You can also get weighted-plugs from motorcycle shops that fit into the ends of the bars to reduce road-vibration. They're typically a solid-metal insert with an expander bolt to lock into place.
Bontrager makes some bicycle-specific bar-end plugs, get the heavier brass one: BzzzKill Harmonic Dampers
"I will try your suggestions on hand positions - strangely I have found the drops fairly comfortable."
Most likely that's due to your arms being more vertical. This lets you rest your weight on the arms with using less shoulder muscle. Imagine perfectly vertical arms, like you're doing push-ups, they can support your weight just on compressing the bones vertically, no muscles needed.
Here's some pictures of what I'm talking about with the wrists aimed outwards. The idea is you want to have all your weight supported on the heel of your palms so that the weight-bearing function goes directly into the arm bones. So that you don't even have to grip the bars or hoods to support your weight:
Easy test is to just relax the fingers' grip and see if your hands start to slip to the outside gradually. If they do, rotate the heel of the palm inwards more. This relaxes your forearm and shoulder muscles quite a bit. Another test of whether you're supporting your weight passively is being able to wiggle all your fingers freely.
"I got an off line suggestion of using the ergometer in the gym more to strengthen the specific muscle area, does that sound right? The suggestion was not from a pro."
Hmm, the final last stages of an erg pull may work on your upper-body somewhat, but it's mainly the glutes, quads and lower-back that's worked out on an erg. You may want to look at some neck-specific weight-training exercises
. And workouts for the traps and deltoids
Last edited by DannoXYZ; 10-18-05 at 02:24 AM.