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Ischial bursitis – is RAGBRAI over for me?

I read your RAGBRAI training tips about building endurance. Unfortunately, my situation is more dire. I got a new bike this year (specialized roubaix) with a specialized power saddle (not a lot of padding). To make a long story short, I’ve been diagnosed with ischial bursitis. Doc says 2-3 weeks off the bike. Up until now, I’ve been riding 2-5 times per week, ranging 20-60 miles. I’ve been on my bike 25 times, for a total of over 38 hours of riding time and about 640 miles total distance. My question is, assuming the bursitis goes away in time to start the ride (3 weeks from tomorrow) is it realistic to expect that I can (should) do the ride. Looking for professional medical advice or first hand experience, please.

16 Replies

hnschipper, June 30, 2018 at 7:59 am

I am not a medical professional. Two years ago I broke my thumb and tore a ligament in a bicycle accident. I was off the bike for 5 weeks. I was able to ride again right before RAGBRAI. It really cut into my planned training miles. I ended up with around 600 miles. It was fine, as far as training went. I was more concerned about pain than training. I rode with a pin in my thumb and my thumb in a splint and it was very awkward and uncomfortable shifting or braking or even just holding on to the handlebars. But I did it.


Dizzy, June 30, 2018 at 10:10 am

If I read this correctly, you’re curious if there may be another ischial flareup. I’m sitting w/a physician friend who, based on the information given, suspects that either your saddle position, the saddle itself and/or your bike fit, is out of line. Basically, he advises that there’s too much pressure / incorrect pressure on your sit bones. D


Larry Klaaren, June 30, 2018 at 2:24 pm

I concur. Go to a dealer who provides good service and get a good fit, perhaps a seat with different pressures or padding, and take advantage of something like chamois butter. I assume you are wearing padded cycling shorts.
Discuss with your doctor when to quit, and how to manage the pain and injured nerve.
My thoughts.


Lodie, June 30, 2018 at 4:30 pm

I am an orthopedic surgeon who is about to do my 7th RAGBRAI, I would think you can still do it but definitely stay off the bike until the pain is resolved. Agree with the comments above that you need a change in position or seat (or both). Your ass is telling you this isn’t working. You might even try a stationary bike to keep peddling, as long as that seat doesn’t aggravate your ischiae.


John Conway, July 2, 2018 at 7:56 am

Thanks for all the comments. I’m hopeful that it will all work out. Rest and exercise for now. I’m going for a bike fitting next week. Hope to be there…


KenH, July 2, 2018 at 8:18 am

I am not a doctor so I cannot give you a medical opinion on when you can ride again. Depend on your doctor and for those above who are doctors for that. I do concur with the advice to consider a new saddle while you are recovering and to get a good professional bike fit (if you haven’t done that already) at a local bike shop when you are cleared to sit on a bike saddle again for brief periods. If you rode a lot previously without this issue then you should look for whatever saddle you used then or something as similar as possible. In terms of your training you have enough already really. Try to keep your fitness level up by doing whatever other types of exercise your doctor recommends. Stair climbing can be a good substitute for hill training. Get out and do yardwork or something like that on hot days to get or keep your hot weather adaptation. Make sure anything you do complies with whatever guidelines your doctor gives you of course.


Bluestreelguy ., July 4, 2018 at 5:36 pm

get a Brooks saddle (B17), and be sure the height is correct.
I got my first brooks 10 years ago and have never looked back.
every time i try a newer high tech saddle i regret it and back to the brooks.
i wont change again. i get plenty of grief for a leather saddle on a carbon bike but RAGBRAI don’t care.


jelly0317, July 4, 2018 at 6:32 pm

I’ve ridden Brooks saddles for 47 years, but it might be a little late in the game to consider buying one for this year’s ride.


John Bilsky, July 4, 2018 at 7:46 pm

Check out this saddle.

You still have plenty of time to get one. I had pretty much the same ailment as you did and with this saddle properly adjusted, the issue went away. Good luck.


Charlie S, July 5, 2018 at 7:55 am

There are two parts to your question: One regarding the inflammation and the other about your seat. It looks like you’ve gotten some good advice regarding the first, so I’ll just comment on the second.

My recommendation is to at least try a suspension-type saddle. One response mentioned the Brooks B17. It’s a heavy but very comfortable saddle and one I’ve used extensively. The drawback is that it requires a significant amount of breaking in. With RAGBRAI only a bit over two weeks away, you’d barely have the time needed but since your condition precludes riding – well, you get the point.

The Anatomica X is similar in comfort to the Brooks, maybe even better. I’ve been riding one for two years now and for me, it is the most comfortable saddle I’ve ever been in. The manufacturer says that it does not need any breaking in but I can tell you from experience, that’s not quite true. Break-in for the Anatomica is minimal though, maybe 50 or 100 miles, about the same period needed to get it adjusted properly. Unlike the Brooks, it’s not waterproof, so you need to pay a bit more attention to it. That’s a minor drawback in my view.

Hope you decided to do RAGBRAI and best of luck.


Josh Wiley, July 5, 2018 at 8:32 am

Im not a doctor but I play one at parties, and Ive seen a lot of butts. I have nothing more to add, but good luck.


John Conway, July 5, 2018 at 9:59 am

Hey John Conway,

I’m John R. Conway, jr! AKA Farmer John. Originally from Melrose, Iowa. Farmed near Wellman, Iowa for last 45 year. Coming up on my 33rd year on Ragbrai! Hoping things work out for you.

Good Luck,
Farmer John


Sunny Carithers, July 6, 2018 at 3:26 am

Team Sunshine is looking for a driver for our motorhome. If you’re unable to ride, maybe you still want to partake in the festivities?
If so, let me know ??‍♀️☀️


John Conway, July 6, 2018 at 12:33 pm

Due to some strange (and un-related) events, my bursitis has Evolved into a broken collar bone. No RAGBRAI for me, this year. But 2019, here I come. This also means that a seat is available with a great team of riders. Contact Randy with team Hill’s Angels @ 513-706-1431 for details.


Lodie, July 6, 2018 at 3:40 pm

This was just not meant to be. For 2019, recommend doing some sort of ritual (exocism, voodoo, whatever) prior to registration. :)


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