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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 09-19-09, 05:20 PM   #1
Fuzzo84
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My first 40 mile ride. FAIL

So I set out for my longest and most aggressive ride to date this morning, typically I have been riding in the afternoons for 20 miles or so (I only started road cycling about 6 weeks ago). It was a nice cool, sunny morning just a little windy which really killed me on one stretch on a main road. I was feeling great and riding strong through mile 18 when all the sudden the left side of my back was in excruciating pain. From the middle back up to my arm pit was killing with each breath and bump. I had to take a ten minute rest, but the back wasn't feeling any better so I decided to just tough through it and make my way home. I rode ten more miles home and had to have the girlfriend put the bike in the basement when I got back. It hurt for about a half hour so I laid on my back on the floor until it felt good enough to take a shower. It has now been about 7 hours since my ride and I am feeling much better just a little twinge in the lower back, no biggie.

Has anyone else experienced this when riding? I think it must have been a spasam or cramp or something. If it were a pulled muscle or something with the spine it would definately not be feeling any better this soon.
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Old 09-19-09, 06:39 PM   #2
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How was your hydration, and what is the color of your urine output? You may also want to have a urine protein level checked. A rider I know had similar pain and it turned out to be a small kidney stone.
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Old 09-19-09, 06:42 PM   #3
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Time to see a doctor.
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Old 09-19-09, 09:12 PM   #4
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So I set out for my longest and most aggressive ride to date this morning, typically I have been riding in the afternoons for 20 miles or so (I only started road cycling about 6 weeks ago). It was a nice cool, sunny morning just a little windy which really killed me on one stretch on a main road. I was feeling great and riding strong through mile 18 when all the sudden the left side of my back was in excruciating pain. From the middle back up to my arm pit was killing with each breath and bump. I had to take a ten minute rest, but the back wasn't feeling any better so I decided to just tough through it and make my way home. I rode ten more miles home and had to have the girlfriend put the bike in the basement when I got back. It hurt for about a half hour so I laid on my back on the floor until it felt good enough to take a shower. It has now been about 7 hours since my ride and I am feeling much better just a little twinge in the lower back, no biggie.

Has anyone else experienced this when riding? I think it must have been a spasm or cramp or something. If it were a pulled muscle or something with the spine it would definately not be feeling any better this soon.
First of all, the word "fail" doesn't apply here. Please don't use it.

Secondly, as to the source of the problem, my guesses are:

1. - your bike isn't fitted properly.

2. You are getting adjusted to a new fit.

3 . - See my first guess.

It's a new bike for you, and you were riding under more demands than you normally face. Perhaps the bike isn't fitted properly, or your body is getting used to the new fit. Some folks, like me, take a long and painful time to get used to fit changes on the bike. When I attempted a century on my new flat bar road bike in 2007, I had back pain just as you described. Sometimes even an "improved" bike fit will give you pain until you adjust to it.
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Old 09-20-09, 03:46 AM   #5
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Ya, there is no fail in any ride. There's always a success somewhere if you can look for it. For example, the 52.5 miler I mentioned a bit ago wasn't the distance (or how) I intended for a couple of reasons, but it's still a victory in a number of ways. And even if you don't do things quite right, they highlight lessons that you need to learn for the next ride (or equipment you need in my case).
There are always positives!
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Old 09-20-09, 12:01 PM   #6
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I second a possible kidney stone. I had one a few years ago and it felt like a knife in the back, and higher than I would have thought. Especially if it happens again, you probably want to see a doctor *before* the pain forces you to the emergency room. For me it was about a week from first pain to "I need to go to the emergency room" level pain. If you're lucky it will pass on its own; if not, they'll have to go get it.
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Old 09-20-09, 12:32 PM   #7
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Another possible issue is fuel related. I have had a similar experience when my muscle glycogen had run out and my liver was forced to start overworking for fuel. if this reoccurs and you are sure you are well hydrated and well fed seek help from lbs and/or Dr.
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Old 09-20-09, 01:30 PM   #8
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I second all of the above...

If you've changed your position at all, it's quite possible to get some real pain.

But if not, and the pain was that bad...that's odd and I'd get it checked.

-spence
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Old 09-21-09, 06:45 AM   #9
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Oooh Kidney stone huh? Well I don't really like the sound of that. I will definately have to to some more research and potentially talk to the doctor about it. And yea I did notice that my post ride pee was smelly, not so much the color. I remember remarking to a buddy of mine, "hey it smells like vegetables."

This is my first road bike and therefore my first fit. I have experienced zero problems prior to this, no pain at all outside of sore muscles of course.

I didn't really feel dehydrated at all and I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast just before the ride. Physically I felt fine up until the back pain hit.

I did have a back issue in June due to inflamed discs in my lower back, but it was a different feel and different location of the pain.

As far as the use of the word "fail" I have to respectfully disagree with The Historian and Glenn. I think that it is completely applicable in the way I used it seeing how I failed to meet my goal of 40 miles. However, I agree that much can be learned in failure and the true failure would be if I were to learn/take away nothing from my ride or even worse give up all together.

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."
~ Henry Ford
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Old 09-21-09, 06:53 AM   #10
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As far as the use of the word "fail" I have to respectfully disagree with The Historian and Glenn. I think that it is completely applicable in the way I used it seeing how I failed to meet my goal of 40 miles. However, I agree that much can be learned in failure and the true failure would be if I were to learn/take away nothing from my ride or even worse give up all together.

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."
~ Henry Ford
With all due respect to you and Mr. Ford, I disagree. If I thought not meeting my goals was failure, I'd have hung up the Lycra long ago.
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Old 09-21-09, 07:10 AM   #11
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With all due respect to you and Mr. Ford, I disagree. If I thought not meeting my goals was failure, I'd have hung up the Lycra long ago.
But then what is the point of having a goal if there is not success/failure benchmark to measure against. How do you continue to challenge yourself if you can not measure your progress?

And if in fact you do fail at first to meet your goal, does it not make your more determined on accomplishing that predetermined goal and then leave you felling all the more fulfilled in conquering the task which was a legitamate challenge?
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Old 09-21-09, 07:35 AM   #12
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Oooh Kidney stone huh? Well I don't really like the sound of that. I will definately have to to some more research and potentially talk to the doctor about it. And yea I did notice that my post ride pee was smelly, not so much the color. I remember remarking to a buddy of mine, "hey it smells like vegetables."

This is my first road bike and therefore my first fit. I have experienced zero problems prior to this, no pain at all outside of sore muscles of course.

I didn't really feel dehydrated at all and I had a bagel with cream cheese for breakfast just before the ride. Physically I felt fine up until the back pain hit.

I did have a back issue in June due to inflamed discs in my lower back, but it was a different feel and different location of the pain.

As far as the use of the word "fail" I have to respectfully disagree with The Historian and Glenn. I think that it is completely applicable in the way I used it seeing how I failed to meet my goal of 40 miles. However, I agree that much can be learned in failure and the true failure would be if I were to learn/take away nothing from my ride or even worse give up all together.

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely."
~ Henry Ford
I didn't really feel dehydrated at all Not saying your were dehydrated, but at the time you cannot 'feel' dehydration. Kidneys will deplete and the walls will touch causing blood in the urine. If no blood in the urine, but if you produce dark yellow color you are dehydrated. I have been there and it is not something to take lightly. Living where I do the humidity levels are always high and combining that with the summer temperatures it does not take much to get dehydrated. You will never be able to replace 100% of fluids lost even if you drink the whole ride. A nice light yellow to clear urine color is a good sign that things are back to normal.
As was said above....there is no FAIL on a ride. FAIL is deciding to sit your butt on a couch eating chips rather than hopping on the bike for a ride of any distance. I have been there too.
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Old 09-21-09, 09:03 AM   #13
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But then what is the point of having a goal if there is not success/failure benchmark to measure against. How do you continue to challenge yourself if you can not measure your progress?

And if in fact you do fail at first to meet your goal, does it not make your more determined on accomplishing that predetermined goal and then leave you felling all the more fulfilled in conquering the task which was a legitamate challenge?
My goal is to get my weight down and my stamina up to the point I can do what I want without meeting some 'challenge', legitimate or not. Aside from learning to ride ( an ongoing process), I have no mileage "challenge." I admit I once bought into that thinking, but I was a novice rider and impressionable.

A ride is as good or bad as you think it. If you want to think riding 26 miles in considerable discomfort is a "failure", go right ahead. But I don't see a failure, I see a tough guy trying to make the best of it.

BTW, in my first year of riding, I "failed" my first century attempt because I had back spasms as a result of adjusting to a new fit on my bike. My "failure" turned into a metric century, and in retrospect it was one of my best rides. I discovered I was tough.
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Old 09-21-09, 10:45 AM   #14
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I think we mostly agree here. It was clearly not a global failure because; I was out there riding, I got some decent milage in, I was able to tough it out and get back home on my own, and I learned things about the road I'm riding, the bike I'm riding, and my self when riding. However I did fail to reach my initial goal of 40 miles, but that is ok because it just makes me more determined to get back on the bike and get those miles and even more after that.

To Gapwedge. No blood or red color in urine, that would have definately been a red flag. I am going to get back out there this evening after work and see how I feel. If the pain comes back then I am going to have to give the doctor a call, I suppose.

Thank you all for your helpful words and suggestions. And of course the good debate
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Old 09-21-09, 11:23 AM   #15
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Make sure to take electrolytes every 30 min with about a bottle of water. If that doesn't cure it, then it is probably your fit or health issues. I like the pills instead of the sugar water (gatorade...) electrolytes.
Good luck, I hope it gets better.
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Old 09-21-09, 06:42 PM   #16
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As far as the use of the word "fail" I have to respectfully disagree with The Historian and Glenn. I think that it is completely applicable in the way I used it seeing how I failed to meet my goal of 40 miles.
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But then what is the point of having a goal if there is not success/failure benchmark to measure against. How do you continue to challenge yourself if you can not measure your progress?
Maybe you aren't to the point of learning this yet (only a guess by Aug 2009 join date & 12 posts), but much of riding or any physical activity involves mental attitude. If I beat myself up over my perceived failures or lack of meeting my goals, then I'm going to disappoint myself into not doing it again. And trust me, I've had plenty opportunity to do just that. Not progressing fast enough. Too slow. Not riding far enough. Getting lost. Not being able to climb up hills. Having to stop at every hill (when I started) when I had to stop for being gassed out too hard. Needing picked up because I pushed myself too hard or stayed out longer than I thought (past dark). I could fill this forum with such stories, as can everyone else that has come here and has persisted with the bike riding long enough. But notice that most in this forum aren't doing that. In fact, if I only fixated on my "failures" in my rides, I wouldn't even have an enjoyable ride, and would be out of bike riding for good.

Learn to start looking for positives and victories in everything you do, or you're going to discourage yourself right out of doing what you're doing. And there's plenty of those. I (and everyone else that's continued longer than just a month or two) could fill the forum up with these as well. Obviously we don't choose to tell all of them (I haven't), but notice the choice that people are making. They may mention goals (we all have them), but they aren't fixated on them to the point that it drowns out the positives and victories. And yes, meeting goals can be one of those victories.

As for me, I realize it's a huge amount of grace (as it is for anyone) to be able to go out the door, go whatever the distance involved, handle any terrain put in front of me at any time (that's been my only real "goal", other than a few "like-tos" that have stuck into my mind), and return safely (traffic, dogs, whatever). I'm thankful that I get to do what I do. Truthfully, the only thing that does get me down is not being able to ride for whatever reason.

Notice the tone of what's been posted in this thread:

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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
With all due respect to you and Mr. Ford, I disagree. If I thought not meeting my goals was failure, I'd have hung up the Lycra long ago.
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As was said above....there is no FAIL on a ride. FAIL is deciding to sit your butt on a couch eating chips rather than hopping on the bike for a ride of any distance.
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Originally Posted by The Historian View Post
My goal is to get my weight down and my stamina up to the point I can do what I want without meeting some 'challenge', legitimate or not.

A ride is as good or bad as you think it. If you want to think riding 26 miles in considerable discomfort is a "failure", go right ahead. But I don't see a failure, I see a tough guy trying to make the best of it.

BTW, in my first year of riding, I "failed" my first century attempt because I had back spasms as a result of adjusting to a new fit on my bike. My "failure" turned into a metric century, and in retrospect it was one of my best rides. I discovered I was tough.
If you're going to fixate on quotes regarding failure, I'd rather go with these:
"I haven't failed, I've found 10,000 ways that don't work" - Thomas Edison

..."I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will
work."
- Thomas Edison
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Old 09-21-09, 08:25 PM   #17
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The only perspective of fail / succeed is that of the OP. His goal was 40, he sustained some manner of injury, bailed out, and very plainly defined it as a fail.

Advice to go to the doctor is sound here I believe. Hopefully just a strain or cramp. Play it safe.

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Old 09-22-09, 08:45 AM   #18
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Thanks, trek. Initially I only meant that my specific goal of reaching 40 miles on that particular day was not met, constituting a singular failure. Since then this thread has been somewhat side tracked into a discussion on the word and it's connotation for others.

I understand what you all are trying to say, but if I did not acknowledge the word fail in cycling and went about only focusing on the positives then it would only make me complaisant in my rides and satisfied with anything. I am trying to push towards improving not only my physical fitness and well being but my endurance, distance, speed, etc. I know these will come as long as I continue to ride and so acknowledging a particular failure does not dissuade me from pursuing the greater goal (being more active and fit) or even the same goal in which I initially did not meet (the 40 miles).

Just because we have different outlooks on setting/meeting goals, motivation to excersise, assessing a workout, and even the meaning of the word failure does not mean that one is wrong and the other is right. The important thing is that we all keep jumping on the two wheeled stalion and working towards whatever it is we have desired. I do not focus on the failure as a reason to quit, but as a reason to work harder and get that 40, 50, 100+ miles.
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Old 09-22-09, 01:32 PM   #19
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I never think of it as failure - I always think of it as experience. Did a mountain bike ride with friends on Sunday and 1 1/2 miles from the top I had to turn around. I could have beaten myself up for quitting but then I realize 1) I listened to what my body was trying to tell me - it was hot and I was getting dehydrated and 2) I had traveled 8 miles up a consistantly 6 - 10% grade which is 5 miles further than last time. I was close so I know next time I will make it. I still got a good workout on what turned out to be a hot, smoggy day. Experience, something I will know for next time!
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Old 09-22-09, 01:36 PM   #20
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Very well said Fuzzo. I didn't see it an anything but smart actually. You had pain and you wisely took care of yourself to live to fight another day. Some years ago I looked like this:



And by doing EXACTLY what you said in your above post I now look like this:



To get what you want you have to push and falling short is falling short. So you work harder. And there are certainly setbacks along the way.

Your attitude is right on the money and will carry you to where you want to be.

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Old 09-22-09, 01:55 PM   #21
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lookin' good trek, nice work.

I think all it really comes down to is a different mind set between different people. Different strokes to rule the world right?
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Old 09-22-09, 02:16 PM   #22
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I think all it really comes down to is a different mind set between different people. Different strokes to rule the world right?

You betcha. I think that there has to be some yardstick or goal to have. This is what works for me anyway. And the goal doesn't have to be "century" or "marathon". A good goal is 5 lbs. by X date, or "I'm going to run every morning this week".

Everybody is different though, no doubt. But in the end, hard work pays off. I didn't get where I am by just riding a bike, or just running. I did it in conjunction with a safe diet and by counting calories.

Keep kicking butt.

John
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Old 09-22-09, 05:02 PM   #23
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I did have a back issue in June due to inflamed discs in my lower back, but it was a different feel and different location of the pain.
This also sounds like it could be a core strength issue. The pain you describe sounds like a muscle spasm or cramp (possibly due to dehydration, possibly due to lack of core strength).
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Old 09-23-09, 08:09 AM   #24
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I had similar pains when i first started and still do from time to time. my core strength is not where it needs to be and if i ride 10-15 miles more than i am used to i get real sharp pains in my shoulders and mid back.
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