Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No Shoe Pain

Some riders have asked me how or why I have evolved into moving my cleats further back on my shoes. Here is the story....

It is interesting it has taken riders 20 years to start believing that moving the cleats back will help hot foot without sacrificing power. In the 1986 RAAM my feet were so pounded during the middle of the race I needed to get off my bike and walk at times. After 2,000 miles I arrived in Memphis and had my crew go and buy some BMX platform pedals. I put on my tennis shoes and my natural pain free foot position was pedaling on my arch. At that point in the race I didn’t go any faster but I was much more comfortable.

The next year Pete Penseyres and I were training for the Tandem Transcontinental. I started to feel the affects of hot foot returning as the training miles reached 300, 400, 600, 800 miles per week. I knew I had to fix my shoe problem. Aerolite pedals were new on the market. It was easy to mount them with drywall screws installed from inside the shoe. On my first ride I remember that my feet were pain free for the first time in years. It took me a few tries to get used to clipping in the new position but it felt natural by the second day.

During our 6 months of training we were being tested by Randy Ice with VO2 Max tests. We were riding a crude Monark Ergometer and I could not use Aerolite pedals. During my January tests I used old style toe clips and straps. During my May tests I just rode on gym shoes on flat pedals and pedaled on the middle of my foot. My tests showed I was 10% more fit in May which should have been due to the training. However my watts of power did not decline from pedaling in the middle of my foot.

The real test came during the Tandem Record Ride. I was wearing old style $29 thin leather cycling shoes with leather soles. I had thin Odor Eater pads inside the shoes. My feet felt great the entire ride averaging 383 miles per day. I am sure moving the cleats back 1 inch was the reason my feet felt better.

A side effect of moving the cleats back is that pedal float is not as important. I have had no knee problems the past 20 years even while riding my single speed bike across the country over fifteen times.

It is also common to have hot spots on the bunion sides of your toes. It is okay to cut small vertical slashes in your shoes similar to fish gills. Usually 3-4 slashes 1/4 inch apart over the pressure point will allow the shoe to flex enough to avoid the pain.

Also make sure your shoes are big enough. For example: Going from a size 44 to a size 45 for hot weather helps the swelling problem.

Also bring 2 pair of your favorite shoes but of different brands. Change them everyday even if they feel fine. The pressure points will be slightly different between the two pairs and that will help the inflamed areas to recover on the off days. Bicycling doesn’t have to hurt. My motto on long rides is “No Pain, No Pain”.


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