Saturday, January 11, 2014


2750 miles on bumpy gravel and dirt roads adds up to tangible wear & tear on one’s body.  I will be paying particular care with my contact points.  The plan is to avoid the all too common nerve compression damage that many TDR racers inflict on themselves.  Hot spots on the feet, numb hands and of course saddle sores.  I have suffered from all three to varying degrees, and at some point the damage is permanent.

I damaged my feet during my first AZT (2008) and while mostly recovered, even now I have lingering effects.  The culprit was basically small contact area pedals. (Crank Brothers).  The extremely small shoe to pedal contact area with this design concentrates all the force from standing over a tiny area of the food.  By my third day, after a straight 18 hr push, I had a small hot spot on each foot.  At the time I had no clue what had happened.  I just knew while standing my feet itched and burned right over the pedal with each stroke.  I thought I had dirt or something but no matter how much I cleaned out my shoes or rubbed my feet the pain priested.  Of course after the race I researched a bit and was mildly dismayed to learn I had permanent nerve compression damage. 

So here is part 1 of my 2014 plan for contact point mitigation.

(Disclaimer—when it comes to contact point issues--what works for me may or may not work for you and visa a versa.  This is a case of test & test and then use what works for ‘you’, not what someone else does or uses)


A super stiff carbon sole racing shoe would help spread the force at pedal/shoe contact point.  But such shoes are not good for walking/hiking.  In my opinion they contribute to Achilles issues if you walk or hike in them very much.  Of course the TDR does not require much walking for some of the really strong racers. 

But I will be walking a bit, and will use my favorite tried and tested go-to multi-day shoe.  Mavic Pulse.

This is the ultimate multi-day shoe, here is why:

·         Simple 3 Strap—fastest on/off with widest range of adjustment
·         Lightest weight (go ahead and compare to any other TDR capable mtb shoe)
·         Dries out faster than other shoes
·         Best traction (the tread compound is the perfect compromise between soft and hard)
·         Stiff sole but still walkable (not carbon stiff but not flexy)
·         And they can be had for less than $100

In addition to Mavic Pulse shoes I will:

1.       Use green Specialized Body Geometry Foot beds.  I just checked and they no longer offer the exact style that I have used since my AZT fiasco, so I will try/test their new style.

2.       Dermal out the fore/aft cleat slots to allow the cleats to be positioned further to the rear.  This helps alleviate Achilles issues and places the contact point force away from my damaged nerves.

3.       Insert under the foot bed, right over the cleat area, a homemade, thin credit card size metal or plastic stiffener to spread the point forces

4.       Use medium to thick Smartwool socks—my feet like the extra padding and wool is the best sock material for the TDR for various reasons  

5.       Use a larger contact area pedal.  Currently I am using XTR PD-M985’s. 
I like the very large contact area and am thinking of adding a rubber spacer of some type to force light contact while standing between the bottom of my shoes and the rear section of the platform

Next post I will talk about hands and what I will do to mitigate at this contact point

1 comment:

  1. Great blog, Marshal. Always good to have TD veteran perspective on bike contact points. Thanks for the good info and I look forward to the rest of your insights.