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The Pain of Traveling Using a Bicycle There is joy in traveling, but there is also pain. On my bicycle journey as I try to travel the world, from toe to head, are the following pains in bicycling. Feet first. Never, never take a long distance trip with a brand new pair of biking shoes. A blister means every turn of the crank ensures soreness that leads to pain. I prefer hard soled slip on shoes with leather bottoms. A cyclist can use tennis shoes, but the rubber has "give" during a compression stroke, thus losing some of the power stroke as the rubber absorbs a portion of downward force. There are specific biking shoes; your choice, your expense. There are bike enthusiasts who like toe clips for securing their feet to the pedals and also for an upstroke to add a bit more power to their speed. Personally, after having a near tragic episode when I could not remove the toe from a clip to prevent falling off a steep cliff, I choose to go without clips. Socks should fit comfortably without wrinkles, which cause blisters. Legs. The power train is the transmission of force from the hip through the knees to the ankle and then the foot. Without developing a top motor/transmission, a cyclist is only fooling him/herself. Training is an absolute must. I began my cross country tour practicing the first day and increasing each successive day with another mile. In forty days I was up to forty miles. Afterwards it is a matter of endurance. Be sure to practice climbing hills like the ones you'll encounter on the trip. On tour, legs will tell the rider when they are tired. Take a break, eat fruit or an energy bar. Enjoy a five minute stop. Check your equipment. If you have leg cramps, stretch carefully. Have salt tabs or a salty snack. After thirty miles the legs may tremble/spasm a bit. Take a break and a snack. If real pain hits the legs, stop. Take the time to analyze what your legs are telling you. Forcing your legs through severe pain is not advisable, but if you can slow your pace and reduce the pain it is possible to continue. Knees will be griping to the rider after thirty miles, especially if you are a senior citizen. Use a muscle cream such as Ben-Gay, before and after cycling. At the end of the day a hot tub or bath tub soak will take the soreness out. Butt. If you are grinding out more than twenty miles, buy padded bike shorts. I've tried lamb's wool, folded towels, extra layers of pants, gone commando. Face it, the butt is going to hurt. The rump is resting on two bones of the lower pelvis. Hours on these two points are going to raise your sensitivity at times to tears. I have used Petroleum Jelly, and Dairyman's Udder Cream plus other formulas. Unless you own a naturally calloused butt, you will feel pain. Again, the question is how much you can endure, or what you are willing to accept to arrive at your destination. The one injury a rider must avoid is a butt blister, because of the proximity of infection. My butt could rarely stand more than an hour of without a break. Stomach. Eat a diet of vegetables and fruit. Your energy source must have the proper vitamins and minerals to fuel the fires. Carbohydrates are necessary, but candy is a poor energy boost. The bowels must be kept healthy. Cycling with constipation makes for sluggish activity at best, and gas cramps sometimes can sideline a trip. Back. The worst mistake is taking off the shirt and getting a sunburn. As you pedal , you will forget how long you have exposed the back to the sun's rays. Now it is like fire when putting a shirt on over burned skin. Arms. Over a long period of travel, the arms begin to go to sleep. Get sluggish at holding the steering bar. Exercise while pedaling. Do modified pushups against the handlebars. Stretch at rest stops. Do isometric stretches. If the arms become numb, they cannot respond well in an emergency. Hands. An expended bicycle tour of more than a week will certainly tax the nerves of the hands, and their ability to serve the cyclist. Cutting off circulation to the hand nerves first starts a tingling sensation

in the fingers. Before long the entire hand tingles. Hour after hour makes the hands go numb. It becomes impossible to tie one's shoes, eat with a fork, or repair a flat tire. Fortunately, a half hour after stopping it generally goes away. A good pair of comfortable gloves will reduce this situation, but not completely. Not all bike gloves will serve the biker well. Experiment to find the gloves for you. Neck. The neck tires looking up while the body crouches on a multi-speed bike. Do exercises and twist the head from time to time. If soreness persists, use Ben-Gay. At night rest your head on a pillow even with your spine. Head. Expect a headache. Take an aspirin or suitable pain reliever. Persistent head pain suggests a check of your diet for vitamins and minerals. Should you take a fall and hit your head, then hear hissing or see stars/black spots, or become unconscious, it is best to see a doctor. When it comes to the pain of bad jokes told by your biking companions, I'm sorry not to have a remedy outside of pedaling faster than they can go. Yours truly, Ed Abair

The Pain of Traveling Using a Bicycle  

There is pain amidst the joy in traveling.

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