Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: DC / Maryland suburbs
Bikes: Homebuilt tourer/commuter, modified-beyond-recognition 1990 Trek 1100, reasonably stock 2002-ish Gary Fisher Hoo Koo E Koo
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Originally Posted by Cheshire
Start with background, ending with question.
I'm in a bit of an odd predicament. I completed (woohoo!) my first long-distance commute last thursday, but the trip left me with some concerns. The trip is 35 miles one-way, and about 2/3 the way there, I was up on the flats of the road bike searching for that magic posture that would NOT amplify the pain in my shoulders. I made a point of stretching after I got to school (my last ex-girlfriend is a massage therapist...I promised I'd start stretching), and by the time I was ready to get on the bike again my back had quit complaining. 10 miles into the 35-mile return trip and my back was where it had left off with the pain creeping down my spine into my lower back. Not Fun!
At the beginning of this month, I discovered that my road bike is too small for me by a standard frame size: it's a 58cm and according to (very basic) fit calculators I should be riding at least a 60cm frame. The stem is at-a-glance noticably below my saddle. If I keep biking to school, the gas savings can get me a new frame within 2 months. ($7.50 per trip, allowing for 1 driving day/heavy cargo & supplies)
So, I'm not a doctor or anything like it, but here's my experience if it helps any...
When I got my first road bike, I experienced back and shoulder pain very similar to what you're describing. I tried adjusting my body position endlessly, but it persisted. As a result, I rode that bike rarely, only a few times a month, for the next few months and the pain never went away. But then I decided to start commuting daily on the road bike, and within a couple of weeks the pain had gone away! Now I can ride any of my road bikes for 30 miles+ with no back or shoulder pain
My conclusion is that a road bike taxes back and shoulder muscles much harder than a hybrid or mountain bike. Only FREQUENT road bike riding SUSTAINED for several weeks will cause this pain to go away. Also, if you're riding with a heavy backpack, do yourself a BIG favor and switch to rack and panniers.
Furthermore, it sounds like I'm proportioned almost identically to you: I should be riding 60 cm, but I have 58 cm bikes because I bought them used and that's what was available. Don't worry about the slight frame size mismatch. Worst case, get a new stem and adjust your seatpost and brake lever position. You don't need a new frame... unless you're just looking for a reason to validate your bike lust (lord knows, we all are
Anyway, that's my take on this type of pain: it's just a matter of acclimation to the road bike--which can be quite painful for a week or two. No shortcut to alleviate it, I'm afraid. Good luck with your long commute! 35 miles is impressive as hell, on any kind of bike!
Last edited by moxfyre; 08-21-06 at 11:09 PM.