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Riding a street bike at 64 years old.

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Riding a street bike at 64 years old.

Old 07-29-18, 08:54 PM
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robertj298
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Riding a street bike at 64 years old.

I purchased a beautiful Lotus Unique a couple months ago. I love riding it but the one problem I have being 64 years old
in the riding position is with my neck.Not being as flexible as I once was my neck tires easily from being
tilted up so much to see ahead. At this age are there stretching exercises that will help with this or should
I just stick with the hybrid I have? Heres a photo of the bike.

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Old 07-29-18, 10:36 PM
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It looks like the top of the bar is at least a couple inches below the saddle. It might help to raise the bar, you might need a different stem. and if the bar is too far away you might also consider a shorter stem. I like the bar about an inch and a half below the saddle.
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Old 07-29-18, 10:43 PM
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Learn to look thru your eyebrows. Seriously.
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Old 07-29-18, 11:24 PM
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Takes awhile to get accustomed to a drop bar road bike. Plan on lots of gradual adjustments to your bike and body to adapt.

I rode one in the 1970s-'80s as a teenager and into my 20s for commuting, weekend rides, centuries, etc. But in 2001 my neck and back were broken when my car was t-boned by an SUV. Took more than 10 years to recover enough to even consider riding a bike again. I rode an upright comfort hybrid for a year, then a rigid frame/fork hybrid for another year.

After two years cycling again I was ready to try a drop bar road bike. It took a lot of adjustments to the bike and my body. For the first month or so I needed to elevate the stem to get the handlebar top to saddle height. And I put thick foam padding on the handlebar to cushion my neck against road vibration. Gradually over the next six months I lowered the stem and made other adjustments. I installed a shorter stem to reduce the reach -- much more comfortable and efficient. My bike was originally designed for time trials, not regular road races or rides, so the original longer stem was more aerodynamic but very uncomfortable. After almost a year I had settled on a stem/handlebar height about 2" below saddle height. That seems to be the sweet spot for me right now, between comfort and efficiency.

Meanwhile I did lots of stretching and careful exercises to improve the flexibility and strength of my back and neck. The neck will always be a problem -- the C2 was splintered and took years to heal, but is much thicker than normal and grinds. The neck and shoulder muscles are always very tight, and got worse recently after I was struck by a car, breaking one shoulder and dislocating both.

I didn't want to lose too much conditioning after being hit by a car in May so I kept taking long, brisk walks the first few weeks, then tried the road bike on an indoor trainer. I use the trainer about three times a week and try a road ride about once a week for 20-30 miles since late June-early July. Usually results in a lot of pain afterward so I'll take a day or two off before using the trainer again.

Lots of stretching, isometric and isotonic exercises without weights. I tried light weights for awhile but it aggravated the shoulder so it'll be months before I can handle any weights. Still can't do regular floor pushups but can do partial pushups leaning against the wall and kitchen sink height. I can support my upper body on the handlebar tops and hoods for most of a ride, and on the drops for up to a minute at a time for sprints, climbs or into headwinds.

Approach it gradually, have patience and you'll get there.

Also, if the road bike bug bites, you'll eventually want a more modern road bike with brifters and far superior ergonomics to old school road bikes. I test rode a Specialized Tarmac recently. Huge difference in comfort, efficiency and ease in climbing.
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Old 07-30-18, 03:16 AM
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A taller stem would probably help. Nitto makes some, and Velo_Orange and Soma Fabrications carry taller stems. The Soma Sutro is the most economical, but Nittos are a little nicer.
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Old 07-30-18, 05:32 AM
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First thing I would do is to get a fitting so that you are in the most efficient and comfortable position on that bike. The fitting will take care of any issues with your stem or saddle.

I'm 72 and ride a road bike exclusively. I also have limited neck flexation and rotation, as well. A mirror helps with seeing who's behind me. What type of mirror to use is up to you because mirrors, like saddles, are a personal preference. That being said, when I started riding a road bike, I used a helmet mirror and really liked it. I think you'll find that most people will agree with helmet or eyeglass mirrors for most riding styles. I no longer use one because I have found that they don't work well when using aerobars or riding in the drops.
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Old 07-30-18, 06:11 AM
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OP says his neck is simply getting tired.

If tired muscles are the problem then it will go away as they muscles get stronger through use. Time and riding will fix the problem simply from holding the head up repeatedly.


-Tim-
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Old 07-30-18, 06:46 AM
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Maybe try a larger frame bike. My optimal fit frame size was 59cm when I was younger. Now I ride 61 and 62cm frames, mainly to get the bars higher.
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Old 07-30-18, 06:49 AM
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I had the same problem, and at the same age. I went to a physical therapist (who also rides), and he gave me an upper body stretch to do as well as a brief routine with a foam roller. It has worked great for me.
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Old 07-30-18, 07:04 AM
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The seat post might be above the minimum insertion line. If the saddle is at the right height for you, then the framemight be too small,
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Old 07-30-18, 03:11 PM
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The first thing I would do is check my fit on the bike. Assuming that is good I'd work with an LBS pro (not just some kid who works at the LBS) to make modifications. I'm 72, broke my neck and had C1 & C2 fused about 5 years ago I ride this.....
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Old 07-30-18, 03:12 PM
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See how much higher you can get the bars. And roll the hoods back a bit. This will make a huge difference.
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Old 07-30-18, 03:37 PM
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Take your bike to a bikeshop and have your fit on the bike checked to make sure you're not too stretched out. If so you could try an adjustable stem to raise the bars a bit. Other than that just keep riding, your body will adapt. I'm 68 and have a more aggressive setup than your Lotus. My neck and shoulders get a little stiff after a couple of hours on the bike but it passes.
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Old 07-30-18, 04:11 PM
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1. Test-try leveling the saddle. I find that nose-down causes too much load on my hands.
2. With an elbow against the nose of the saddle, make sure you can at least touch the horizontal top part of the handlebar. If not, you need a shorter-reach stem.
3. As others suggested, the situation may improve as you accumulate time in the saddle.
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Old 07-30-18, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by big chainring View Post
Maybe try a larger frame bike. My optimal fit frame size was 59cm when I was younger. Now I ride 61 and 62cm frames, mainly to get the bars higher.
As long as the taller-framed replacement does not also have a longer top tube. I really liked my Peugeot PKN-10, but gave it to my elder son, who is taller than I am, as much because of top tube length as top tube height (seat tube length).

Here is how I am set up, although I have subsequently raised the handlebars another cm or so (and shortened the brake cables). Frame size of 55cm C-T is my sweet spot.
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Old 07-30-18, 05:36 PM
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You need to get your bike fit right before you dismiss using a road bike. If that saddle height is right for you then the frame is a little on the small size to fit you since you have a lot of seatpost showing (for a vintage bike that is). This means that with a normal height stem you may not be able to bring the stem high enough to be comfortable so should get a taller stem (i.e. Nitto Technomic) as suggested by other posts above. I'm also 64 and I ride my vintage bike with the tops of the bars pretty close to level with, or even slightly above saddle height. Also, a prime contributor to neck pain is having too much of your body weight supported by your arms. This is often caused by having the saddle fore-aft position too far forward relative to the pedals, requiring that you push against the bars to hold yourself up (which concentrates force in your neck). Saddle fore-aft position should be set properly before messing with the bars. Slide the saddle backwards until you can support yourself easily with your core muscles with very little to no pushing against the handlebars. After you get that figured out, get a stem with the right height and reach to comfortably ride the tops of the bars.

Also, be sure not to confuse bike setup tips for current sloping top tube bikes with setup for vintage bikes like the Lotus. For this reason you might get better answers in the Classic and Vintage forum.
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Old 07-30-18, 06:18 PM
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Muscles that are unused to the position will strengthen up, as long as you're not pinching nerves. Just ease into the longer miles. I get asked the same thing about my avatar bike: doesn't your neck get tired? At first yes, now, no.
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Old 07-30-18, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
OP says his neck is simply getting tired.

If tired muscles are the problem then it will go away as they muscles get stronger through use. Time and riding will fix the problem simply from holding the head up repeatedly.


-Tim-
Exactly...he has not been riding very long. Neck and core muscle strength should increase over time. Ride and ride often.
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Old 07-30-18, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by robertj298 View Post
I purchased a beautiful Lotus Unique a couple months ago. I love riding it but the one problem I have being 64 years old
in the riding position is with my neck.Not being as flexible as I once was my neck tires easily from being
tilted up so much to see ahead. At this age are there stretching exercises that will help with this or should
I just stick with the hybrid I have?
Yes, there are :stretches: or routines that can make you more flexible. That bike is set up much like mine, I'm older than you, so it is not strictly speaking an age thing,

The fit that was suggested is a fine idea. But yoga and other PT routines can make you quite a bit more flexible, and that will have a significant beneficial affect on your overall health. Losing some weight often results in much the same. Questions is, are you looking for a easy fix or a meaningful fix? The fact you can't ride a road bike set-up could be a wake-up call,
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Old 07-31-18, 01:02 PM
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Alternate rides between bikes as you gradually build up miles on the Lotus. (Lovely bike.)
Meanwhile, try some exercises/stretching. And fit adjustments, etc.


If all else fails.....................................................I really appreciate the comfort of my recumbent bikes.
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Old 08-01-18, 08:36 PM
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Keep riding and you will get stronger. I bet it feels better now than it did 2 months ago when you started. That is a cool bike but maybe a bit small. After two open heart surgeries 6 weeks apart and I finally got back on the bike, my upper body didn't assume my riding position and I was as noted above, "looking through my eyebrows" and not very far up the road. For a couple months, as I rode, I contemplated turning my roadbikes into roadsters and tried to convince myself that would be ok. Well, slowly, I got enough mobility and strength back that I stopped planning on turning my roadbikes into hybrids. Love that Lotus. Are there more pictures of it somewhere?
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Old 08-03-18, 10:22 PM
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As several others have said, just ease into it. Quit before your neck starts to hurt, no matter how short a ride that seems. I'm 70, I live in snow country. I used to quit riding and just cross-country ski in winter. Every Spring I would go through what you're going through now. Finally I smartened up and now I do at least one session on the windtrainer a week just to avoid that. I'm still able to ride the same position I did 30 years ago, however, I have to stretch regularly or everything hurts.
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Old 08-04-18, 08:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Patriot1 View Post


Exactly...he has not been riding very long. Neck and core muscle strength should increase over time. Ride and ride often.
Very good advice .I am becoming more accustom to the position and it's getting easier and while I haven't gone more than 15 miles my speed has increased dramatically
I've gone from averaging 12 mph over this distance to averaging 15.4 mph. Now I just need to increase my distance without stopping.
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