Conditioning and Training for Injury Prevention- Cycling in the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic (Part 1)

By: Laura Wenger, PT, DPT

Whether you are new to Durango or were born and raised here, one thing you learn quickly is that the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic is a big deal in town. The race was started in the 1880s and originally began as a race between the famous Durango Silverton Railroad and a cyclist to see who would could travel faster up to the mining town nestled in the mountains. It has since evolved into a multi-day event, and the race this year is held from May 22nd through the 25th, which also happens to be Memorial Day weekend. The race attracts thousands of cyclists to Durango to see if they can beat the train, as well as celebrate the great sport of cycling through the weekend full of events.

Now that we have rolled into late March, the race is only a little over a couple of months away. As folks get geared up and prepared for beating the train, there are some important considerations to keep in mind regarding appropriate conditioning and training for injury prevention in the sport of cycling. A recent 2012 study out of Spain kept track of injuries in active top-level road cyclists for a period of four years, and they found some interesting statistics based on the group of 51 cyclists that they studied.1 Only eight of the 51 cyclists stayed injury-free during that time, with an overall 103 cycling-related injuries reported in the injured bikers.1 Over half of the injuries were overuse injuries, with the other less than half of injuries related to trauma.1 Of the overuse injuries, just over two-thirds of those were in the lower limbs and about 90% of the overuse injuries occurred during training periods.1 Looking at those numbers, it is easy to see that the injury risk is high for, even those professional top-level athletes!

Even though the above study did not look at amateur or recreational cyclists, one might suppose that the injury risk translates to this group as well. What that means is that as you cycle on your trainer, at the gym, or on the road as the weather warms up and the recent snowfall melts, it is of crucial importance to figure out what you can do to prevent your risk of injury as you train for the Iron Horse. If you need help figuring out the best things to prevent injury for your body, don’t hesitate to have one of our licensed physical therapists evaluate your risk for injury or address any current issues that you may be experiencing as you ramp up your mileage. Also, look out for an April blog entry where I’ll talk about some specifics regarding seat height, as well as resistance training, in relation to cycling injuries.

And finally, for more information on the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic please go to their website here.

  1. De Bernardo N, Barrios C, Vera P, Cesar L, Hadala M. Incidence and risk for traumatic and overuse injuries in top-level road cyclists. Journal of Sports Sciences. 2012; 30(10): 1047-1053.