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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 07-01-06, 07:06 PM   #1
lhester
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New Biker..PAIN!!!!

Ok guys..I am Brand spankin' new to the road bike. I tried out so many bikes these past few weeks, it's ridiculous, and I finally settled on an awesome Gunnar Roadie. I took it out today for the first time, Really hilly park.. and after mile 3 my back was hurting really bad, I couldn't sit on the seat ..(I'm a girl) and my wrists and hands were killing me. There are some MAJOR hills in this park and my hands hurt so bad I was having trouble breaking on the downhills. (I have new gel padded gloves) Is this a normal body "break-In" I am experiencing, or should I take the bike back. I was fitted to it and it felt great at first. My other bike is a TREK Navigator (comfort bike) so it's a new style for me..but I was not expecting this kinda pain. I am a runner so I wanted to get a good fast bike so maybe I could do some distance and crosstrain and just try something different for a change besides running. I mean it even hurts to type, and I only did 8 miles today. I am wanting to train for this hundred mile monster ride coming up in October, but now I am not so sure. HELP!!
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Old 07-01-06, 07:22 PM   #2
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Sounds pretty normal. Like everything else it takes time for your body to adjust and how long it takes depends on many factors, including age (you didn't say). You are probably already in good cardio shape from running. You're also seeing what's referred to as "sports specificity". You may be a strong runner, but the muscles you use for cycling are different and/or used in a different way. Road cycling tends to tax the quads, while running uses the hamstrings more. You'll probably be even more sore tomorrow than today. Yeeha.

You probably don't want to start out in hilly terrain. Hills can kick your ass, as you just found out. I'd reccommend sticking to flat terrain until you get past the newbie phase. A century in Oct. is very doable, if you train smart. There is a lot of info on this forum and elsewhere on training for beginners.

> I am a runner so I wanted to get a good fast bike

You'll probably here this again and again - there's not really such a thing as a "fast bike". There are fast riders. Sort of like saying "I want to get a fast pair of running shoes".
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Old 07-01-06, 07:39 PM   #3
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Granny is right - good post.

Start out with some routes that are flat and work your way back to the route you took today. I bet in a month or 2 you'll be giving us a very different report.

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Old 07-01-06, 07:46 PM   #4
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Definitely sounds like break-in period. Your body is so used to being a runner and the upright posture of your comfort bike, that the aggressive posture on the roadie is something you need to get used to. Try not to overdo it though. Take it one day at a time, and work up your mileage. Not for cardio purposes, but for getting the body used to the bike. After about a month or so, you'll notice a big differance.

I have been riding for a while now, and I still get the occasional lower back pain on my normal 23mi commute.
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Last edited by Patriot; 07-01-06 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 07-01-06, 07:53 PM   #5
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as a runner who came to riding for cross training... be a turtle, don't fret about speed... take the time to allow your bod to adjust from runner to cyclist... Avoid too much too soon... I learned the hard way... go easier than you think you can for a little while.
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Old 07-01-06, 07:57 PM   #6
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In addition to all the other great advice, I would add: measure your cycling by time in the saddle, not by mileage, at least at first. 20-30 minute rides will soon give way to 40 minutes, 1 hour, 90 minutes...

Don't bike until you feel pain. Just ease into it.
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Old 07-01-06, 07:59 PM   #7
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so..Pain in the lower back...that's normal? I know for runners knee pain is common. Is back and wrist pain just a normal bike pain? I am 33 BTW..and I know there's no such thing as a "fast bike" but my TREK is about 3 tons. It's a BEAST of a bike and I did the route in the park today in half the time it usually takes me on my TREK. I could never do 100 miles on that thing unless I had a year or so to do it in. I would be very comfotable, though!! LOL... I guess I should have known better than to do those hills on the ROADIE, but I figured I was in decent enough shape to do it because I've done it before on the TREK. My new road bike is apparently a whole different ball game. There is a 30 day money back on it so I am going to ride as much as possible to see if I can work through this, but if I can't..what do you guys think about different handlebars? SHould I get a bike that's more upright..like I'm use too? Will it still be consisdered a "road bike" and will it perform like one? Will I be "shunned" by other bikers? (the horror!) I REALLY, REALLY want to start biking, but I don't want to dread it. You know?
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Old 07-01-06, 08:12 PM   #8
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As long as the lower back pain is muscular from being in that position a long time, it isn't a real problem, as your body will slowly adjust to it. If it is lower back joint pain, then that is a more serious matter which you may want to discuss with your doctor about.
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Old 07-01-06, 08:21 PM   #9
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Hi,
we have a bunch of different issues going on here. Let's try to enumerate them.
First is that it takes a couple weeks for anyone. WHen Lance started race training, the saddle hurts for 2 weeks.

The second thing is that saddles are very individual. Quite likley you will need a different saddle. What do you have now? Terry makes some nice saddles for gals.

The third issue is strength. You may need to hit the gym and build up strength in your back and arms. If you are young, you might not have to. But it would prob help.

The fourth issue is position, get a stem that is way steeper. That will get you a little more upright. You can always throw your old stem on later. Does the gunnar have a double up front? Is pushing the higher gears one of the problems? I have a triple on my gunnar.

The fifth issue is the handlebar. I put a lot of padding on mine. It helps.
I have a whole ritual that creates a well padded, well contoured place to rest my hands. I'm a big fan of Off the Front Grip Shapes. Your LBS should know what they are, if he doesn't, I can tell you where to get them.

If there are ANY other changes, such as crank arm length from your old bike, this would be the time to mention them.
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Old 07-01-06, 08:24 PM   #10
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While some degree of discomfort is normal - if your back and hands and wrists were hurting as badly as you describe, after only three miles, something is not right. Take the bike back and get it checked - if the fit is right, then it could be you are tensing up or maintaining a bad body position. (the hand/wrist pain almost sounds like there is too much weight on your hands).

Were you trying to spend the whole time in the drops? Most riders spend their time on the hoods, and go into the drops when a more aerodynamic position is required. Spending too much time in the drops when your body is not accustomed to that position can certainly become uncomfortable. You might want to look at some cycling specific core-strength exercises.

The other thing to consider is that your handlebars might be too low for your current level of cycling fitness. It might be worth raising them initially and then dropping them down to their present position as you improve.

Do you know someone who is experienced and knowledgeable enough to go for a ride with you and analyse your position and style? Might be worth doing that as a start.
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Old 07-01-06, 08:24 PM   #11
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You are in pain because you simply overdid it today. You are going to have a lot of different aches and pains as you adjust to the "new" roadie position. Even small changes can induce pain in very experienced riders. I rode 1500 pretty comfortable miles this past month. Today, just for kicks though, I lowered my saddle by about 1 cm. - a relatively minor change in position. I experienced a good deal of discomfort as a result and stopped mid way through my ride and changed it back. I'm sure you have experienced similar situations when changing running shoes. Remember the first time you ever went running? I'll bet you didn't feel so great that first day either. But, would it have made sense to start changing things around shoe-wise aftre just one run? Nope.

I wouldn't recommend changing bars, or anything else at this point. You have no established base from which to work yet - if you start changing things too soon you'll have no idea why things are/aren't working. Road bikes are designed for the kind of riding it sounds like you want to do.

My recomendation: RELAX, stick with it, be patient and keep it fun. Consider your first road bike a "learner" bike. You have to build a strong foundation first. If you put the cart before the horse you'll probably end up going backwards.


Quote:
Originally Posted by lhester
so..Pain in the lower back...that's normal? I know for runners knee pain is common. Is back and wrist pain just a normal bike pain? I am 33 BTW..and I know there's no such thing as a "fast bike" but my TREK is about 3 tons. It's a BEAST of a bike and I did the route in the park today in half the time it usually takes me on my TREK. I could never do 100 miles on that thing unless I had a year or so to do it in. I would be very comfotable, though!! LOL... I guess I should have known better than to do those hills on the ROADIE, but I figured I was in decent enough shape to do it because I've done it before on the TREK. My new road bike is apparently a whole different ball game. There is a 30 day money back on it so I am going to ride as much as possible to see if I can work through this, but if I can't..what do you guys think about different handlebars? SHould I get a bike that's more upright..like I'm use too? Will it still be consisdered a "road bike" and will it perform like one? Will I be "shunned" by other bikers? (the horror!) I REALLY, REALLY want to start biking, but I don't want to dread it. You know?
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Old 07-01-06, 08:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patriot
As long as the lower back pain is muscular from being in that position a long time, it isn't a real problem, as your body will slowly adjust to it. If it is lower back joint pain, then that is a more serious matter which you may want to discuss with your doctor about.
I appologize for hijacking this thread, but I can I tell the difference between lower back pain and lower back joint pain?

I've been riding bikes for the past three decades or so, but I only very recently got myself a roadbike. I noticed that I get lower back pain, very probably caused by my inhability to keep my back straight. However, when I get home, I do a couple of stretches and the pain is usually gone within minutes. An encouraging thing is that I noticed that the more I ride, the longer it takes to feel the lower back pain.

Anyway, I picked some great advice is this thread. Thank you all!

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Old 07-01-06, 08:47 PM   #13
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"Hi,
we have a bunch of different issues going on here. Let's try to enumerate them.
First is that it takes a couple weeks for anyone. WHen Lance started race training, the saddle hurts for 2 weeks.

The second thing is that saddles are very individual. Quite likley you will need a different saddle. What do you have now? Terry makes some nice saddles for gals.

The third issue is strength. You may need to hit the gym and build up strength in your back and arms. If you are young, you might not have to. But it would prob help.

The fourth issue is position, get a stem that is way steeper. That will get you a little more upright. You can always throw your old stem on later. Does the gunnar have a double up front? Is pushing the higher gears one of the problems? I have a triple on my gunnar.

The fifth issue is the handlebar. I put a lot of padding on mine. It helps.
I have a whole ritual that creates a well padded, well contoured place to rest my hands. I'm a big fan of Off the Front Grip Shapes. Your LBS should know what they are, if he doesn't, I can tell you where to get them.

If there are ANY other changes, such as crank arm length from your old bike, this would be the time to mention them."

* Unfortantly..I have no idea about alot of the questions you are asking. (Stems and whatnot) I hate to say.."Duh"..but really..DUH!! I just don't know about all that yet. I am spending alot of time here, though so I can hopefully learn. I do go to the gym...but I am still pretty weak. Distance running tends to eat away at any attempt to build muscle mass. I still try, though.
I am looking for a Biking Guide for Dummies or Idiots Guide to Biking or SOMETHING>>>ANYTHING to help me. I do know that I rode in the hoods!!! I am terrified of the drops.HA! And, I am scared to death of hills. My poor hands could barly slow me down towards the end of that ride, and I thought I might even die as a result of not being able to slow down on this one hill today. I guess I was just REALLY excited about my new bike and I wanted to see what it would do so I just over did it. Luckily there is a bike club here in Nashville (The Harpeth Bike Club) that I am going to try out and get some pointers. By the way..those of you here in Nashville..the park I went to was Percy Warner.
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Old 07-01-06, 08:55 PM   #14
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OH...and that "Duh" was totally directed to ME!! I re-read that and it may sound like it was for you..NOPE!! All for me. I am CLUELESS when it comes to my new bike! LOL!
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Old 07-01-06, 09:09 PM   #15
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When it starts to sting, repeat these lines over and over again in your head:

Quote:
Because the cycling is pain. The cycling is soul crushing pain. The cycling is meant to make mothers weep, to make children scream, to crush the souls of the weak. The cycling is not spin class. Sure the Jan could ride a gear that is being the size of a tea cup, like Marinara Boy Basso, but the Jan is not here to dance. The Jan is here to reap.
That's what I do when I feel the burn on a climb.
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Old 07-01-06, 09:27 PM   #16
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Well, you didn't fall anyway!
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Old 07-01-06, 09:34 PM   #17
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Hi,
1) The stem grabs the handlebar. Getting a short steep one is common
2) Strength, not mass, gals don't usually get mass unless they take steroids.
Find something to push, then push some more.
Midsection exercises also good, crunches, hyperextensions, etc
3) You can get Mtn bike brake levers put on your bike, doesn't cost a lot.
I have that and love it. You can ask your LBS to put s shim in your brifters to bring the handle back closer to the bar
4) I don't think you overdid it. I also don't think you answered all my questions.
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Old 07-01-06, 10:24 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lhester
Ok guys..I am Brand spankin' new to the road bike. I tried out so many bikes these past few weeks, it's ridiculous, and I finally settled on an awesome Gunnar Roadie. I took it out today for the first time, Really hilly park.. and after mile 3 my back was hurting really bad, I couldn't sit on the seat ..(I'm a girl) and my wrists and hands were killing me. There are some MAJOR hills in this park and my hands hurt so bad I was having trouble breaking on the downhills. (I have new gel padded gloves) Is this a normal body "break-In" I am experiencing, or should I take the bike back. I was fitted to it and it felt great at first. My other bike is a TREK Navigator (comfort bike) so it's a new style for me..but I was not expecting this kinda pain. I am a runner so I wanted to get a good fast bike so maybe I could do some distance and crosstrain and just try something different for a change besides running. I mean it even hurts to type, and I only did 8 miles today. I am wanting to train for this hundred mile monster ride coming up in October, but now I am not so sure. HELP!!
I agree with others that you probably overdid it. One big difference between running and cycling is that the time period for cycling is so much longer. Running for an hour is a fairly long run. Most serious cyclists wouldn't go out if they were only going to ride an hour. What that means is that you need to slow down considerably. Try to ride so that you could keep riding when you're done, and gear down so that hills are comfortable to climb.

I coach soccer for my daughter's team in the fall. After spending the summer on a bike, I have excellent aerobic fitness, but I don't have the muscles to run. That's a dangerous state - it's easy for me to run for far longer than my muscles can take and end up in serious pain, since I never get out of breath.

My one other thought is one of flexibility. Cycling takes a fair amount of hamstring flexibility, and if you don't have that, you can get back problems.

Good luck. With the aerobic conditioning you have, you should be able to do a century in October.
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Old 07-01-06, 10:40 PM   #19
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Hey lhester, you might want to also go check out the forums over on Team Estrogen

Lots of very supportive gals over there with a lot of female specific cycling advice.
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Old 07-02-06, 12:00 AM   #20
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lhester send me a PM...maybe we can ride together sometime. I'm a grad student at Vandy....we could ride out at shelby bottoms which is much flatter than Percy Warner. Nashville is quite the hilly town. Feel free to PM me and maybe we could set something up.
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Old 07-02-06, 12:01 AM   #21
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I have a "tight" back, when I started 5 miles required me to get off the bike and stand straight up. Frequent rides, however short, and stretching really helped the back. I like to raise one leg up to hip level (resting on table/object) and lean into in--to strect the back stretch the hamstrings. Now I can stay in the saddle for 50 miles, switching hand positions to relieve tension buildup.
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Old 07-02-06, 06:49 AM   #22
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Last summer when I started the pain in the lower back was so bad after the first week that I had to take time off the bike already. I was overweight and my body was not use to or ready for the roadie position. It will pass. Later .
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Old 07-02-06, 06:56 AM   #23
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If you had your shop Fit you I wouldn't worry about messing around with that much yet. Especially pain in the hands/wrist can be a normal strenghtening process. One of the biggest mistakes "rookies" make is getting locked into one position on the Bike.

For both pains I would suggest learning to move around a bit during rides. Alternate between hands on hoods and tops, move them in close to the stem, out by the bends. Stand a bit now and then to loosen your back. Slide up on the seat or back, ect. Most of us do this without even thinking about it. Will releive most overuse pain.
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Old 07-02-06, 06:58 AM   #24
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Don't hesitate to share your riding feedback with the shop that fit your bike. It could be possible that a few adjustments could be made to reduce some of the pain. You might be just a bit stretched out on the bike, (handle bars too far from the seat), which could cause some back discomfort.

Give your current ride feedback to your bike tech and see if he/she feels any adjustments are necessary. Then ride the fit for 200 miles, at that point I would go back for a final review/adjustment.
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Old 07-02-06, 07:22 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Voodoo76
If you had your shop Fit you I wouldn't worry about messing around with that much yet. Especially pain in the hands/wrist can be a normal strenghtening process. One of the biggest mistakes "rookies" make is getting locked into one position on the Bike.

For both pains I would suggest learning to move around a bit during rides. Alternate between hands on hoods and tops, move them in close to the stem, out by the bends. Stand a bit now and then to loosen your back. Slide up on the seat or back, ect. Most of us do this without even thinking about it. Will releive most overuse pain.
I agree with others that you probably overdid it. Since you are terrified of hills and were riding in them, I'm wondering if you weren't basically stiff when you rode and had a death grip on the handlebars.

When you ride, shift your position on the bike so that you can maintain comfort and use different muscle sets. .

The muscles used in running and cycling are very different. Your endurance will be good so you'll be able to pedal longer, but at the beginning, you'll get sore easily and won't be very fast. Don't give up. You'll improve rapidly and be feeling much better soon.
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