One of the compelling images most people miss in the coverage of the Tour de France is how the bike mechanics basically take apart and re-assemble the steeds used by riders in the Tour. Where most of us expect our bikes to basically hold together day-to-day, praying there is not a mechanical along the way, Tour mechanics break the bikes apart and put them together again every night.
It’s a massive job, but necessary to keep nine Pro riders pedaling their best over 2000 miles in 20+ days. The pressures those pros put on their bikes may be greater than you and I, but the lesson of that pressure should not be lost on us.
The wear and tear of racing and training impacts all of us. And it can be tempting to avoid tinkering with our bikes or our bodies when we’re having what feels like success. Yet that instinct to protect your equilibrium can have the most devastating consequences.
Overuse injuries most often come about through repetitive training or undue stress on one particular part of the body. This can happen to your feet from running when you pound away at the same pace on cambered roads. That’s sometimes how stress fractures come about.
Or you can strain a hip flexor doing speedwork on a track if it’s cold outside. Doing proper warmups as well as preparatory strength work, stretching and rolling out sore muscles is just like doing mechanical work on a bike.
Swimmers can hurt their shoulders from bad form. Yet it’s tempting not to “fix” your stroke if it’s basically getting you through training and races. But when you have a “mechanical”breakdown that results in a sore shoulder, then you wish you’d done the right thing and fixed your stroke even if it wasn’t broke.
It’s helpful to look through the lens of a pro rider to assess your own training and racing. Certainly all of us could use a bit more attention to the mechanical workings of our bikes. The same principle holds true in all phases of our running and riding. Sometimes it pays to imagine something’s broke in order to prevent problems in the future. The pros do it. How about you?