‘It should not hurt to ride a bike’
Now that spring has sprung, people around the Lake Tahoe Basin are hopping on bicycles.
Unfortunately, a few miles or even a few yards into the ride and many experience a twinge, a pang or even downright pain.
Some might discount the discomfort as being inevitable after months of winter inactivity. However, according to Judd Van Sickle Jr. that attitude is wrong and dangerous.
“It should not hurt to ride a bike,” he said.
Van Sickle is the USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) cycling coach at the UC Davis Health System in the Sports Medicine Program.
He will be appearing Wednesday, May 11 at Incline Village’s Tahoe Center for Environmental Sciences to discuss cycling biomechanics in injury prevention and how to increase performance.
Regardless, if one is a dedicated competitor, cycling for fitness or a weekend pleasure rider, Van Sickle’s expertise as a biomechanical engineer is beneficial to all. He stresses the importance of the body to have flexibility, stability for better technique. He also urges inactive couch potatoes to first consider safety issues, but not to delay in starting a fitness regimen.
“What you are doing away from the bike is key,” he said. “It will not get any easier 10 years from now.”
Stretching and the application of yoga postures and Pilates when coupled with the build-up of core muscles from the abdominal, back and pelvic regions give the rider strength and proper alignment.
Attention paid to increasing off-road stamina has long reaching benefits, Van Sickle said.
“The older one grows the more important it gets,” he said.
In improving the cardiovascular system, Van Sickles said injury prevention is another aspect to cycling.
In Davis he works daily with sports medicine doctors and other health care specialists on to keep cyclists from making on road mistakes. In 90 minute sessions he asks what goals want to be attained. For cycling enthusiasts who enjoy biking in friendly groups up to 100 miles monthly, called century rides, require different attire and equipment than competing professionals or amateurs.
“If one is stopping occasionally or going into a coffee shop for a break, one needs to be able to walk in it,” Van Sickle said. “Competitors need a full road shoe.”
Full road shoes have stiff soles. This allows the maximum transfer of energy between the body’s mechanisms to the pedal.
How one rides a bike as is individual as the cyclist. Some can ride hard, without finesse and be fine – for a time – Van Sickle said. There are others whose saddle, or bile seat, will be a few millimeters off balance and get injured almost immediately. During his appointments he searches for the large and small idiosyncrasies.
“Cycling is full of minutia, and from the minutia comes the art form,” he said.
His superior abilities at creating art between body and machine are evident at the consistent championship winning at the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference of UCD’s cycling team.
Whether one is on the Tour of California or cruising area bike paths with the grandchildren everyone, according to Van Sickle, is an artist on wheels – without agony.