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  1. #1
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    what a pain in the neck!

    hello everyone, I'll be leaving for a tour in 2 weeks and im starting to get a little concerned, everything else in my training has gone to plan, my brooks is broken in, my legs are great but my neck is the one thing that still bothers me. i realize now that i probably shouldn't have gotten talked into a 58cm surly crosscheck (it's a little big, but the bike tech thought the longer wheelbase would be better for touring, which made sence at the time.), and i thought that the neck pain at first was due to weak neck muscles so i rode and rode till it really became unpleasant and now see a chiropractor/massage thearpist who is helping me out alot however my insurance doesnt cover him to come on a tour with me...

    so while seeing him i did some research and i've been able to modify the bike where the ride is a lot better, my bars are about level with my seat (had to get a new fork to raise the height a few inches) and i got a shorter stem (it was found in my LBS) i know it's about 90mm long but with an unknown rise. so now i only have a few options left, my first question is what is the highest rise you can get with a stem? 40 degrees? i also stopped wearing a helmet altogether (dangerous i know, but much more comfortable for my neck) i know my handlebars are a little too wide, but i dont think that's the cause of the problem, my riding posture is pretty relaxed and i try to make sure it stays that way though i tend to lock my elbows a bit to get the lowest neck angle.

    when i'm on the brake hoods i can just see my the hub. my seat is where it should be and is comfortable, but i'm just at my wits end with the pain at the back of my neck. it starts to bother me when i pass 40 miles and it's just a nagging stiffness, not shooting pains or anything. the tour i'm going on is a short tour, i go accross the erie canal, hop on the "lake errie connector" then do some of the "north lake route" it's not very difficult and i think i should finish it in good time and i'm sure i can tough it out with some advil/beer but what else can i do? i had kind of a bad case of lyme disease last summer and wonder if i now have neck arthritis or something because my fit seems okay but my neck begs to differ.
    thanks!
    Mike Demchak
    Last edited by mikeshift1; 06-01-09 at 08:20 PM.

  2. #2
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    I suggest paying for a bike fitting. The first time I did it, I found out how off I was with my own attempts to fit.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Paragraph breaks make things easier to read.

    Did you mention, somewhere in there, the height of your handlebars in relation to your saddle?

  4. #4
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    hah thanks yeah it might just come down to me stop being such a cheap skate and going for a fitting.

    Machka yes my handlebars are currently at about seat level (think a CM below or so )

    mike!

  5. #5
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    This is purely a guess, but since you mentioned the bike is a little big for you, I wonder if the top tube length is causing you to stretch out forward too much.

    I know you mentioned bring the bars up and using a shorter stem. I question whether that was enough. I prefer a short top tube, myself. I have an old Trek that I use on a mag trainer in the winter that is a little big for me. I use a shorter stem like you are doing and I also use a zero-setback seatpost to help move the saddle forward a bit. The farther forward I move the saddle, the more sensitive I am to its tilt angle, so I use a two-bolt seatpost and adjust the nose up or down in minute increments to get a position I like. It's easier to do on a trainer because everything else is constant.

    It's just an idea.

  6. #6
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    I've been having a lot of neck and shoulder pain as well. What helped me was removing the visor from my helmet. If you wear sunglasses make sure they aren't causing you to hold your head further back than you normally would. If you have a helmet or glasses mounted mirror it may also be causing you to hold your head in an unusual position.

  7. #7
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    I have some limitations in my neck also - an old injury in the C5-C6 region that gives me pain after awhile. My suggestions: Get those bars up higher. I like mine 2-3" above the saddle for extended riding, and the other suggestions about shortening up the cockpit will help also. Assuming you dont have glasses or a helmet visor in the way, learn to hold your head tilted slightly down while rolling your eyes upward more to see the road ahead, rather than craning your neck. Make sure you're not tensing up your arms and shoulders - it will work it's way right up to your neck. And lastly, take frequent short breaks to stretch and relax your neck (look downwards, roll shoulders, tilt head,, etc).

  8. #8
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    thanks everyone, I'm thinking about just getting the highest rise in a stem as i can which i seemed to have found in a 125 degree raise and hope it should be enough! but i definitely will try to take some nice short breaks (maybe even a mid-day hammock nap!) some stretching and better riding posture.

    xyzz just a question, but when you moved your seat up, did this bother your knees? i havent played around with the fore/aft with my seat to much because of fear of this issue.

    thanks all,
    mike!

  9. #9
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    I, too, just got a (free) fitting, because the local bike shop owner is a great guy and we're friends to boot. I, too, was waaay off, and I've been helping set other riders up since the 1970s. He noticed things about me I'd never dreamed of, like a left leg that's a bit longer than the right (days later, at a clothing store, I was told my left arm is just a bit shorter than the right -- body by Picasso, I guess).

    One thing he said as I spun on a trainer really made a difference. He noticed that my neck was craned up, even on the hoods. I was looking at the far wall of the shop. Really, your center of focus should only be 40 feet or so ahead. Your peripheral vision will give the long view. Shoot for a straight neck when you ride. And think about getting that fitting.

  10. #10
    Senior Member lighthorse's Avatar
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    Mike,
    Are you by any chance wearing a helmet with a visor? If so, take the visor off and try riding for awhile, it might help.
    Good luck.
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    crazyguyonabike.com/lighthorse

  11. #11
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    Also, if you wear glasses, wear one of those elastic chords that keeps the glasses tighter against your face. If they slip down (even a little bit) when you ride you have to lift your head up more to see.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikeshift1 View Post
    xyzz just a question, but when you moved your seat up, did this bother your knees? i havent played around with the fore/aft with my seat to much because of fear of this issue.
    Moving my saddle forward didn't bother my knees at all. However, even though I'm 50 years old, I've never had any knee problems. Sometimes it seems my knees are the only things that still work perfectly on my body.

  13. #13
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    I find doing a few push-ups, to strengthen my upper body, makes riding a lot more comfortable.

  14. #14
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    woohoo even more replies! at the moment i haven't been wearing a helmet at all because the small extra weight on my head has made a noticeable difference in my comfort level. i would love the problem to be so easily solved as to messing around with my sunglasses (something i thought about on my bike ride home from work). I dont know what it is, but i've got a small ego problem with going to a bike shop for a fitting, i even know a great friend who would help me out in a second, but i would much perfer to solve this on my own (with the help of everyone here at bikeforums that is) it's odd but getting a professional fitting seems like throwing in the towel and admitting defeat....
    mike!

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