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Old 08-29-04, 01:33 PM   #1
CommuterKat
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70 mile ride, and lots o' pain...

Yesterday, I went on my longest ride yet. I almost didn't make it back, the pain in my hands, wrists, and forearms was so bad. My butt also got sore at about mile 60, even though I have a gel seat with a female "cutout" (don't remember which brand). Just wondering when the pain stops? Did anyone out there experience arm/hand pain until you got more used to distance riding? I have been upping my milage by about 10 miles a week on weekends, and doing some shorter trips (10-20 miles maybe once or twice a week) during the week.

I also got very dehydrated, even though I drank 8 water bottles and also found that nausea was a constant problem from about 50 miles on, and couldn't eat anything after that, even though I knew I was out of fuel. I know I should probably cut back the miles a bit, but I love the feeling of using up every last shred of energy. I just wish I could do it without the pain. My legs can take it, as I always can do more hills towards the end, it is just the flats that really start to get to me with the arm pain.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Kat
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Old 08-29-04, 02:07 PM   #2
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Cut back. Short answer.

Long answer, you've got to build up to it. Longer rides over time, and more days of riding ought to do it. And this winter, if you get the chance, get a trainer and start working on a progressive training program. That way, when the spring comes, you'll be ready to hit the road hard, and by mid summer (latest), you'll be doing centuries comfortably.

It's all about pacing. I'd rather do 50 miles in relative comfort than 75 miles in relative discomfort. And while you're at it, it would be a good idea to work on form, since you seem to have discomfort in areas that are typically associated with form issues.

Good luck with it, and post if you need more suggestions!


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Old 08-29-04, 02:12 PM   #3
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Work on the bike fit. Very small changes will make a big difference. Once you get it right it's like magic.

Toss the gel seat.

Sit up and stretch whenever you feel any discomfort anywhere. Change hand positions once in awhile, even if just subtle changes. Slide around on the seat to slightly different positions.

As your "all day endurance" improves you will be more comfortable even without improving bike fit. Tired muscles don't give proper support on the bike and can lead to all kinds of discomfort. If you start feeling too drained take a break. Nothing like a little nap under a tree.
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Old 08-29-04, 02:35 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by phinney
Toss the gel seat.
Well, as they say "it does not get any easier, it just gets faster". Cycling is a sport with a lot of pain - I think you just have to get used to a certain amount.

Having said that, I would almost place money on the fact that you had flat bars? Am I right? These can be VERY painful - both on the hands and arms. When I moved to dropdowns, all that pain went. In fact - no pain at all now in the arms, hands area. There is still pain in the butt area, but I do not think you can do much about that. You can delay it a long time - and while 60 or 70 miles is a long way, it should not be all that sore at that point. It all depends on how long you took - it is not the distance that is painful, it is the number of hours in the saddle. It should have taken you around 4-4.5 hours (or less of course).

I agree about tossing the gel seat, in general terms. By 'gel seat', I really mean 'tractor seat'. A little bit of gel is ok - even good. But you do not want a wide seat, commonly called a 'tractor seat'. These are very painful on long rides. I think that there is an inverse relationship between the newness of a bike rider and the width of their seats. New riders have big fat gel filled seats. The experienced riders all have narrow little seats that look painful.

I have done more centuries than I can remember, and I still get sore. Mostly I just get sore - sometimes it can be really painlful though. I have not really worked out why. It seems that when I enjoy the ride - I get less pain. Some rides are dead boring - especially if you happen to be by yourself - so you concentrate on every little pain. When you are with a group - and moving over some interesting terrain, then I find the pain is a lot less. Being in a group seems to be the best pain reliever.
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Old 08-29-04, 04:31 PM   #5
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hmm no pain here............And I'll bet its just a tad bit faster too!
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Old 08-29-04, 04:52 PM   #6
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Hey Kat,

A little additional information would be a great help.

1. What bike are your riding?
2. What training have you done? (routine distances ridden, total number of miles for the year)
3. What had you eaten prior to the ride? What did you eat during the ride?
4. When did you begin the hydration process prior to the ride?
5. Did you drink a sports drink in addition to water?

These are pointed questions that will help to determine what MAY have caused each of the issues you mentioned in your post.

On the bright side, it does get less painful when you get things dialed in. (not just the bike, but your body's nutritional requirements)
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Old 08-29-04, 04:53 PM   #7
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I don't know if I could toss the gel seat. Do they make one of those teeny, tiny seats with a cutout for women? I know that I have tons of pain and numbness for a couple of days after only a ride of 20-30 miles on one of those, no matter how long I try to build up a tolerance. The seat is kind of wide, I guess, so that could be contributing, but it doesn't chafe at all.

Yes, the bars are straight, but I have curved bar ends which give me a couple more hand positions, and I try to keep my wrists straight and my elbows bent as much as possible, but sometimes I catch myself being a little lax. I will have to work on the form.
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Old 08-29-04, 05:25 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterKat
Yes, the bars are straight, but I have curved bar ends which give me a couple more hand positions, and I try to keep my wrists straight and my elbows bent as much as possible, but sometimes I catch myself being a little lax. I will have to work on the form.
Ah ha! It is a good feeling to be right! When I first started riding, I got flat bars fitted because the bike shop guys said the flat bars were more comfortable. At the time the road bike guys (and girls) kept telling me that the dropdown bars where much more comfortable - and there were more positions to place your hands. Frankly, I did not believe them - the dropdown bars look very simple - how many positions could there be?

But when I bought my new Trek 2300, it came with dropdowns - and there was no way the bike shop was going to fit flat bars to it! And it was the best thing I ever did. No more pain whatsoever. I sometimes ride my old Softride with the flat bars, and I hate it. How those bike shop people could say that flat bars are more comfortable beats me.

It is usually not economical to change to dropdowns - the gear selectors are just too expensive. So I guess you will just have to live with it.
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Old 08-29-04, 05:32 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterKat
I don't know if I could toss the gel seat. Do they make one of those teeny, tiny seats with a cutout for women? I know that I have tons of pain and numbness for a couple of days after only a ride of 20-30 miles on one of those, no matter how long I try to build up a tolerance. The seat is kind of wide, I guess, so that could be contributing, but it doesn't chafe at all.
Seat fit is a very personal thing. When I bought my new bike - the LBS said I could have any seat in their shop. And I could come back and change it if I did not like my selection. The reason for this is that it can take some time to see if a seat suits you. So I chose the most expensive titanium seat they had - looked great. My butt hated it. I went through about 4 or 5 seats in a month or so - I would just walk into the shop and pick the next one down the wall. Eventually, I got to a very cheap one, way down the bottom - seemed very comfortable, except that it chafed on very long rides. I finally tried a Rolls seat that a fellow rider happened to have spare, and it was perfect. And I am still riding that one.

The thing is I was lucky to find a bike shop that let me switch seats as much as I liked - sort of a "Seat Library". The bike shops know full well that seat fit is a very personal thing - so good shops will let you swap a seat if it does not suit you. Try and find one of these in your area.
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Old 08-29-04, 06:23 PM   #10
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I just did my longest ride yesterday (about 65~70 miles in 4.5 hours) and I was also a lot more sore than ever before. I had it in the lower back though, someplace that has never before bothered me. And I'm pretty sure it was due to the fact that I didn't sit up straight on the bike much at all. Usually I do a couple minutes an hour of sitting straight up and moving without my hands on the bars.

This time around I also did more hills than usual and I think that made me back tired. And I still get stiff/sore arms after a ride lasting more than two hours. I have to remember to stretch them out every 90 minutes or so.

But 70 miles in a shot is a HUGE difference over three 20 mile rides done during the week.
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Old 08-29-04, 06:29 PM   #11
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I just did my longest ride yesterday (about 65~70 miles in 4.5 hours)
4.5 hours! It took me nearly 9 hours! I did stop for about an hour for lunch, and about an hour around dinner time (although I didn't eat dinner). I also had to stop every once in a while, just to let some blood circulate for a minute or two. There were a few hills which I am sure slowed my time down quite a bit. I am looking forward to the day when I can do that distance in a half day, rather than all day. Good for you on your long ride!

One good side note, I am recovering much more rapidly than I used to. Tonight, I almost feel back to normal, except for two numb fingers, and a bunch of blisters on my feet, which will just have to heal on their own. Legs, arms, and butt are all good again. If it wasn't pouring with thunder and lightning here, I just might have had to go out for a spin today!
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Old 08-29-04, 06:32 PM   #12
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9 HOURS?!? Oh man no wonder you were in pain!!! If I'm doing nothing but sittin' on the sofa for 9 hours I start to get a little sore here and there!
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Old 08-29-04, 06:37 PM   #13
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100 miles on a Brooks B17 Saturday. No pain - at least not in the rider/saddle interface.
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Old 08-29-04, 06:47 PM   #14
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100 miles on a Brooks B17 Saturday. No pain - at least not in the rider/saddle interface.
Wowza supcom! Is that a normal amount for you to ride, or have you built up to that recently?
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Old 08-29-04, 09:50 PM   #15
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Seats: You are supposed sit on your "sit bones", the isicheal tuberosities. Long distance riders usually go for harder seats that just blow the minds of others. The Brooks B17 is the seat of choice for many long-distance riders. It is leather, and seems to be quite hard, but it wears in with butt grooves, shaped to your ITs. Gel seats are OK for shorter rides, but they tend to squish so that you end up being supported on the flesh around the ITs. Be aware that riding so far so early means you are finding out the muscles and tendons in the butt region that are being used, and they will take some riding to condition.

Fit: It sounds like the seat and fit are related together to give you pain in the arms. You should try moving the seat back on the seatpost mounting, if you can. Otherwise, the bike might be too small for you. Are you riding in an almost upright position? This puts extra stress on your butt as well as forcing you to rest forward on your hands.

IIRC this is an old bike that's on its last legs. Get rid of the car now (if you can) and buy that new bike. If you want to ride long distance and commute, have a look at the archives for suggestions on touring bikes, and especially those with dropbars. Be prepared to spend as much as you can afford on a good quality touring-style bike. And make sure you get the right fit. Remember the old real estate jingle : "Location. Location. Location. It means everything"? Same applies to the location of your butt, your feet and your hands. With a reasonable bike, you should be able to get the macro adjustments just about right out of the shop, then spend a bit of time making millimetre by millimetre improvements.

As to wanting to use up every last shred of energy, don't, ever. The cyclist creed is to eat before you are hungry. In your case, with eight bottles of water consumed, there is a chance that you drank too much, bloated and you stomach was telling you that it couldn't handle food.

Cut back your distance, then build up in, say, 10 percent increments. Experiment with your hydration and food intake to find what works for you.
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Old 08-29-04, 10:18 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CommuterKat
Do they make one of those teeny, tiny seats with a cutout for women?
Terry makes saddles with cut-outs designed for women but don't be surprised if a men's cut-out saddles works for you better than a women's saddles. My wife had a Terry Butterfly (women's) but exchanged it for a Terry Fly (men's) and found it much more comfortable.
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Old 08-30-04, 03:06 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rowan
Seats: You are supposed sit on your "sit bones", the isicheal tuberosities. Long distance riders usually go for harder seats that just blow the minds of others. The Brooks B17 is the seat of choice for many long-distance riders. It is leather, and seems to be quite hard, but it wears in with butt grooves, shaped to your ITs. Gel seats are OK for shorter rides, but they tend to squish so that you end up being supported on the flesh around the ITs. Be aware that riding so far so early means you are finding out the muscles and tendons in the butt region that are being used, and they will take some riding to condition.

Fit: It sounds like the seat and fit are related together to give you pain in the arms. You should try moving the seat back on the seatpost mounting, if you can. Otherwise, the bike might be too small for you. Are you riding in an almost upright position? This puts extra stress on your butt as well as forcing you to rest forward on your hands.

IIRC this is an old bike that's on its last legs. Get rid of the car now (if you can) and buy that new bike. If you want to ride long distance and commute, have a look at the archives for suggestions on touring bikes, and especially those with dropbars. Be prepared to spend as much as you can afford on a good quality touring-style bike. And make sure you get the right fit. Remember the old real estate jingle : "Location. Location. Location. It means everything"? Same applies to the location of your butt, your feet and your hands. With a reasonable bike, you should be able to get the macro adjustments just about right out of the shop, then spend a bit of time making millimetre by millimetre improvements.

As to wanting to use up every last shred of energy, don't, ever. The cyclist creed is to eat before you are hungry. In your case, with eight bottles of water consumed, there is a chance that you drank too much, bloated and you stomach was telling you that it couldn't handle food.

Cut back your distance, then build up in, say, 10 percent increments. Experiment with your hydration and food intake to find what works for you.
Hmm.. Maybe I did drink too much water. That would explain the nausea, but not the inability to pee.
I recently had the seat moved forward along with having the stem raised. Maybe I should have only had one or the other done. I could try moving the seat back to where it was, and just try with the raised handlebars for my next ride.
I think I am going to look into the seat mentioned by SteveE, sounds like a nice compromise between my gel seat and a regular one. I really think I need the cutout (at least until I drop a few more pounds), but the gel can go.

Thanks again for all of the advice! Kat
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Old 08-30-04, 07:35 PM   #18
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Good to make only one adjustment at a time. And to mark the original position so if it doesn't work, you can go back and try something else.
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Old 08-30-04, 08:03 PM   #19
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search for "bike fit" posts in the forums, you will find some good websites to help you dial in the best bike fit. as for your sore butt, use some kind of lubricant on your shorts, again search the forums for what the members are using, vaseline or bag balm (bag balm might be too strong on a lady's seat skin) works good for me. and for 75miles in 9 hours, nothing to worry about, you'll get faster as your body gets more comfortable on your bike. good luck!
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Old 08-30-04, 10:42 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diggy18
9 HOURS?!? Oh man no wonder you were in pain!!! If I'm doing nothing but sittin' on the sofa for 9 hours I start to get a little sore here and there!
It's funny that you mention that, because I was just thinking to myself tonight how I get more sore in the arse from an hour on the sofa than from a five hour century on the bike.
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Old 08-31-04, 02:04 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveE
Terry makes saddles with cut-outs designed for women but don't be surprised if a men's cut-out saddles works for you better than a women's saddles. My wife had a Terry Butterfly (women's) but exchanged it for a Terry Fly (men's) and found it much more comfortable.
Definitely tells you how personal a saddle can be. I have the Terry Butterfly and I absolutely LOVE it.
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Old 08-31-04, 04:42 PM   #22
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Everyone has been very helpful on the seat end, but what about the other end? Has anyone had sore hands/wrists/arms that get better with conditioning? I am wondering if it will go away eventually, or if it is completely a fit thing that will totally disappear once the fit is perfect (can a bike fit perfectly??)
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Old 08-31-04, 06:02 PM   #23
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I have flat bars on my bike and I don't think they are inherently bad. I can't recall any major pains in the hand/wrist area, but on a couple of occasions (after several days of touring in flat landscapes) my shoulders have complained a bit. I think the best advice I can give is to relax your arms and hands, and don't use the most obvious grip that much (my preferred "distance" position is resting the hands on top of the break handles, which happens to be a very similar position to the hoods on a drop bar). This season I have done three ~300k rides on my flat bar bike, one of which at the end of a 700k three day tour, without any discomfort in my arms or hands so a flat bar bike can definitely be made to fit. It also takes time to condition the body to new limits, and if you are comfortable riding 40-50 miles then I'd say that the pain should diminish after a few more 70 mile rides.

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Old 08-31-04, 06:32 PM   #24
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I have flat bars too, and I try and change up my hand position lots. Like sometimes I grasp each barend upside down, as if I were doing a bicep curl. I can still steer even though I can't break form here.

And I did have wrist pain in just my right arm for the first few weeks and thought it would be a persistant problem, but the discomfort just went away.
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Old 08-31-04, 07:12 PM   #25
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(my preferred "distance" position is resting the hands on top of the break handles, which happens to be a very similar position to the hoods on a drop bar).
/Csson
Huh? I'm not quite sure how I would get my any part of my hand other than my fingertips on my brakes.

Good to hear that it should eventually fade. I think I need to tinker with the fit a bit more. My LBS said they were going to do a "fit check" on my bike with me up on a trainer, but all they really did was put me up on it, and say, "Yup, I guess we could raise the stem and move the seat forward" Shouldn't they have taken measurements? Not quite sure what a "fit check" is I guess.
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