The importance (and danger) of cross training

It’s been said that the better you get at bike riding, the worse you get at everything else. If your legs are used to spinning light circles, and you suddenly try a more impactful sport, you might be asking for trouble. A cautionary tale:

Hey Lee,

Lying on the couch after having surgury on a ruptured achilles tendon yesterday and thought I should comment on the importance of cross training and stretching for us daily bikers in the hopes I can spare one of us this injury as it appears I’ll be out of full speed action for a minimum of 6 mons.

I decided to start playing basketball this off season to keep in shape. In hindsight not a great idea as all I do is ride my mountain bike and this is not good training for basketball. My body was not prepared for the impact so here I am.

Point is if your thinking of participating in another sport that has more impact be sure to ease into it or maybe we should all include a short jog in our weekly routine and of course stretch out those calf muscles especially if your hitting middle age!

Hope this helps someone and if anyone has recovered from this injury I’d love to here how you did it!

Love the site Lee.


Hey Idris,

I’m sorry you got hurt, but I’m glad you raised this point.

I’ll never forget one of Tyler Hamilton’s old columns in Velonews: He and some cycling buddies were struggling to build a rock wall in his yard. He thought it was funny: “The better you get at pedaling a bike, the worse you get at everything else.”


Downhill/DJ/pump-style riding is a lot more dynamic than straight XC, but let’s face it — your body will adapt to exactly what you demand. As a cyclist you’re in an awkward position: You have the fitness to push hard and long, but you have the cycling-specific frailty to really get hurt. Where the average person would get tired and stop, we cyclists keep going until we REALLY hurt ourselves.

Basketball looks like a ton of fun, but it can be brutal. I’ve been shooting my kid’s high school basketball games, and — wow — some of those moves would rip my legs off! I would have to work up that kind of violence.

Trevor pulls Gs like an F1 car. Look at the torque on his right shoe.

There’s more to life than pedaling
For lots of reasons, it behooves us all to:

– Train ourselves in a well rounded way. Pedaling, running, jumping, lifting, pulling, twisting, stretching, etc. There are a million ways to do this. Pick one you like.

– Be consistent and gradual — especially if you’re getting old.

Lee Likes Running (sort of)
For the longest time, I really struggled with running. Evan as a serious triathlete in college, I topped out at 8-minute miles, and every step tore me to pieces. A couple years ago I learned some important biomechanical stuff in yoga class, and I studied running form with the goal of being able to run if and when I need to.

I try to run, hike or carry heavy things 1-3x per week. I’m not fast on my feet, but I’m finally comfortable. And I’ve accomplished this:

– I feel more rounded and stable.

– I can run as part of daily life. Example: Wife’s in Blockbuster; I run to order dinner. Yesterday I ran from the dentist to the optometrist and back. That would have been a too-short bike ride, but it was a perfect 37-minute jog.

– I can participate with non-cyclists. When my kid Ian was on Xmas break, we did sprints together. Amazingly, we were about even. (But I was crippled afterward, and he was fine.)

– My Super D starts are way better. I’ve gone from dead last to top 3.

To sum it up
Let’s train our bodies to handle whatever comes up — and let’s have fun — but let’s be careful about it, OK?

Especially you old farts!

— Lee (Racing age – 39)

Idris: Take it easy, and heal fast.

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