The pain, the agony

English: Shimano SH-56 SPD (Shimano Pedaling D...

Is it the shoes? The height of my saddle? Or my feet?

With the better weather we’ve been having, I’ve been making the most of it, getting out on my bike as often as possible. That means twelve times so far in July, with a couple of rest days when my legs felt achy. In the previous months, I was lucky to manage three rides in a week. Partly this was to do with the 5:2 diet: I wasn’t riding on fast days, which left just 5 days a week to choose from. Combinations of bad weather, staff meetings and inertia cut down the possible outings for the remaining days.

Realising that I needed to build more stamina if I wanted to tackle my planned French summer rides, I have suspended the 5:2 dieting in favour of 5:2 cycling. Also, I’m trying to lengthen my rides. Last weekend, for the first time, I went around 35km on both Saturday and Sunday. This is still shamefully short, but I wasn’t kidding about the stamina thing. I’m not an endurance rider, and I’ve always preferred to push myself hard for an hour than try to ride for longer. Knowing you want to go longer means you have to start out slower and pace yourself properly, which is where I’m likely to come unstuck. I’ve even started using chamois cream.

Just a few years ago, I was so fat and unfit that I was having to stop for a banana halfway around a 17km loop. I also have a vivid memory of bonking in a cold rain shower on a hill on the Bycell Road. Just a couple of years ago, although fitter, I wasn’t quite balancing fuel and effort, so going out two days in a row was out of the question.

So two 35km non-stop rides in a row is quite a leap forward. I was thinking about this yesterday, as I went out (on the hottest day of the year) for a 45km ride. (Strava only recorded 41km of this, and it wasn’t until I looked at the map that I realised it had drawn a straight line between two points, missing out 4km of route.)

But it wasn’t non-stop. It was slow, partly because of the heat and partly because of my legs. But I also had to keep stopping, not for a banana, but because my right foot was in agony. My right and left feet look very different. My left is fairly normal (I think), but the right  is deformed in various ways (mainly to do with unsightly, bony lumps on the outer and inner arches). My feet are why I can only wear ankle boots and not normal shoes.

Cycling shoes seem to be made for people with little bird feet. In any event, even if I can find a left shoe that fits comfortably, the right is impossible to get right.

At the end of a normal 1-hour ride, my right foot is always a bit numb and burny. After two hours, yesterday, I literally couldn’t put any weight on it. It is still painful this morning. This has thrown my plans for long summer rides for a loop. What to do? Try yet another pair of cycling shoes (I’ve already tried three)? Go back to flat pedals and toe clips?

I really don’t know.

2 responses to “The pain, the agony”

  1. My observation as I struggled from 8-10 mile trips towards my current 20-ish (sometimes 35) is that I did go through some kind of foot ache phase. It was an ache over the clips (more right side) and I progressively changed a couple of things.

    One was saddle height, and saddle set back (further backwards) and the other was cadence. I’ve been trying to peddle faster in lower gears (aerobic engine vs sheer leg muscle). The combined effects seem to have worked and that particular ache seems to now be banished. I do have those velcro adjustable shoes though (Shimano MT52).


    • Funny you should mention that. I’m toying with the idea of moving the saddle slightly forwards (I tend to sit towards the front of it). I’m also in yet another pair of shoes, some Bontrager multisport, size 44 which is a size above my normal shoe size. I’m pretty sure my saddle needs to go up, or maybe down.

      No particular foot ache today, though I do have a blister from walking in London yesterday.


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