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Summer Cycling: Maximize Comfort and Improve Performance

Published July 2021 | In Summer 2021

With summer weather and hundreds of miles worth of riding, cycling in the Black Hills never gets old.

Summer Cycling: Maximize Comfort and Improve Performance Media

There are hundreds of miles of picturesque road riding for the “roadies,” endless quiet gravel roads crisscrossing the region for the “gravel grinders” and dozens of single track trails for adventurous mountain bikers.

Whatever flavor you prefer, cycling in this area can offer anyone a healthy and exciting opportunity to experience the roads, trails and bike paths of the beautiful Black Hills.

Cycling stimulates your heart and lungs, improves circulation and reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Regular cycling also strengthens heart muscles, lowers resting heart rate and reduces blood fat levels. It’s easy to see why so many people love hopping on their bikes.

Meet the Experts

Bike fitting is the process of adjusting a bike for a cyclist to optimize comfort, performance, and efficiency. “Our goal is to prevent injuries and maintain form,” says Kim Greenlee, a Monument Health Rehabilitation BikeFit™ certified physical therapist. “We want to keep people active, and promote their healthy lifestyle choices. By offering an option of a BikeFit we’re giving them extra information to keep them riding longer.”

"First and foremost, bicycling shouldn’t be painful. You have five contact points on a bicycle — two hands, two feet and your saddle. You should be able to minimize pain, and address stress areas by correcting positioning and wearing properly fitted gear. Every cyclist should have padded bike shorts, padded gloves and shoes that fit well — understand that feet can swell when you ride. If you’re going to ride a bike, you should have good equipment. Not only will it last longer, it can also prevent pain and injury."

Enjoy the Ride, Pain-Free

Spending time on your bike can take a bit of getting used to, but certainly shouldn’t be painful. Finding a bike that fits properly and finding the optimal position will make your ride more comfortable, and more enjoyable.

Bryan Haivala, a Monument Health Rehabilitation BikeFit™ certified physical therapist says, “Improper cycling position can lead to pain, numbness and inefficient cycling. A biomechanical bicycle fit assessment can address and correct poor cycling positions and mechanics in order to improve your cycling experience.”

“We have a variety of things we’re looking for during a fit,” Kim explains. “We complete a tri-plane biomechanical fit analysis, then identify issues and correct movement patterns of the cyclists we’re evaluating. While the fit is taking place we’re also making small adjustments to the position of the saddle, seat post, handlebars, stem, and pedals. Finally, we complete a foot and pedal analysis.” For riders who are experiencing discomfort, or want to take their cycling to the next level, visiting a BikeFit™ certified physical therapist like Kim or Bryan in Spearfish can make a world of difference.

All of these pains can also be attributed to improper form. 

Back or neck pain. This is often caused by an improper position or poor posture. Professionals will be able to assess your position and help make adjustments.

Knee pain. Repetitive motion over the course of an extended ride can cause exhaustion and overuse of the joint. Identifying and improving movement patterns can help alleviate some of this pain.

Foot pain, numbness or burning. Often how our foot naturally hangs is directionally different than a flat pedal. This requires looking at how the foot interfaces with the pedal. When you ride for an extended period of time at a flat angle, it can cause problems in your arches leading to pain, numbness or burning.

Some of Kim and Bryan’s favorite trails to ride in the Black Hills include Dakota Ridge in Spearfish and the Deadman or Bulldog trail in Sturgis.