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Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
CREATED: 06/19/11 by jdchristopher REPLIES: 6
jdchristopher's ravatar jdchristopher    JOINED: 9/22/10    POSTS: 23
Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/19/11 11:41 AM


...that's my re-enactment of a car accident 5 years ago. It was a pretty heinous wreck and I ended up needing physical therapy and a walking stick for a year. that sort of ended my competitive swimming career and a host of other childhood aspirations. but i had good pain killers. 3 years and I'm working in Hawaii, witnessing the Kona race. I decided to become a triathlete, among other thing, and get up off my ass and work towards something again. again to 2 months ago. I'm now an NTPer on a leisurely bike ride to work. Something goes horribly wrong in the 3 mile ride and I notice it in my back immediately. Get checked out and was told my old injury flared up again, either to overtraining or "just because"... I have a herniated disc in my lower lumbar (L4-L5). I'm told not to bike for 6-8 weeks, and to cut down on the running. There goes the DC tri with my fellow NTPers.


Long intro, I know, but here's where I need some advice from the Sages of the DC Tri Club:
I'm still signed up for Nation's Tri in September. My MDs and CrossFit coaches think my injury is good enough to train for it. But I'm left with a dilemma:

  • what do I do about my "death" bike? I don't want to get on it and get injured all over again. The bike is an aluminum hybrid (I'm an NTPer after all) with no way to really switch position. it's very leisurely and I suspect the upright sitting just helped the vibrations go up my spine.

Two other factors to consider:

  • The chicken and the egg scenario: I want a new bike.. but I'm worried about dropping $1-2k on a sport I've never tried before. I'm not the most comfortable person on a bike and if I can't master the skill, this may be a sunk cost.
  • New bikes: Cyclist friends of mine have been weighing in on this.. one suggested a steel touring bike-- it's closer to a road bike than my hybrid and the steel is more shock absorbing than the aluminum. and if i don't like cycling? I'll still have a sturdy bike for emergencies, like zombie hordes.

Ok. Long rant, per usual.
I'm looking for really any advice. I plan to go to Contes in the next week or so and hammer out some specifics, but I'd like to hear from people more experienced than I first. I know I'm not the first one to recover from a back injury and I know I'm not the first to think, "hey, maybe I need a new bike.." After all, I'm much more comfortable blaming equipment than user error! :::'p::

Thanks ahead of time,

Luke's ravatar Luke    JOINED: 11/28/10    POSTS: 423
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/19/11 6:41 PM


I got a herniated disc (L5-S1) back in early 2007, and I had to take a year off from training. I got over the injury through a chiropractor (I can give you the name of the one I used!) and by hanging on an inversion table (check them out at the Healthy Back store... they're great!) I saw noticeable results after just 2 weeks of using the inversion table. Plus, the Healthy Back store will prob let you try it out in the store a few times without actually buying one. Give it a try!


jdchristopher's ravatar jdchristopher    JOINED: 9/22/10    POSTS: 23
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/19/11 10:31 PM

Thanks, Luke.. I've been going to a acupuncturist and chiropractor regularly; I'll look into inversion tables (though I'm a bit space-limited in my DC apartment)!

Did you have to modify your biking or running habits when you got back into training at all?


Luke's ravatar Luke    JOINED: 11/28/10    POSTS: 423
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/22/11 7:02 PM

I would def try out an inversion table. Go into HealthyBack... there's one in Tysons, and several other locations too. Back in 2007, they let me try it out in the Tysons store a couple of times... and I felt a difference just by using it in their store for 5-10 mins a few times.

Also, seeing a chiropractor really helped me out. I worked with a guy named Dr. Bernard Etherly... who actually did Ironman Wisconsin last summer, so he def understands the pains and struggles of triathletes and endurance athletes. His email is dretherly at yahoo dot com. He also attends the Tuesday night hill rides at Conte's Ballston fairly regularly, so you may run into him there too!

And yes, I did end up changing my running habits a bit, but not because pain forced me to do it. I found out that I was overstriding before, which was putting a lot more strain on my knees, hips, and back than a shorter stride would. By shortening my running stride, I was able to turn my legs over faster while putting less strain on my joints, thus preventing injuries. I am running faster times now after my herniated disc than I ever ran before the injury. It's def something you can overcome!


karlaj's ravatar karlaj    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 215
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/22/11 9:51 PM

Sorry about the injury. That has to really suck, just getting started then getting KOd.

I'm no M.D., nor a bike guru, but I don't think you have a "death bike". And I don't think you should go bike shopping until you're better unless you're burning Benjamins in the fireplace to keep warm during winter. Hybrids and more upright riding should be much much easier on your back than getting into a road or TT position. This is probably the best practical solution to still ride around this season and do Nations. Take it easy and listen to the Drs and your back, of course. Now, you may still need to get fitted on your hybrid to alleviate some bad positioning, but I cannot imagine you'll relieve more problems moving to a more aggressive position going roadie/TT. Once you're better, you'll have a better idea of your limits, wants, and needs, and you can go nuts buying the fastest bike you can afford rather than settling on a steel touring bike you might never really ride. Zombie hordes or no.

Frame material can matter for comfort, but I've never felt like it's as night/day as some would have you believe, but feel free to try for yourself. Bike fit and a good saddle are more important. Besides, you can borrow or get a carbon seatpost ($20-50) and probably reap most of the benefits.

Feel better!

merlinkim's ravatar merlinkim    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 304
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/23/11 10:17 AM

To add to Jason's advice - an additional way to get more comfortable on the bike you have is to buy wider tires. Tires are sized by wheel diameter x width, so for a road bike, most are 700c x 23 (the 700 doesn't mean much). If your hybrid uses mountain bike sizing, it's in inches, so something like 26.5" x 1". For comfort, wider is better, so look at the second number.

Ask the folks at Contes, or whatever shop you go to, to help you out with the tire to make sure you're getting the proper diameter (first number), and get a new set with the second number larger than what you have now. The tires need not be fancy, just wider than what you have now and narrow enough to clear your brakes

denaindc's ravatar denaindc    JOINED: 2/28/09    POSTS: 192
RE: Injured NTPer Looking for Bike Advice
POSTED: 6/24/11 4:36 PM

I own a steel touring bike. I used it for 2 year of tris before dropping a lot of $ for a new carbon bike. If the touring bike can be adjusted for your height, you are welcome to borrow for a while to see if that type of bike works for you. It is currently just sitting in my house as a spare commuter bike.

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