Recently broken foot – Riding advice needed

Hi all,

A week ago today I broke my foot falling down the stairs at the Tower of London. :) Great story, terrible timing! I’ve waited for years to do RAGBRAI. Idaho is my home now. Iowa (Fairfield) is where I’m from. And it’s my 40th class reunion the weekend after the ride. So, no way I’m not going to at least TRY to do this ride!

My question is… Anyone got any advice for riding after a recently broken bone? Any way to make it a little easier on the foot? I broke the 5th metatarsal on my left foot. Maybe an ebike is the answer?

13 Replies

hnschipper, June 10, 2019 at 2:25 pm

I rode a few years ago with a broken thumb, with approval from my surgeon. Have you talked to your doctor? I have no advice for a broken foot. I hope you’re able to ride!


Vicque Ebentheuer, June 10, 2019 at 3:24 pm

I have talked to my doctor. He didn’t rule it out. Said it was aggressive and the next 6 weeks would tell. He gave me training exercises to do with my right leg to help compensate for the left leg when I can ride again. I’m non weight bearing for the next couple of weeks.

I go back for a second set of xrays next week. Right now I’m just looking for as much information as I can gather from anyone who’s experienced with both RAGBRAI and broken feet.


jwsknk, June 10, 2019 at 3:28 pm

so about 6 1/2 weeks healing time before RAGBRAI, In a cast now or a boot? See what the doctor has to say. at least bike shoes or sandals are stiff soled for riding. the walking through towns and around at night might be a different issue. I may have broken a toe a day before one year, stupid bed jumped out at me. Could ride fine, walking was bad. First day stopped at the UofI mobile medical truck, he looked at it and just taped three together. stopped again I think Wednesday and they cut some broken toe nail off and retaped.


Vicque Ebentheuer, June 10, 2019 at 8:46 pm

In a boot. Good point about walking through towns. Thanks!


SFC JKL 2, June 10, 2019 at 11:06 pm

I’m going with Skunk on this one. You have a lot of time for healing before then. If anything, walking will be harder than riding the bike. A good set of cycling shoes has a sole similar to the walking shoes you wear for rehab. I had ankle surgery and put on hundreds of miles in a walking boot. I just used a regular pedal, but I have seen people bolt clips to the bottom of them.


mootsman, June 11, 2019 at 8:09 am

There are so many bones in the foot it depends on which bone. And on if the bone was naturally lined up correctly ot needed surgery. Assuming no surgery: But RAGBRAI is far enough out you should be fine. It also depends on the shoes you use for riding. Clip in cycling shoes all have a rock hard soles which would be a good thing. If you use road clip ins they are tough to walk in. Get cleat covers which make them pretty walk-able. And loose the boot asap. If it is needed it really is only needed for 2-3 weeks max. Be more concerned about getting enough miles in for training. While I’m not a doc I have had lots of experience with healing from broken bones, a bit over 15 at last count including a broken foot. Last time they put me in a boot I lasted all about 3 hours in it before I kicked it off.


Larry Klaaren, June 11, 2019 at 12:08 pm

You should talk to your doctor now, if you have not done so already and find out what kind of stabilization he/she would like to see for that metatarsal if you are planning on using that foot all week and if they would like to check that foot just before you leave to see if there is a union happening.


Brian Pentony, June 11, 2019 at 12:35 pm

I incurred a “Dancers Fracture” years ago twisting my foot running across the street. 5th Metatarsal Granted it wasn’t a full break. Hurt like an SOB when I did it but the pain subsided pretty quickly and healing took about 4-6 weeks. I’m thinking you should see some significant progress over the next few weeks and pain will reduce once swelling subsides.

My suggestion is that you should get your bike shoes on as soon as you get out of your boot to make sure they there are no “pressure points” in your shoes that will suddenly become uncomfortable over time, especially along the outside area of your foot. Not much you can do mid-ride to alleviate that.

If your shoe feels good, then the other test would be a standing climb in the event of a short hill. That’s additional pressure you’re going to need to account for. Otherwise, the mostly tranquil pace of the RAGBRAI route should not be too demanding on your foot, and you get to rest 4-5 times a day.

Last, I think everyone in this thread really wants to see you get out there and enjoy this ride as pain free and comfortable as possible!! Good luck with your recovery and very much hope to see you out there in just about 6 weeks!!


Vicque Ebentheuer, June 11, 2019 at 12:43 pm

Wow! These posts have been exactly what I was looking for and so helpful. Thank you. I’m grateful for the advice and encouragement. Can’t wait to ride my first RAGBRAI!


Nico ZZZ, June 11, 2019 at 4:31 pm

I missed 2015 with a severe ankle break (9 screws and 1 plate). In a boot for 8 months, no walking or weight at all on it during those months. `I was able to move about the house on a knee scooter. I was determined to make RAGBRAI 2016 (broke it in April 2015), so since I couldn’t do much about the ankle for all those months, I focused on all other parts of the body to exercise. Laying/sitting on my couch all those months I would do crunches, lift weights, exercise bands and do all sorts of leg lifts. I also adjusted my diet with more fruits and vitamins and supplements, etc. When I finally was able to start walking the rest of my body took care of the weak right leg and I recovered faster. Physical training for 10 months (told the team to push me hard, and they ALL knew about this strange ride I was gunning for up in Iowa called “RAGBRAI”), then personal trainer for 4 months. Got in only about 400 miles on the bike, but my personal trainer Ali had gotten me into better physical shape (outside of the bum right ankle) than I had been the year before with over 1,000 miles on the bike.
I loosened the heck out of my clips, as it hurt to turn and release, and when off the bike I used a compression wrap on the ankle in camp, and massaged the heck out of that ankle at the end of every day. I did experience jolting pain on occasion when rolling across bridges and railroad tracks, but I made it to Iowa, and did all seven days.
Every year I meet someone who is making a “comeback” ride from some injury or illness. RAGBRAI is a great motivator.
Workout whatever you can and however you can during this recovery of your foot.
Ride On!


Bob Card, June 18, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Hi Vicque,

I incurred a stress fracture of the 5th metatarsal last year, a little further out from the start of RAGBRAI. I could not train as much as I’d hoped, but by the time I found myself assembling my bike in Onawa, I was able to ride as much as I liked. As others have noted, walking any significant distance was still something of a challenge but the stiff soles of my cycling shoes helped me rock the days’ rides.

Don’t overdo it, you’re better off losing a little conditioning than re-injuring the foot. Also, enjoy your week in the corn!



Wendy Albrecht, June 20, 2019 at 6:26 pm

I broke my arm/wrist on May 30th of 2017. Yikes! My surgeon said no way. I said yes way and ended up riding a recumbent with a brace. Where there is a glimmer of hope and a seed of determination, you will find a way. :)


LawnchairMan, June 22, 2019 at 6:17 pm

Hi Vicque,
Only one thing I can add to the great advice above. You can actually ride a bike one footed if you clip-in that foot. 400 miles one footed would be a feat. (pun intended) Instead you could pedal more with the clipped-in foot and baby your injured foot. Mentioned above was the possible pain in clipping out your injured foot. So, you could go with standard or clipped pedal for the injured foot.
Pedals don’t have to match!
Wish you a speedy recovery, and hope to see you in Iowa!


The forum ‘RAGBRAI XLVII – 2019’ is closed to new topics and replies.





Gatherings & Meetings

Lost and Found


Clubs, Teams & Charters

Friends of RAGBRAI