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Older Road Bike Riders?

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Fifty Plus (50+) Share the victories, challenges, successes and special concerns of bicyclists 50 and older. Especially useful for those entering or reentering bicycling.

Older Road Bike Riders?

Old 10-16-21, 10:30 AM
  #26  
zacster
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I only ride the drops when I'm going downhill and leaning into it otherwise I'm always on the hoods. Back in the old days the hoods weren't nearly as comfortable so maybe back then we rode drops, but with bars shaped so that the levers are straight and the hoods molded for hands it is a much better riding position for any serious rider that isn't competing.
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Old 10-16-21, 10:41 AM
  #27  
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Raise Dat Stem!

by Bob Gordon

A flat back is one of the hallmarks of an experienced cyclist, particularly a racer, and over the years I have seen the prevailing attitudes towards rider positioning devolve to the point where if you don't cycle with your back parallel to the ground, you're cast off as a beginner.

But like many other concepts recreational riders adopt, the low back originated in the professional ranks after extensive research in aerodynamics proved this would help the fast go faster. Competitive athletes routinely sacrifice both their short and long term health for the express purpose of winning, but you may have a different agenda.

Lower back disc problems peak the ages of 30 and 50. There are many causes, but if your back pain is exacerbated by riding, it's a good bet the cause is bouncing around on your bike while your lower spine is extensively flexed (loss of lower back arch). A low, forward torso causes the inner portion of the disc (the nucleus purposes) to press back against the outer restraining fibers (the annulus fibroses). This pressure eventually causes the disc to bulge or herniate. The nearby nerves get squeezed, and the next thing you know, someone like me is telling you you have sciatica.

Cycling mitigates some of the problems of a habitually flexed lumbar spine because of the "bridge effect" that's created by resting some of your weight on your hands. But the lumbar region and its soft tissues are still at risk just by being continuously hyper flexed, and if you sit all day at your job, the danger is compounded.

On the flip side, cycling entirely upright does not solve the problem either. True, the inter-vertebral discs and spinal ligaments are in a more neutral position and absorb shock better, but the load is now transmitted axially, which is fatiguing and jarring. Also, in a bolt-upright position you can't use your gluteus or hamstrings to great advantage, which means your thighs (quadriceps) get overworked, you lose a lot of power, the unused hamstrings and gluteal muscles go flabby, and you catch all that wind. It's hard to be happy about all that, racer or no.

There is, however, a position that allows good performance while minimizing risk of lower back injury. I like a stem height and length that puts your back about 50 degrees from horizontal, while your arms and legs bend slightly at the elbows, as shown in figure 2 up there. To achieve this, you'll probably have to raise your bars, and assuming you want to keep the same bar style (as opposed to riding with stingray bars or something), that usually means getting another stem, one with a taller quill or a steep rise to it. If you hit the sweet spot, a photo of you from the side will reveal a nice pyramid composed of top tube, torso and arms.'
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Old 10-16-21, 11:44 AM
  #28  
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I'm 66 and just got a new road bike (Domane) this week.

I've been using a hybrid for the last 3 years and now that I'm retired and riding more, I decided to try a road bike again. Last time I had a drop bar bike was back in the mid 80's. I've only been on one ride on the new Domane, but it was great. No back issues at all but it will take time to adjust to the new riding position and using "brifters".

Sadly, the riding season is about done in my part of the world, so I guess it'll have to wait for next season to really judge how much I like riding a road bike again.
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Old 10-16-21, 11:48 AM
  #29  
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Originally Posted by rumrunn6
at 62 I ride on the road less, on paved trails more. a cpl years ago, near me, a 70yr old was killed in a head on collision on a paved trail w/ another cyclist. go figure ... past few years I've been enjoying dirt trails w/ a MTB, but I started falling off the bike, go figure ... ride on my friend, ride on ...
I moved away from road riding in about 1993 due to growing safety concerns. By then we had a rail trail along the river and now our town has a lot more trails in the area, so there are great riding options that donít include much road riding, if any.

Iím now 58 and, in theory, I could just ride my vintage MTB with touring bars, but I still have a vintage road bike with drop bars. I think I will keep riding that for as long as it is comfortable, partly just for the variety. Iím still very flexible so I can ride bars at about whatever height I want, but I donít take them more than 2Ē below the saddle, while the touring bars are about level.

Otto
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Old 10-16-21, 03:53 PM
  #30  
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During my tour last month I just happened to meet one of the co-authors of ďYounger Next Year.Ē He is now 87 and still riding a drop bar road bike.
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Old 10-16-21, 06:01 PM
  #31  
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>> Raise Dat Stem!

I've had back pain off and on since my youth; I'm 57 now. When I ride a lot, it just about goes away.
And this is how I had my main bike set up this year. It's the most comfortable of the fleet at the moment.
Admittedly, it doesn't look quite right, but it works.
cheers -mathias


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Old 10-16-21, 06:18 PM
  #32  
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I have a friend who is 76 years-old, and he rides a Madone. He kicks my ass every time we get to a hill.
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Old 10-16-21, 07:46 PM
  #33  
ofajen
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Originally Posted by steine13
Admittedly, it doesn't look quite right, but it works.
cheers -mathias

IKR? I mean, black tape with a brown saddle? 😊

Otto
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Old 10-16-21, 07:56 PM
  #34  
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Originally Posted by Random11
Thanks for the reply, Tim. I'm fortunate to live where I can ride year-round. No winter break for me.
I think that might be the biggest thing. In the PNW it's not that much fun to ride every day in the rain and clean-up to too time-consuming, so in winter I do one outdoor ride/week and the rest on my rollers. I've been doing that for the past 25 years, so far so good. Many years ago, I took a winter off. Never again! Took me until September to get it back.

I bought my Trek 5200 in 2000. At 73 I went from a slammed -17į stem to a slammed -6į stem, not that I had an issue, but my fitter thought I might be faster if I could breath a hair better. He also dropped my aero bars from bar-top to bar-under which is actually lower. Whatever. I mostly use the drops to climb OOS as I'm faster on the hoods with horizontal forearms. Mostly the bar-under aerobars freed up some bar real-estate so I climb better on the tops.
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Old 10-18-21, 08:17 AM
  #35  
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Iíve got to think itís very individualized. I suspect thereís quite a few here that will still be riding drop bars until theyíre no longer riding. For me at 69, Iím not seeing a reason why I wouldnít continue to use drop bars indefinitely. They come in handy riding in the wind and also pulling friendly pacelines. Iím fortunate to continue to have excellent flexibility so maybe that helps. My biggest question is when might I just lose interest. I know Iím not as ďexcitedĒ about riding as I once was but I still enjoy it. For me itís all about finding and planning new adventures or doing something different.

My brother continues to ride drop bars but raised his bars to where his drops are now not much lower than what the hoods once were. He likes the various positions it offers and now is more upright.
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Old 10-18-21, 10:17 AM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by Random11
Two months ago I bought a Cervelo Caledonia. I'm very happy with the bike, which fits well and is a good match for my regular rides. But one thing I briefly considered before buying is how much longer I'd want to ride a bike like that, or even be able to ride a bike like that. I'm 71, and curious about older riders' experience with road bikes. Are you older than I am and still riding a drop-bar road bike? Did you give up riding a road bike for some reason and turn to something else? I know as I'm asking that everyone's experiences are different and I should just keep riding the bike as long as it suits me. But I'm wondering if I'll still want to ride that bike in 10 years. How about 20 years? How about 30 years, when I'm 101? One thing about buying a bike when you're older is that you really can think that the bike will last you the rest of your life.
....
....
so a question to answer a question... Are you being Rhetorical or are you really asking these Questions ???
Are you planning about things you MAY NOT or WON'T be able to do OR are you planning for ways to do the things you WANT/NEED to do ???
... for me, I'm waking every morning and planning to be 100% Dog... one thing I've learned from all the dogs in my life, and those who come by to say 'hello' (I'm currently enslaved by cats... LOL!) is - BE 100% in EVERYTHING I do ! Have a passion about everything important to you.
I love Cycling, among other things... cycling, I believe, is a main reason I'm successfully combating a serious health crisis these past 5 yrs. Cycling (mostly roadie), among others things I've done, are also involved in much of my 'learning' by failing or by succeeding.
so, I'm trying to understand, consider and plan HOW I will continue to Ride as I age further. Will you do the same?
not surprisingly, my physical being will need strength, flexibility, cognition & penetrating thought, healthy body functions - all interconnected.
Maintaining and improving all that are now JOB #1 for me.
I'm 72, but I don;t feel 72 mentally. I'm often surprised when I can't do something I could at some close prior age... then I realize, maybe I need to 'prep' more... LOL!
However long I might have, I plan to be on a 'hard ride' until reaching that terminus...
I'm 'riding' into a dark labyrinth, which is, thankfully, shed with some light from those who 'ride' before me. Everyone at an older age, everyone who is more 'challenged' by issues possibly greater than mine. Everyone who has a passion for what they do.
Robert Marchand - Cyclist and Involved Human
I may not have the 'stuff' he was made of, but I'm gonna do my best.
I have way too many bikes to think I need another.- Vintage roadies I raced, newer roadies I raced, MTBs, town bikes, my real Opa's fiet .. but that may change... taking one Roubaix and it's becoming a 'gravel bike'...
If I can continue to ride them all, in my Life's Ride, I'll be a happy guy...
Don;t plan for what you might not be able to do - Plan HOW to do the things you Love ! Change is inevitable, and where you end up is undefined. but BE where you feel most alive.
Ride On
Yuri

Last edited by cyclezen; 10-18-21 at 10:23 AM.
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Old 10-18-21, 11:04 AM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Ludkeh
I'm 73 and still ride my Specialized Roubaix. But I realized that I've become much less flexible. The drop bar setup was for my younger self. (my mind thinks it's 30 but my body says "I don't think so" !) So I added a stem extension,letting me sit more upright. It makes my riding much more comfortable. Not very aerodynamic but I really don't care. I'd rather not have a stiff neck and numb wrists.
i have the same bike. I am only 63 so I will learn from your advanced age experience.
What stem extension did you get?
So far I am good riding the hoods but I donít use the drops. If I get more decrepit as I get older I might get an extension.
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Old 10-18-21, 11:22 AM
  #38  
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I'm 67, been riding drop bars for 35ish years. I used to have the tops 4 inches below the saddle but now less than 2 inches below. I've had a couple back injuries and I'm not super flexible but I can't imagine riding into a headwind or chasing fast riders or pulling a group without drop bars.

My main bike has shallow drop, short reach bars. I can still stay in the drops for extended pulls. Now my heart seems a little wonky and it may be the weak link. A friend who has a-fib worse than I do has started using a drop bar e-bike. If I do get an e-bike it will be with drops.

The other age related issue I have is cars. I am pretty tired of riding close to cars and have tried to avoid traffic more than ever. A normal weekend used to be club rides Saturday and Sunday with lots of traffic but this weekend I rode the mtb Saturday and a bike path Sunday. No cars.
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Old 10-19-21, 07:54 PM
  #39  
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Originally Posted by cyclezen
....
....
so a question to answer a question... Are you being Rhetorical or are you really asking these Questions ???...
Don;t plan for what you might not be able to do - Plan HOW to do the things you Love ! Change is inevitable, and where you end up is undefined. but BE where you feel most alive.
Ride On
Yuri
Good attitude, Yuri. That was a real question. My new Caledonia seems like a great bike for me now, and I was wondering how long I'd be thinking that. But I bought the bike I wanted now, rather than think about buying a bike that might suit me in 10 years. My hope is... this will still be the bike.
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Old 10-19-21, 10:46 PM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by Random11
Good attitude, Yuri. That was a real question. My new Caledonia seems like a great bike for me now, and I was wondering how long I'd be thinking that. But I bought the bike I wanted now, rather than think about buying a bike that might suit me in 10 years. My hope is... this will still be the bike.
My parents, for quite some time when I was in the early 'Tween' years, would buy all my footwear in size 12 (frugal meant we could always pay the bills...). I grew v-fast from age 10 to 14...
I never did get much bigger than a size 11...
I'm all for 'Be Here, Now'
Over the next 10 years you might already have/get, an mtb, a gravel bike, a TT bike (or maybe not... LOL!) and most likely some version of an E-bike ...
or you may wander away from riding... (hopefully not)
planning is really important, but losing sight of ' this moment' , I believe leads to regrets.
All we really, truly have is 'Now'
Ride On
Yuri - coffee mug philosopher...
EDIT: when I finally started buying my own footwear, for at least a yr or 2, I bought it all 1/2 size too small.... LOL!

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Old 10-20-21, 05:32 AM
  #41  
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I don't know to what extent it will change with age (I'm only 63), but I find drop bars much more comfortable. Leaning forward seems easier on the back to me and my wrists appreciate the hand positions.
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Old 10-20-21, 11:59 AM
  #42  
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I too am 71 and I still ride a bike I put together in 1974 or 1975 but it is a 10-speed with downtube shifters. I prefer my newer 20-year old bike with handlebar shifters which are be best invention after the derailleur. I added a triathalon bike and later a full suspension mountain bike (which I gave to a friend's son) and recently added an electric road bike and a hardtail XC bike.

I have been riding drop bar bikes since I bought my first real road bike in 1967. Especially going up a hill the drop bar makes all the difference in the world in my ability to use my body's muscles, legs, back, stomach, to its fullest. On a trail the drop bars would be a disadvantage and to I prefer mountain bikes to gravel bikes as do most riders. Only drawback for me is finding space to store our 7 bikes and probably 8 bikes by the end of the year. Putting up a bike shed to provide space for 4-5 of them.

I think the biggest upgrade one can do with most road bikes is to buy new wider rims that will take a 28mm or wider tire. There has been the mistaken belief that one needed a 23mm tire to have the least amount of rolling resistance and to put up with the harsher ride. Now even the pro racing teams understand that rolling resistance is not significant as it is air drag that most most affects the rider's speed on the open road. I can go with 85 PSI with a 28mm road tire but I need 115 PSI with a 23mm road tire to support my weight.
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Old 10-20-21, 03:52 PM
  #43  
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There is some merit in planning for the future, but it depends if your Cervelo will be a 10 year or more adventure.

The two areas to be mindful of are gear changes with age and handlebar height.

Knowing your options before you need to make a change keeps you from posting where can I find questions down the road.

Handlebar height is a bit different as it can go from just flipping a stem to needing a fork with a longer steering tube, depending on the material.

If your Cervelo is fine for now but you have no problems moving from it when the time comes, then neither of these matter.

John
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Old 10-21-21, 06:17 AM
  #44  
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I've had neck issues for almost 30 years, am 68 now. Used to be a lot more painful but has evolved to where it mostly limits my mobility. Still, can't imagine riding anything but drop bars, mine are about an inch below saddle height. It's hard for me to look up when riding but I've adapted, glasses have to be rimless, no visor , light helmets etc. On the hoods mostly, but on long flats I'll go to the drops for fun, but can only look up and see the road every 50 yds or so. Helps to be in a rural area. The Stenosis moved south to my lower back, but if I concentrate on my core holding me up then I've no issues while riding. Push the navel towards the bars and core takes over, shoulders and elbows relax. Upright /flat bar bikes put my neck in a weird position, kind of like a Heron. Just can't do them.
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Old 10-27-21, 06:57 AM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by late
Raise Dat Stem!

by Bob Gordon

A flat back is one of the hallmarks of an experienced cyclist, particularly a racer, and over the years I have seen the prevailing attitudes towards rider positioning devolve to the point where if you don't cycle with your back parallel to the ground, you're cast off as a beginner.

But like many other concepts recreational riders adopt, the low back originated in the professional ranks after extensive research in aerodynamics proved this would help the fast go faster. Competitive athletes routinely sacrifice both their short and long term health for the express purpose of winning, but you may have a different agenda.

Lower back disc problems peak the ages of 30 and 50. There are many causes, but if your back pain is exacerbated by riding, it's a good bet the cause is bouncing around on your bike while your lower spine is extensively flexed (loss of lower back arch). A low, forward torso causes the inner portion of the disc (the nucleus purposes) to press back against the outer restraining fibers (the annulus fibroses). This pressure eventually causes the disc to bulge or herniate. The nearby nerves get squeezed, and the next thing you know, someone like me is telling you you have sciatica.

Cycling mitigates some of the problems of a habitually flexed lumbar spine because of the "bridge effect" that's created by resting some of your weight on your hands. But the lumbar region and its soft tissues are still at risk just by being continuously hyper flexed, and if you sit all day at your job, the danger is compounded.

On the flip side, cycling entirely upright does not solve the problem either. True, the inter-vertebral discs and spinal ligaments are in a more neutral position and absorb shock better, but the load is now transmitted axially, which is fatiguing and jarring. Also, in a bolt-upright position you can't use your gluteus or hamstrings to great advantage, which means your thighs (quadriceps) get overworked, you lose a lot of power, the unused hamstrings and gluteal muscles go flabby, and you catch all that wind. It's hard to be happy about all that, racer or no.

There is, however, a position that allows good performance while minimizing risk of lower back injury. I like a stem height and length that puts your back about 50 degrees from horizontal, while your arms and legs bend slightly at the elbows, as shown in figure 2 up there. To achieve this, you'll probably have to raise your bars, and assuming you want to keep the same bar style (as opposed to riding with stingray bars or something), that usually means getting another stem, one with a taller quill or a steep rise to it. If you hit the sweet spot, a photo of you from the side will reveal a nice pyramid composed of top tube, torso and arms.'
Good advice by whomever Bob Gordon is. For decades I raced and rode in the flat back position with a saddle height that was significantly above the top of the bars. I'm now 51 and have upper neck/shoulder issues (pain/numbness) that I am convinced is from years of riding in what I see now is a position that is very bad for the neck and back.
I now ride with the top of my saddle level with my bars and it works fine. Slightly less aerodynamic - I suppose - however my average speed is virtually unchanged, and, I no longer race so who cares?
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Old 10-28-21, 02:14 PM
  #46  
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Back in 2005 I had a road bike and an mountain bike. I got my first recumbent, and neither of the earlier bikes ever turned a wheel again. In 2011 I added a trike. Now the trike is used is town on trails with all the stops and starts. The bike goes out of town on bike club rides. The comfort and view from the recumbents just cant be beat.
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Old 10-28-21, 02:30 PM
  #47  
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I'm only 63, but the way I approached that situation is keep my racing bikes, but I also got an MTB with a flat bar and a British 3-speed as well. Why not take all the chips?
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Old 10-28-21, 03:09 PM
  #48  
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I'm 62, a dyed in the wool roadie (literally) with a fleet of drop bar road bikes. OP, I'm younger than you and I've already stopped worrying about the future. Buy/ride the bike that fits you and your style of riding right now, then go ride the hell out of it. When and if the time comes to buy/ride something else, do it. As you and most of us that have lived on this earth for more than six decades, worry is a waste of time and time is precious.

Last edited by nomadmax; 10-28-21 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 10-30-21, 04:40 PM
  #49  
Calsun
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When I have gone for a period of time with no multi hour rides my neck and shoulders get sore and I need to relearn to consciouslyy relax the muscles when riding. I will stand in the pedals at times to give my body a change of position and this helps a good deal. I want the drops to go up a steep grade as I can use more of my stomach muscles when doing so.

I was experiencing vertigo have a bad fall and I went to doctors and a PT and a regular chiropracter and go no improvement. The doctor wanted to put me on meds but these would make me drowsy which is not really an improvement. I finally found a chiropractor who practiced Active Pressure Release. When I would lie on my back the room would spin. One 30 minute session with this APR practitioner and my vertigo was fixed. The problem was one of nerve impingement which he corrected.

Studies of eighty year old active cyclists has found that they are performing at the level of someone 30-40 years younger. Key to their heath was the combination of long rides and a healthy largely vegan diet.
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Old 10-31-21, 02:43 AM
  #50  
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Seventy-one years old here and I'm still riding a road bike, single speed and a touring bike with drop bars. My seat is pretty much level with the top bar and I find the position very comfortable. I ride on the hoods and use the drops only occasionally. I find that the stretched out position actually is good for my back and helps with flexibility. I imagine that if I went to a full racing position with the seat much higher my ride would be much less comfortable.

I'm an experienced cyclist and if Bob Gordon (see Late's comment above) wants to characterize me as a beginner, so what. I'm well past caring about peoples unfounded perceptions.
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