of problems, causes and solutions. If you suffer from pain in the nether regions, hopefully you can use or adapt one of these suggestions to help.
Upper Back, Shoulder, Neck Pain / Discomfort was a problem for 17% of the respondents. The column illustrates with photos the common causes and how to correct them.
Numb / Painful Hands was a problem for 16% of the respondents. The column describes the physiological causes and the changes you can make to your riding equipment and technique.
Low Back Pain / Discomfort, caused by muscles tightening as you ride, was a problem for 15% of the respondents. Using a personal example, I describe what I do and how you can deal with it.
Cramping Pt 1 and Cramping pt. 2 are a case study of this quite painful problem for 11% of the riders surveyed. It describes what causes cramps and what you can do to prevent them, including whether advertised supplements actually work.
Hot / Painful Feet hurt 9% of the respondents. The column describes in detail the causes and then the remedies, starting with the simplest.
Last week I described How to Evaluate a Potential or Actual Injury and whether it should be a showstopper. I used reader Fred Corsiglia’s question about his black and blue toes as an example. If you ever suffer from one of the above, the column has a set of questions to answer to determine if X should be a showstopper and whether X requires medical attention.
My Preventing Cycling Ailments Bundle includes in-depth information about:
- Butt, Hands, Feed: What causes pain in cycling’s pressure points, how to prevent these pains, and what to do if it happens during a ride. 12 pages
- Preventing and Treating Cramps: What causes them, how to prevent them and how to break and flush them illustrate with photos. 10 pages
- Nutrition for 100K and Beyond: What to eat and drink to avoid bonking and other riding problems. 17 pages
- Gaining a Mental Edge: Sports Psychology How to deal mentally with problems when they do occur. 17 pages
Coach John Hughes earned coaching certifications from USA Cycling and the National Strength and Conditioning Association. John’s cycling career includes course records in the Boston-Montreal-Boston 1200-km randonnée and the Furnace Creek 508, a Race Across AMerica (RAAM) qualifier. He has ridden solo RAAM twice and is a 5-time finisher of the 1200-km Paris-Brest-Paris. He has written nearly 30 eBooks and eArticles on cycling training and nutrition, available in RBR’s eBookstore at Coach John Hughes. Click to read John's full bio.