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  1. #1
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Fit, age, weight, saddles, pain, ...

    I took my first longer ride on my road bike after about 15 years away from it. (I have taken a couple of shorter rides, i.e. 10-15 miles, but Saturday was the first longer ride.) I've taken longish rides on my hybrid, and there were no issues. Saturday was torture after the first couple of hours - If I hadn't been using Look pedals and wearing cleats that made it impossible to walk, I might have considered carrying the bike the last 10 miles home on my back!

    And the after effects! (I'm still sitting on the edge of my desk chair, and there was also a decided impact on "other activities" that we won't go into. Suffice to say that if I have to choose between the bike and those activities, well ... there'd be a road bike on CL so fast it'd make your head spin.)

    The thing is, that saddle was one I'd arrived at after trying more than half a dozen others, and I used to be able to ride it for hours and hours without any issues back in the day. Is it just a matter of toughening up? On the other hand, I am about 35 lbs heavier now than when I used to ride that bike/saddle regularly, and am 15 years less flexible. Does weight and age/flexibility factor into what makes a saddle work for you, maybe because you "hit" it differently?

    The saddle woes were just part of the pain. I hadn't ridden with those pedals much - maybe a few hundred miles - before I gave up riding for 14 years, and I did experience pretty nasty knee pain with them on Saturday. I've never experienced knee pain on a bicycle before. Is this common when switching to clipless pedals?

    Finally, there was the neck pain - I have had a number of neck issues since I used to ride that bike, including some stenosis and arthritis. Riding with the handlebars lower than the seat was very painful, even with my helmet pulled all the way back. There was too much traffic to just space out and look at the ground in front of the wheel..

    All of these problems were from a bike that used to fit me like a second skin. Does anyone have any suggestions/ideas they'd like to share? Do I just need to tough it out and hope the pain goes away, or are there exercise, reconfigurations, etc that others have found to help?

    I've decided to spring for a professional fitting. Hopefully I find a solution, otherwise the road bike goes into retirement and I'll just ride my hybrid.

    BTW - aside from the pain, the ride was awesome, and I was really happy that, after losing 40 lbs, I can now climb some of the hills that I was afraid to even attempt a few months ago. So, even if I need to give up this bicycle (or make it a lot less roadie-ish), it was a win.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  2. #2
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    It's been fifteen years and you are 35lbs heavier. You can't manage the position that you used to find comfortable. That isn't surprising. Getting advice on fitting is a good idea.

    And if the saddle used to be fine, then your difficulty with it is probably more a fit problem than a saddle problem. Two things occur to me:

    1. You used to be able to manage a longer reach than is now comfortable for you. So in order to reach the bars you are moving your weight forward onto the narrow part of the saddle, and the pressure is being transferred from your sit bones to your crotch. Not good, as you have discovered. Cuts off blood supply, squeezes nerves, not a recipe for marital happiness. Saddle needs moving forward closer to the bars.
    2. You got tired. As you get tired you tend to lose posture, and your legs bear less of your weight. you therefore "settle in" to the saddle, you start sitting in it rather than on it. Results as described above.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  3. #3
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chasm54 View Post
    It's been fifteen years and you are 35lbs heavier. You can't manage the position that you used to find comfortable. That isn't surprising. Getting advice on fitting is a good idea.

    And if the saddle used to be fine, then your difficulty with it is probably more a fit problem than a saddle problem. Two things occur to me:

    1. You used to be able to manage a longer reach than is now comfortable for you. So in order to reach the bars you are moving your weight forward onto the narrow part of the saddle, and the pressure is being transferred from your sit bones to your crotch. Not good, as you have discovered. Cuts off blood supply, squeezes nerves, not a recipe for marital happiness. Saddle needs moving forward closer to the bars.
    2. You got tired. As you get tired you tend to lose posture, and your legs bear less of your weight. you therefore "settle in" to the saddle, you start sitting in it rather than on it. Results as described above.
    What you say makes a lot of sense. The first step will be to get fit to this bike again.
    L'asino di Buridano...

  4. #4
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    This is what I'm doing and this is the internet so take it as you will:

    I've been working on getting lower on my roadbike. Bending arms more, riding longer in the drops. I've had to adjust the nose of the saddle down more and raise it higher as I've done this. Neck and shoulder pain I've reduced sustantially by working on my latissimus muscles to pull my shoulders back. On longer rides I'll catch myself slipping back to the old ways. When I pull my shoulders back I get pretty quick relief of the pain.

  5. #5
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jethro56 View Post
    This is what I'm doing and this is the internet so take it as you will:

    I've been working on getting lower on my roadbike. Bending arms more, riding longer in the drops. I've had to adjust the nose of the saddle down more and raise it higher as I've done this. Neck and shoulder pain I've reduced sustantially by working on my latissimus muscles to pull my shoulders back. On longer rides I'll catch myself slipping back to the old ways. When I pull my shoulders back I get pretty quick relief of the pain.
    I know it's the internet, but I appreciate you taking the time to answer. I think a lot of us face similar issues, and one of the reasons we have this group is to give and get help.

    I have developed "neck issues" over the last 10 years, specifically some stenosis and arthritic changes, plus two badly incompletely healed rotator cuff tears (both shoulders). I've adjusted all my other bikes to permit a more upright posture, but I mostly did that to accommodate my belly. I've lost 40 lbs since the beginning of the year, and I thought I was getting more comfortable lower - that's certainly been true on my other bikes. But this one is set up for a pretty aggressive position, and I guess I'm not ready for it - may never be.

    I'm also concerned about the knee pain. Is this common when you start using clipless pedals? I don't remember experiencing it years ago...
    L'asino di Buridano...

  6. #6
    Travelling hopefully chasm54's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post

    I'm also concerned about the knee pain. Is this common when you start using clipless pedals? I don't remember experiencing it years ago...
    It shouldn't be specifically a clipless issue. However, going clipless does require that you set yourself up to be in what is, for you, the optimum position on the pedals. It is possible that your saddle position means your knee is too far ahead of, or behind, the pedal. Alternatively the position of the cleat on your shoe may need adjusting - there's usually a range of positions, and in my experience many people have them too far forward, and end up pedalling too much on their toes. But this is exactly the sort of issue you need to take up with your fitter, it is impossible to advise you without seeing you on the bike.
    There have been many days when I haven't felt like riding, but there has never been a day when I was sorry I rode.

  7. #7
    Watching and waiting. jethro56's Avatar
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    I kinda screwed up that answer I meant to say trapazoid and deltoid muscles. Shouldn't try to write SQL statements while posting. With your shoulder injuries disregard the first post please!

    I'm using spd's pedals and they allow enough float so that it's been a really good experience so far. I had to raise the saddle when I did this as the MTD shoes have a much thicker sole than what I was using on the platform pedals. I have about 1000 miles in since I switched and only one zero speed fall.

  8. #8
    SuperGimp TrojanHorse's Avatar
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    another comfort tip for you to try when riding low on the bars is to rotate your hips forward and flatten your back. That may put more unwelcome pressure on your man bits, or maybe not, it's up to you to try. I find that I can hold a "lower" position much longer that way, as opposed to the hunchbacked approach I used to take.

    Other than that, evaluate your saddle height as a start. You can flip through this website if you're bored... it has some good stuff in there. http://www.cptips.com/knee.htm

  9. #9
    Senior Member jr59's Avatar
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    What kind of clipless pedals? How much float do they give you.

    You can't really think that you could ride like you did 14 years ago, do you?
    Your body changes all the time. It will change as you get in better riding shape.

    I think you should spend the cash and get fit/looked at on the bike, at least that will give you a starting point.

    I also agree that your overall lack of fitness played a major part in this.
    I end to think that you may have gotten tired and tried to push to great of gear to get home.
    Not meaning to, just happens to most of us a time or two.
    I would say not to try to bite off so much next time.

    The difference between riding a "road bike" and riding upright can be a huge one.
    Both in how you sit on a bike and how much you use your core to ride it.

    Don't give up on it, it just takes time.
    Gravity hates us all, but it hates me more than thin people!

  10. #10
    Senior Member tony_merlino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jr59 View Post
    What kind of clipless pedals? How much float do they give you.

    You can't really think that you could ride like you did 14 years ago, do you?
    Your body changes all the time. It will change as you get in better riding shape.

    I think you should spend the cash and get fit/looked at on the bike, at least that will give you a starting point.

    I also agree that your overall lack of fitness played a major part in this.
    I end to think that you may have gotten tired and tried to push to great of gear to get home.
    Not meaning to, just happens to most of us a time or two.
    I would say not to try to bite off so much next time.

    The difference between riding a "road bike" and riding upright can be a huge one.
    Both in how you sit on a bike and how much you use your core to ride it.

    Don't give up on it, it just takes time.
    They're Look pedals, about 14 years old if that means anything. The thing about the ride is that, while the terrain was a bit more challenging than I've been riding until now, the distance was only about 6 miles longer than the rides I have been taking on my hybrid, which is why I didn't think there'd be an issue.

    It's true that the ride was fairly fatiguing, and that probably factored into things - but I wasn't THAT tired. And I did maintain my cadence, I think. (Though I hadn't ridden in a long time before I started doing it again, I rode enough back in the day that spinning is still second nature. You never forget to do it - it's like ... riding a bicycle )

    The pain in the knees seemed to be related to the pedals - it started before I got tired, and seemed like the bike was forcing my knees into an unnatural position. I'm going to make the appointment for the fitting tomorrow.


    Thanks everyone!
    L'asino di Buridano...

  11. #11
    Senior Member goldfinch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tony_merlino View Post

    I have developed "neck issues" over the last 10 years, specifically some stenosis and arthritic changes, plus two badly incompletely healed rotator cuff tears (both shoulders). I've adjusted all my other bikes to permit a more upright posture, but I mostly did that to accommodate my belly. I've lost 40 lbs since the beginning of the year, and I thought I was getting more comfortable lower - that's certainly been true on my other bikes. But this one is set up for a pretty aggressive position, and I guess I'm not ready for it - may never be.
    I have exactly the same structural issues. Stenosis and arthritis in the cervical spine. An old rotator cuff injury in the left shoulder. Last summer I had so many problems riding distances that I ended up going to a physical therapist. I do several different sets of exercises. I have ones specifically for the neck. One simple one is put your hands on a desk or table like you are going to do a push up off the table. But instead of doing a pushup where you bend your elbows, do the same motion without bending your elbows. Here is a guy doing it off of the floor, instead of a table: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pzgrw6clIG4 I can actually do a form of this while I am riding the bike, it helps keep me loose.

    Shoulder shrugs are also good. You can use weights when doing the shrugs.

    Here is a good set of stretches for the neck and shoulders: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhflO...eature=related

    I also do various exercises to help with the little muscles that make up the rotator cuff. I do several of these: http://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/r...ion-exercises#

    I also do core exercises, like planks and bridges. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/core-strength/SM00047

    It has made a world of a difference in my ride quality.

    I think that it was important for me to work with a physical therapist. He helped figure out the best exercises for me. Some were out (most which involved stretching the neck by putting your head back or down) because they would make my fingers go numb. I also do not have a good judgment for proper form and he helped a lot with that.

    My road bike does not have an aggressive geometry and I don't think that I could have my handlebars any lower than they are without problems.
    Last edited by goldfinch; 04-16-12 at 08:17 PM.

  12. #12
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    Sounds like you need a professional fitting done on your bike. As you age, unless you work on it, your flexibilty will change, and when you use clipless pedals it locks you into a set plane on the bike, so if you have any lateral postural issues it will come out on the bike. Also, along with the fitting, I'd suggest getting your SITS bones width measured to help with saddle selection.

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