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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    5

    Newbie Intro and Numb Toes

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    I've been visiting this forum for a few months now and finally decided to join. I am new to cycling. I just bought my first "nice" bike in March. It's a Trek WSD 7.2 in baby blue. I absolutely love it. I decided to start riding for a number of reasons; the two biggest being: 1. I was approaching the end of homeschooling my children (just graduated my youngest last month), and was looking for something to do for ME. 2. A dear friend, who is 70 years old, inspired me to get on a bike and ride the C&O canal with her on a 4 day charity ride she does every July.

    I am pretty comfortable on my bike now. We live in a rural area, but there is a beautiful bike path right near my neighborhood. I regularly ride 10 - 15 miles when I go out, and try to do 20 once a week. There is a good mix of hills and flats on my route.

    I have recently had a problem on my right foot, where my big toe and the next one will go numb about 6-7 miles into my ride. I am adjusting how I sit as needed, but it doesn't completely go away unless I get off the bike and walk around for a few minutes. I haven't moved to clipless pedals yet and right now I ride in tennis shoes on regular pedals. I try to keep my foot position so that the ball of my foot is pushing the pedal. There is no other numbness in my leg, only in those 2 toes.

    My husband thinks it's time for me to move to clipless and that will solve the problem. His theory is that since I've become better at pedaling, I'm trying to pedal clipless without the equipment and it's putting pressure on my foot to keep the shoe in place. I'm not sure.

    So that's a little about me. I'd welcome any ideas on what might be causing the numbness and how to adjust to make it stop. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    251
    Actually, I agree with your husband. When you are in regular tennis shoes, the soles are flexible, which means with every stroke of the pedals, you are not transferring all of your power to the drive train. You have to push harder. With clipless, throughout the stroke, all 360 degrees, you are transferring power, which means that you don't have to push as hard... you are pushing with one leg and pulling with the other on opposite sides of the stroke and the stiff sole transfers the power evenly, throughout the entire 360 degrees. With your sneakers, you are probably pushing so hard that you are compressing a nerve.

    Go clipless. You'll never go back. Even for a trip down the block, you'll never want platform pedals again. You'll discover that those 15 miles and 20 miles are a lot easier and you'll go further and faster, too.

    Good for you to start riding. Your older friend sounds absolutely inspirational! Good luck and have fun!
    The bicycle has done more for the emancipation of women than anything else in the world. ~ Susan B. Anthony

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    perpetual traveler
    Posts
    1,267
    I use clipless on my road bike and have no numb foot issues. I don't on my hybrid, don't want to, but have had issues on that bike with numb foot. Some shoes are worse than other shoes. Oddly, it doesn't seem to correlate with the stiffness of the shoes. I can ride 20 miles in Crocs and have no problem. But I also can ride for miles in my Keen bike sandals, which are very stiff and actually are made to take cleats and used with clipless, also with no problems. Running shoes/tennis shoes, a big problem. So who knows. I found shoes that work so I am happy.

    Maybe first try a different pair of shoes?
    Trek Madone 4.7 WSD
    Cannondale Quick4
    1969 Schwinn Collegiate, original owner
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    Richard Feynman: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Location
    Indianapolis, Indiana
    Posts
    10,889
    I would try a different pair of shoes first, athletic shoes just aren't stiff enough and don't provide enough support to your feet. Find a pair of shoes with stiffer soles that won't collapse so easily. You don't have to go clipless to ride, and even to ride all day long. I found Keen cycling sandals were stiff enough for me to ride my touring bike all day long without foot problems.

    As with everything there are different perspectives between clipless and platform or BMX pedals. Some people love clipless when they make the move, some people found that they really preferred to not be attached to their bike. Try a different pair of shoes and take you time deciding what you want to do. Regardless of your decision, have fun!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for the advice. I intend to go clipless, but it will have to wait until after the C&O ride. If I try to switch this close to it I'll be falling for 180 miles instead of riding. There will be plenty of opportunities to stop and walk it off.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Columbia River Gorge
    Posts
    3,565
    Hi Queen Bee.

    While I agree that switching pedals may help, it is also possible that the numbness is coming form nerve pressure in your back.

    Do you have any past history of back trouble?

    If you do and this seems like a possibility, I'd be happy to give you some more information on what to think about etc.
    Living life like there's no tomorrow.

    http://gorgebikefitter.com/


    2007 Look Dura Ace
    2010 Custom Tonic cross with discs, SRAM
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    2014 Soma B-Side SS

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Posts
    247
    QueenBee, I just rode the GAP and used cycling shoes with toe clips. I did have a bit of numbness, but it grew less and less each day. We were on the leisure plan, so when it got annoying, we just stopped for a bit and had a snack or watched the red tail hawks cruise along.

    FWIW, I have clipless pedals on my road bike, but view the hybrid more as a "hop on and off" kind of bicycle. I ride to the pool with my kid and want the flexibility of wearing any shoe that I happen to have on at the time.

    Enjoy your trip!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    5
    Wahine, I do not have any back problems. While I may not be in great athletic shape, I am in very good health otherwise.

    roo4, the ride I am doing is mostly at your leisure pace, so stopping frequently won't be difficult to do.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Conifer, CO
    Posts
    72
    I also have numb toe problems. I just bought a pair of platform pedals so I can ride with a variety of shoes. I want to experiment to see what shoes or sandals may work for me. Clipless is ok, but I did not particularly care for it.
    Burning fat, building fitness . . . one mile at a time . . . one hill at a time.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    Posts
    257
    QB,
    I suggest new/different shoes. Wider shoes. You could wear cycling shoes without cleats to have a more solid platform. Do not wear your shoes tight. If your toes start to go numb try loosening the laces/straps. Wiggle your toes as you ride to make sure you aren't gripping. Stretching before and after ride might be a good idea as well.
    S

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    848
    QB,

    Agree that you don't necessarily need to be clipped in but that you may need a stiffer platform.

    I'd also recommend trying inserts. Specialized makes some that will help spread the pressure on the ball of your foot (metatarsal button). You can try that. Friend of mine had the same issue and tried the inserts but found the Merrell inserts actually are working for her. However, she also compensates a bit by moving her foot a tad so that the focus of pressure isn't on that spot.

    Either way, this is a common issue amongst cyclists and runners.
    Push the pedal down watch the world around fly by us

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    5
    Thanks for all the advice. I got some cycling sandals for the ride next week. I'm going to ride without cleats this time. They are roomy and will allow for water runoff and quick dry if we get rain like it's forecast. I'll try to post an update on how things go after I get back.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    West Virginia
    Posts
    5
    I am back from my 4 day ride along the C&O Canal. It was something I've never done before. I really enjoyed the ride. Met lots of interesting people, did something for myself, and I finished well for my first bike tour.

    The ride was a charity ride for a local girls' home; San Mar's The Great Bicycle Tour was the name of the event. The participants were able to raise over 100K for the home, the most ever raised. I was really happy to have been a part of that. The hosts of the event fed us every meal, local groups such as the Lions or Kiwanis provided support every day at various stops on the trail. I gained weight there was so much food!

    We started in Cumberland, MD and ended in Georgetown near D.C. Just days before we started, I got myself a pair of Nashbar's Ragster cycling sandals. I rode without cleats, but the firmer sole helped to steady my foot and provided lots of air circulation so I didn't feel overheated. Unfortunately, it didn't help much with the numbness I had going on in my right big toe. I don't think it's a shoe problem, but rather a problem with the shorts I was wearing. They fit well overall, but are a little snug around the thigh. I think maybe something was getting cut off that caused the numbness. The reason I think it is the shorts is because I didn't get any numbness with the other pair of shorts I wore on the ride. The sandals, though heavy, were very comfortable. I had no chafing at all. I did need to wear socks with them for a couple days because the inside bottoms were textured and that just felt weird. After two days of wearing them for 6-8 hours, they were broken in enough that I could go barefoot in them without too much weirdness. I chose the Ragsters because of price ($50), availability, and speed of delivery.

    As for training, I just needed more time in the saddle. By the end of the first day I was pretty sore. But the soreness didn't last and I was able to get back in the saddle and feel comfortable each successive day. Also, because I am so new to cycling, my speed kept me near the back of the group. I wasn't embarrassingly slow, but I would like to have been a little faster. My first day I averaged 8.8 mph. The rest of the days hovered around 10.0 or above.

    Thanks to all who gave me advice on the toe problem. I ended up with a great pair of cycling sandals, figured out it's not a shoe problem, and got introduced to the board. I look forward to jumping into conversations from time to time and learning a lot from those who are experienced in cycling.

 

 

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