Testing The Secret Weapon

As regular readers know (and are becoming increasingly bored with hearing about), my feet have been giving me problems this year.  I’m fairly certain this is due to an aggravated nerve under the toes of my right foot, although the left foot has been known to join in the fun as well.  I suspect this is a compensation injury as the left foot takes on most of the load when the right foot simply cannot.

I’ve made progress in the past two weeks,mainly through the use of gel insoles in all of my footwear.  The final piece to this grand design arrived in the mail on Saturday.  Behold, the G-Form Bike Shoe Insole:

IMG_0750

The good people at G-Form proudly state that this is the first insole specifically engineered to dampen the vibration between the ball of your foot and the cleat, thus eliminating the “hot spot” on the sole of your foot.

Yippee!

The insoles are purported to be breathable, antimicrobial and built with “Medical Grade” Ortholite Technology.  Sounds impressive.  I’m not sure what other grades of insole there are.  “Weapons Grade” would be interesting.  Still, “Medical Grade” seemed to be more in line with what I was looking for and I gave the insoles a test ride on Monday over a 35 mile course.

As always, click for details

As always, click for details

I decided to check in on the Bristoe Station Battlefield, located near the town of Bristow.  Yes, the spellings are correct.  It seems that somewhere between 1863 and today the people of the area decided that Bristow looked better than the original spelling.  This sort of thing happens around here occasionally.  Another good example is Elys Road, west of Fredericksburg,  which suddenly turns into Eleys Road.  Very mysterious.

I hadn’t been to this small battlefield in over a year and I was curious to see what improvements had been made.  The field is preserved by the developer of a new neighborhood of homes as part of the arrangement for allowing the housing builds.  The park office is a former farm house and the park is modestly appointed with a few historical markers and some trails.  I set off on the loop, knowing the asphalt would soon give way to crushed gravel.

The start

The start

Happily, the gravel was reasonably forgiving.  If I had fatter tires and flat pedals, it would have been a breeze.  Lacking both of those items, I needed to be a little cautious of softer portions of the trail and the occasional washout.  On the whole, it wasn’t too bad.

A pleasant trail with a bench under the tree for contemplation.

A pleasant trail with a bench under the tree for contemplation.

They added a cannon!

They added a cannon!

Not a historical structure.  This is actually still in use.

Not a historical structure. This is actually still in use.

After wandering about the park for 15 minutes, it was time to set off again.  It was quite hot at this time with my Garmin reading 99 degrees.  My next stop was the nearby train station to see the commuters heading home after a day in which they were not furloughed by the government.  Most people are taking Fridays off.  I get Mondays.

I have seen the train station on sleepy weekend mornings but have never seen it in operation.  As expected, the large parking lot which has been empty on my previous trips was packed with cars.  I pulled up to the station and was disappointed by the lack of activity.  I had hoped to see bustling commuters, but settled for this pic instead.

IMG_0766

As I was setting off for home, I spotted a train in the distance.  I waited patiently and was treated to a scene I did not expect.  As the commuters disembarked the train, dozens of them began… sprinting!

The Race To The Cars

The Race To The Cars

While smiling broadly at the absurdity of the scene, I pondered why these people were behaving this way.  My best guess is that there is only one way out of the parking lot and there must be a bit of a wait to leave it.  Many people cannot bear the thought of a four or five minute wait and thus run at a flat-out sprint in 99 degree heat while wearing business clothes in order to avoid such a horror.  Fascinating.  If people will do this just to shave a few minutes off their commute, its no wonder why they hurl insults at cyclists who have the gall to ride in the road.

At this point, I really needed to start heading home.  My pace was terrible due to my detours at the battlefield and the train station.  It was stifling hot and my water bottles were getting low.  I would need to conserve fluid on the way back.  It was shortly after this point that I began to suspect my insoles were not completely satisfactory.  About ten miles later, I was certain they weren’t doing the job.  With pain shooting up through my right foot, I pulled over for a few minutes rest.  Its surprising (to me, at least) how quickly the symptoms go away with just a little break.  I was able to make the last seven miles with little issue, but I am now officially concerned about my upcoming century.

This was my first seriously hot ride of the summer and it took a lot out of me.  I sat in the cool of the house for over an hour, drinking cold water until I began to feel normal again.  Here’s hoping the heat wave breaks soon.

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27 thoughts on “Testing The Secret Weapon

  1. Sorry that your feet are still misbehaving. I like the photos–to my eye they seem extra vivid now, like your camera has taken mind-expanding chemicals! You might want to keep an eye on that thing!

    By the way–I’ve seen that sprint before at stations near me. It’s just as you thought–they’re all trying to be first (or at least not be last) out of the lot. Be cool if they all were running for bikes, like a leg of a commuters triathlon!

  2. Funnily enough, I saw almost an entire train at Metro Center exit the car and run down to get a connection today. I thought it was crazy considering there was no train for them to catch and they run every 3-5 minutes at that time of day. Now I’m thinking it was the warm up for the sprint to the cars!

  3. Have you tried cleat wedges. If your pain is primarily on the outside part of your foot then wedges could help.

    I’ve probably had about 10 pair of cycling shoes over the last 15 years. I had so much pain until I finally discovered pedal wedges. Then I started using Specialized shoes which have built in varus wedge which does the same thing.

    Since the “weapons grade” insoles didn’t help the problem could actually be a squeezed foot, Many bike shoes are designed with Euro feet in mind and squeeze the front of the foot.

    • I’ve arrived at the same conclusion, Matt, although I didn’t know I had the Europeans to blame for it. I probably should have known they’d be at the bottom of this. I’m going to switch back to my old shoes (with the duct-taped strap and all) and see if it truly is my new Shimanos.

  4. Well the advice I gave friends. A century isn’t a race. Slow and steady and take breaks as needed for the foot to recover? Just a thought. Sorry pal, I do know the frustration of a nagging recurring injury!

  5. Another great post with great photos. I dream of one day that you, me, Aaron and all the other blogger/riders will get together for a ride. I want to see all these great places in person.

    • Now is the time to ride with Aaron – he’s injured. Otherwise I’m afraid the only way he and I will be on the same piece of road is at the starting line.

  6. Don’t know how you survive in that kind of heat! I went out at night when it was “only” 80F and it was still hotter than I would’ve liked.

    When I click on the Garmin route I get “You do not have sufficient privileges to view the activity with id 343197261.” Might be a bug.

    • Thanks for pointing out the error, Brandon. I’ve fixed the link and it should be good to go now.

      I’ve cycled in these temperatures before, but this blast of heat is the first of the year for us so I wasn’t acclimatized very well. It definitely rung me out!

  7. Great post and Awesome pictures! Sorry to hear the pain is still an issue and the secret weapon wasn’t the answer. I envy the scenery and biking destination options you have so close to home.

    • Thanks, Daniel. We’ll figure this out yet. There are several neat things to see around here. Probably the biggest drawback is that I have to share those things with several hundred thousand people! I don’t take many pictures of traffic but I could fill my entire webspace memory with them if I wanted to!

  8. You can be assured that your readers can never have enough of any ailment that you care to put before them. Good writing is good writing, whether regarding feet or battlefields or racing commuters.

    I hope you get the problem sorted soon as sore feet and cycling do not mix at all well.

    • That is a very kind thing to say. Now that I know somebody on the planet thinks my writing can be described as good, the pressure is on me now! 😉

      I’ll figure out the foot issue. My next step is to bring out my old shoes (with their broken strap mended with duct tape) and see how they feel. It may be as simple as that.

      • Sidewalks and asphalt, mostly. I move onto the grass for occasional stretches but usually abandon it because I am more prone to twisting an ankle.

  9. Just a thought Steve and you may even have covered this in your trials. Do you have shoe plates with some play in them so that your foot is free to ‘wiggle’ by a few degrees or are they locked solid. I know that ‘Look Keo’ shoe plates come in grey (gray 🙂 ) with 4deg movement or Red which have no side play at all.

    • The shoes feel like they have some play, but its hard to know what “right” feels like since these are the only clipless pedals I have ever owned. I’ve loosened my shoes to the point where they barely keep my feet in – something I should have been doing all along, I think.

    • Thank you very much, Ron. I think using this setting on a sunny day may be a bit much. The previous post’s pics were taken on a cloudier day and the setting helped to make the colors more vibrant, I think.

  10. Steve, a while back when I was bothered by painful feet, I stuck a wad of cotton between my two outside toes. That took pressure off the nerve that goes between the toes, and solved my problem. I don’t need to use the cotton anymore.

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