Biking in the Midwest

tour of grandview

Tour of Grandview Criterium

It’s mid July and the Tour de France is heading into the home stretch, but here in the Middle of America, biking events are heating up.  The famed Ragbrai–a traverse across the state of Iowa–begins in a week. The Hotter’N Hell Hundred Endurance Ride (a hundred mile ride during a month where the average daily high is 96 F) takes place in Wichita Falls on August 24…..

I’ve lived across the USA and across the world, but I’m a native Midwesterner, and proud of that fact:  born in Iowa, secondary school in Michigan, now rearing my children in Ohio.  I don’t know if many people realize what a ‘big deal’ long distance bike riding is here in the American Heartland.  The region has come a long way since the days of the movie  “Breaking Away,” the plot of which turns on the idea that an Indiana high schooler’s  devotion to long distance biking is quirky, and foreign; that in the 70’s a word like “Campagnolo” would be more apt to be identified as a pasta than a bicycle parts maker.

The Tour of Grandview and The Great Ohio Bicycle Adventure (GOBA) are just two of these festivals of Midwestern, mid-summer biking, both taking place in Central Ohio.  And I have the privilege of knowing and working with the Medical Director of both:  Dr. Tom Pommering.  I asked him to do a guest blog on his adventures in June covering the 25th annual GOBA, and the following is his report!


Thomas L. Pommering, DO, FAAFP

with ice dr p

Dr. Tom Pommering enjoys the ice after an ‘optional’ 100 mile ride. Cool down, then time to get to the medical tent to care of some riders.

GOBA is a week-long bicycling tour that brings up to 3000 cyclists, ages 2-90, from 40 states and several countries on a daily 50 mile ride through the peaceful countryside of Ohio.   With such a large and diverse group of people performing this daily strenuous activity, there exists a need for a unique medical system to support this group for a week.  For almost 20 years, I have had the privilege of directing the GOBA Medical System.  There are many logistical challenges to providing medical coverage to a large participant group that is traveling to a different venue each day while being exposed to the elements, environment and each other.  Here are a few pointers I’d like to share with anyone else who may be tasked with this responsibility. Read more of this post

Public Health and Sports Medicine


San Diego at night

I am in the Columbus airport on my way to San Diego for the AMSSM Meeting and I’m excited. OK, truth:  I’m on the ground in Columbus and ‘weather’ is preventing our flight taking off to Chicago, where I will, in theory, get my connecting flight to San Diego. And that’s not too exciting.

But, the meeting:  the research abstracts to be presented at the meeting look great, and I’ll be blogging about the event more in the next several days (if I make it there………)

My mind is still thinking of the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon three days ago, and I am looking forward to the London Marathon this weekend, which I hope goes off without a hitch.  I continue to read stories of the heroism of the Boston medical community, from the professionals in the finish line medical tent to the nearby hospitals, where the trauma was nearly overwhelming.  And I have read sobering stories, from the litany of terrorist events that have impacted sport to the analyses that suggest planning for marathons, the ‘most democratic of sporting events,’ may be irrevocably changed.

Many of us in sports medicine are involved in on-site game coverage, including the coverage of mass events, and the roles we play in these venues are, indisputably, exceedingly important.  For some of us, this is our core professional mission.  For me, it is a secondary role.  Most of my days and evenings are spent in clinic, seeing patients referred to me, or teaching students and trainees, or in pursuing medical research.  Nights and weekends will then find me at times covering a basketball or American football game at Bexley High School or Ohio Dominican University.  Over the years I have found myself covering mass events in the medical tents at the Big Sur Marathon, San Jose Half Marathon, the Big Kahuna Triathlon, local wrestling tournaments, and the Boston Marathon.

The Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine has published articles in the recent past on mass event coverage and prevention of illness in athletes, and I commend them to you for your consideration. Read more of this post

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