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Finished 1st 200K Brevet - Some Questions

Old 03-21-16, 05:28 AM
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Fullcount
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Finished 1st 200K Brevet - Some Questions

Okay, I clicked doing a 200K Brevet off of my bucket list and thought that was the end of that..., but I am thinking of doing another one. One of the guys said that is usually what happens. Like Lays Potato Chips - you try one..., you want another. I have to say, you Rando groupies are a bird of a different breed. But, I kinda like that.

So here are my questions:

1 - I finished my 200K in 11 hours, 37 minutes. Last one in. I am not so much worried about the time, but the amount of effort that went into finishing this. I was worn slap out when I rolled in. Most of the time on the return trip, I was averaging 10 mph. I was going so slow at one point, even the cows were running me down the fence line. Granted, there was a 15 mph head wind the entire 63 mile trip back in..., but nonetheless, I was tired. So I am thinking of swapping components on my two bikes that I have access to and riding the other one with a little better gearing. The Surly LHT that I was riding had 26" tires on it and has a 26,36,48 front chain ring and a 11- 32 cassette. On the way out, I was in the middle ring and riding in the 14 tooth in the back (66.9 GI). On the way back, I was still in the middle ring, but lower at 33 - 39 GI. Mind you, this bike is about 37 lbs bare without bags.

Looking at changing my gear set that would bring this back up to 70 - 82 by swapping components with a Trek 520 (700c tires) that I have, that is 5 lbs lighter. Also looking to get rid of some racks on this bike - make a true rando bike out of the 520. My question is that by swapping the gear set, when riding in the middle ring and getting 82 gear inches out of the drive train instead of 67, will the amount of effort be the same and will I just be going a bit faster (remember, bike will be about 5 - 6 lbs lighter)? Goal is to get down the road a bit faster with the same amount of effort.

2 - Second question. I had some pain, which I expected to some extent. One area was my left back shoulder blade. I could feel it every time I turned my head to check my rear view mirror (mounted on left side of my helmet). The other area was not so much pain, but numbness. I lost feeling on my man parts and it did not come back for about 12 hours. Not the scrotum, but the penis. Is this normal?

I attribute both of these to a fit issue, so I will go back again for another fitting, but the second area of numbness concerns me..., but this may be normal to Rando rides. Oh, and by the way, Body Glide is my new best friend. First couple of centuries I had ridden, I did not use it and had bad diaper rash. Not this time, plenty of the Body Glide and no rash.

Look forward to your responses.
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Old 03-21-16, 07:30 AM
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you have to fix the numbness issue. As you say, it's fit related. I have never found that longer rides are any worse for this problem though. As far as your shoulder goes, I tend to ignore those kinds of pain for the most part. I have done neck-related weights. I'm not sure you are going to fix that with fit.

I wouldn't expect to get a lot faster with a lighter bike. It's going to help you go faster on hills. Tires are important though, if the LHT has slow tires then changing that will help. As far as gearing goes, I'm not sure I would expect to use much different gears.
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Old 03-21-16, 08:15 AM
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Congratulations on your ride.

#2 could be any number of things but you can't diagnose it without a fit session. (Or maybe, without providing photos to people versed in fit on this forum.)

Limited to my own experience:

— Sore shoulder blades are due to too long a reach to the brake hoods. (Note that I said brake hoods, and not handlebars. You flex a great deal when you brake.) This can be remedied with a shorter stem, shorter reach bars, or a shorter frame reach.
— I sometimes will get a sore shoulder if I ride in the drops too much.
— Sore undercarriage can be due to too much perineum pressure from the saddle. Check your saddle angle and make sure that it is not angled up too much. Most people find the best fit with a level saddle, or with the nose angled down 1-2 degrees.
— You might need a saddle with a cutout, especially if your bars are below your saddle.

All that said, riding long distances is a bit of torture to the body. We're not designed for it. No amount of fit will remedy that. You can compensate with technique: varying hand position and your position on the saddle, taking frequent breaks, making sure that your shoulders are relaxed and your back is neutral, and of course — building your core and your cycling technique.


Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post
Okay, I clicked doing a 200K Brevet off of my bucket list Snip.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:04 AM
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#1 What kind of tires are you riding? Tires can be the difference of riding through peanut butter and gliding on ice. If you have a heavy bike with tires to support it...it does not matter what gears you have, you will not be faster. Five pounds is a good deal of weight, any weight you can cut the better off you are. Though, cutting weight off the bike is not nearly as important as cutting the weight of your body. Equally, if not more important, is the aerodynamics of both your posture and the bike. If you have things all over your bike they are slowing you down, especially in a head wind!

#2 Don't waste your money on a bike fit. You spent 11+ hours on a bicycle, things are going to get stiff and sore. I make it a point to stretch every time I take a drink of water on rando rides. Also, at checkpoints, I always lay flat on my back and stretch out for a minute or two. This doesn't prevent me from getting aches and pains but, it helps me tolerate them.
As far as the numbness, you seriously need to evaluate your saddle. The only time I had that kind of numbness is when I had to use those ridiculous race saddles. Now I sport a comfy saddle that gets me through any ride.

Yes, post some pics of your riding the bike. There are plenty of people that will offer advice on these forums.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:21 AM
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I'm glad you experienced "satisfaction" from a 200k bicycle ride. Your questions can be answered more accurately by people that actually ride with you.

As you already know, you need to discover a "fit" - as well as bicycle postures/positions - that allow you to ride without pain.

The big picture - spend some time experimenting with your bikes - without being under the gun to finish an organized ride.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:36 AM
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Fix the numbness issue. It could be that your saddle doesn't suit you, but it's more commonly to do with fit - your weight is being borne by your soft tissues instead of your sitbones, and that's compressing nerves and blood vessels. Make sure the saddle is positioned so that you're sitting on the rear, not sliding forward onto the nose.
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Old 03-21-16, 11:38 AM
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When you ride 63 miles into a headwind, changing gearing around isn't going to fix that. I mean, it might let you ride 10.1 mph instead of 10 mph, but still, the bigger difference is going to be the rider, not the bike. If it's a hilly route, that's a double whammy. Go as light and as aerodynamic as you reasonably can, but don't think buying a new bike or swapping sprockets is going to take you from 10 mph to 15 mph into the wind, either.

On the numbness, that's not normal. When I've had issues there, lowering the nose of the saddle just a bit helped. Maybe a different saddle would help, too. Anyway, you should be in reasonable comfort for 12 hours; that's how people ride 1200ks.

By the way- riding in the drops can help with the wind. Riding in a group will help. Riding with aerobars will help. But a big part of it is just learning the patience to put up with some slow progress in parts.

You may have been wiped out at the end, but one question is, could you take a half-hour break and then get back on and ride? If so, you're well on the way to doing a 300k.

On any kind of numbness or contact issue, taking more breaks or moving around more on the bike will help. But that's not the complete solution, either.
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Old 03-21-16, 01:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post
Okay, I clicked doing a 200K Brevet off of my bucket list and thought that was the end of that..., but I am thinking of doing another one. One of the guys said that is usually what happens. Like Lays Potato Chips - you try one..., you want another. I have to say, you Rando groupies are a bird of a different breed. But, I kinda like that.

So here are my questions: ...
Congrats on finishing!

#1 : Basically you have two touring bikes, LHT and 520. You might as well make one of them be your rando bike for now and not carry weight on it that serves no function. Long-term, if you find yourself doing rando a lot, consider getting a more-responsive frame. Touring tubes are designed to carry a lot of weight that you're not carrying on a rando bike. So they're overly stiff and unresponsive for rando loads. Gearing is probably irrelevant to the problems you had riding into the headwind. Some attention to aerodynamics is helpful--don't have stuff flapping in the wind. As others have mentioned, tire choice makes a huge difference. I am partial to supple tires that are not flatproof, e.g. Compass or Grand Bois tires, or for a bit of a cost savings, Panaracer Pasela (nonTourguard). Possibly an issue on your extended ride into the headwind was whether you were keeping yourself fueled up enough. It can be tough to feel like eating when you're fighting into the wind, and then the low-energy is self perpetuating and discouraging. Key thing is that regardless, you got it done!

#2 : You need to eliminate that numbness problem, unless rando is so much fun that you don't care about the horizontal kind of fun any more. The main source of numbness problems that I had when starting rando was that I was on a saddle that was too narrow to bear my weight on the sitbones without putting pressure on soft tissues. Step 1: Go to a LBS that sells Specialized saddles and have them measure your sit-bone width with their butt-ometer and tell you how far apart your sitbones are. You want a saddle that is wide enough that your sitbones are on top of the saddle. If your sitbones are far enough apart that they are on the sloping part of the saddle then you'll get numbness (and achy sitbones). You also need a saddle that actually supports your sitbones, because if you just sink into the saddle then you are supporting some of your bodyweight on the soft tissues, which will cause numbness. For that reason, many randonneurs use leather saddles. The leather wears in and becomes comfortable and shock absorbent but you don't sink into it. The angle of the saddle matters because if you're constantly sliding forward then you're no longer on your sitbones ... I've never been to a fitter, in part because I found that Peter White's advice on fitting works for me:
How to Fit a Bicycle

For me, Selle Anatomica saddles work very well. Brooks would be fine but even with the longest saddle setback post I can find, they are too far forward for me and I end up sitting on the saddle rail and getting bruises. I've heard good things about Rivet saddles but never tried one, yet. My saddle history as a randonneur: Fizik Arione--too narrow, caused numbness; Brooks Pro--too narrow, caused numbness, killed my sit bones even when worn in; Brooks Conquest (B17 with springs)--eliminated numbness issues, couldn't set back far enough, my butt was black and blue after a 600; Specialized Arione--comfortable for a 600, agony on a 1200, the padding on the plastic saddle is not shock absorbent enough; Selle Anatomica--as close to Nirvana as saddles come, though durability has been somewhat of an issue, over the course of about 60,000km of randonneuring events I've had two that have cracked saddle rails and another two that have reached their stretch limit; I think I'm about 50/50 on whether SA would warranty the issues.

Nick
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Old 03-21-16, 02:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post
My question is that by swapping the gear set, when riding in the middle ring and getting 82 gear inches out of the drive train instead of 67, will the amount of effort be the same and will I just be going a bit faster (remember, bike will be about 5 - 6 lbs lighter)? Goal is to get down the road a bit faster with the same amount of effort.
Changing gearing won't affect the power required, and running higher gears may make you slower because you fatigue faster.

If you want to buy speed, fast tires like Continental GP4000S can net 15W @ 15 MPH over mediocre which is very significant. In the dry season they don't flat more for me than Gatorskins, although with rain it's been at least one every other week.

Aerodynamics will help too, especially when applied to the meat bag atop the bicycle responsible for 75% of your drag.

You'll do better with a snugger fitting top, especially wearing jackets that tend to be over-sized. I have a race-fit wind shell from Louis Garneau which doesn't flap.

You might be able to improve your position. With with a better fit and flatter cutout saddle I found I could comfortably rotate farther forward for a more aggressive position.

2 - Second question. I had some pain, which I expected to some extent. One area was my left back shoulder blade. I could feel it every time I turned my head to check my rear view mirror (mounted on left side of my helmet). The other area was not so much pain, but numbness. I lost feeling on my man parts and it did not come back for about 12 hours. Not the scrotum, but the penis. Is this normal?
It's not normal, and you're risking permanent damage to your pudendal nerve.

Could be too much padding from shorts (I still use shorts with flat synthetic leather chamois on long rides, currently made by Boure) or saddle, or padding that's too soft (Voler's shorts with 120 kg/m^3 foam beneath the sit bones are the only ones I've tried which I'd consider for a long ride). That gives me problems which goes away with less/firmer padding.

It could be saddle shape, saddle angle (potentially dictated by your current saddle shape), fore/aft position, pelvic rotation from handlebar reach/height.

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Old 03-21-16, 03:14 PM
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Let me point out something else as well: Realistic expectations. Right now, I've got about 76,00k in RUSA events. So "lots" of experience at this. My 200k times have ranged from about 7:39 to around 12 hours or so, don't remember the slowest ones for sure. But the slowest rides were due partly to head winds, to cold weather, or hot weather, etc. What I'm getting at, is if I came up there right now and rode that brevet with you, I might or might not be any faster at it. So maybe you'll work on your fitness and get a fast bike and all that, and go cranking out 7-hour 200k's every week. Or maybe you'll just always suck at it like some of the rest of us and just do it anyway. The key in that case is to make sure you're having fun, whether you're fast or slow.
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Old 03-21-16, 04:12 PM
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I prefer to say that I want to get my money's worth out of a ride, not that I suck. Lots of headwind is a way to guarantee that I get my money's worth, that's for sure. I have used all the time available on a 200k a couple of times. I've never broken 9 hours, at least not on a 200k

I was having a bit of a problem with perineal nerve related numbness until I tilted my saddle down just a little. And as Nick mentioned above, use Peter White's fitting advice.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:27 PM
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Congrats!

I'm pretty convinced that some people are more prone to nether-numbness than others. It likely has something to do with where your nerves are located in relation to the other bits in that area. I have the same issue - sometimes I don't notice until prodded, so to speak. I ride a Brooks B17. Been thinking I should try one of the cut-away saddles (Cambium C17 with cutout appeals...)

I went from a LHT to a Soma GR and WOW does it ever make a difference in speed. My pace immediately increased 3+ km/h with the same effort. Likely largely in the tires but geometry and tubing plays big roles as well.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:48 PM
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Thanks everyone. Just got in to read the comments.

I am riding on a Brooks B17 with 2000 miles on it. Prior to this ride, I did two centuries and did not have the numbing issues. Maybe I spent too much time on the hoods on the way back to cut the headwind, and thus placed more pressure on my groin area.

One of the race organizers did take pictures. I will try and post. However the pics were on the ride west with wind at my back.
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Old 03-21-16, 09:59 PM
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Clearest picture of the posture I had coming back..



In town, slowing up a bit.



On the road with wind at my back.

If you see something, please let me know Thanks
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Old 03-21-16, 10:07 PM
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Oh, and by the way, the LHT had 26 x 35mm Continental Comfort Contacts that came stock with bike when bout new 2400 miles ago
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Old 03-21-16, 10:20 PM
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My experience with numbness is that it happens sometimes. If you've done a century without having it, then I'm not sure I would change anything unless you experience it repeatedly. I have found I'm more likely to have it when I'm not in good shape, early in the season. Not sure exactly why that would be.

As far as those pictures go, it looks like you have a stiff neck. Helpful, I know. I'm used to having a certain amount of upper back pain. I really think core strength is the key. There are weight lifting exercises you can do to help that area.

I'm sure you can get faster tires than the stock LHT tires. Bike quarterly is the source for information about that
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Old 03-22-16, 08:38 AM
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Thanks for posting the pics and I think everyone has given some great tips to get ya rolling faster. Looking at your pics, you are pushing a big profile on your bike. IMO gears and a bike are not going to change your speed. Keep on training
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Old 04-19-16, 02:19 PM
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Being on the bike for hours is bound to create some discomfort especially if you are not use to it.
Assuming that yr bike fit is correct some shoulder stiffness is normal. Try to strengthen shoulders, neck and upper back in the gym. Stretch as much as you can on the ride or at the control points. Change position regularly.
As for numbness, make sure yr saddle is level. The worst is a saddle pointing up. Try a different saddle. Saddle choice is totally personal. My best saddle might be yr worst. Once you find a saddle that suits you stick with it. Even buy a second one since suppliers can discontinue models. Try some off the saddle sections during yr ride.
Even after many Brevets and kilos I still feel occasional discomfort after many hours on the bike.
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Old 04-19-16, 03:08 PM
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most people find that a Brooks B17 is more comfortable with the nose up. Since we haven't heard back from the OP, I hope he has solved most of his problems
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Old 04-20-16, 07:11 AM
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Originally Posted by thebulls View Post
...For me, Selle Anatomica saddles work very well. Brooks would be fine but even with the longest saddle setback post I can find, they are too far forward for me and I end up sitting on the saddle rail and getting bruises. ...
This is a common complaint about Brooks saddles. In my opinion problem is anachronism: Brooks has been using the same frame design for the Professional saddle for 55 years or so, and for the B.17 (and related saddles) for far longer. While they haven't changed their design, bicycle frame designers have tended toward steeper frame angles. The steeper seat tube angle effectively moves the saddle forward, and to maintain the correct saddle-to-pedal relationship, one has to push it farther back on the seatpost.
Originally Posted by Fullcount View Post
Oh, and by the way, the LHT had 26 x 35mm Continental Comfort Contacts that came stock with bike when bout new 2400 miles ago
I don't know those tires. If you want really fast 26" tires, Compass has some.
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Old 04-20-16, 09:06 AM
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The OP hasn't posted since March, hopefully he's out riding instead of hanging on our every word. I try not to generalize too much from my early season problems. OTOH, since I finished the Fleche without having saddle sores for the first time ever, I am hoping that's a good sign
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Old 05-06-16, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
The OP hasn't posted since March, hopefully he's out riding instead of hanging on our every word. I try not to generalize too much from my early season problems. OTOH, since I finished the Fleche without having saddle sores for the first time ever, I am hoping that's a good sign
Ooh, still here and still riding. Haven't had a chance to ride another long ride, but I am thinking issues were with fit. Spent the last month on a different bike and haven't had any other issues, so a trip to my lbs may be due. Thanks everyone.
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Old 05-06-16, 09:37 PM
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thanks for checking in
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Old 05-07-16, 09:39 AM
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I highly recommend a professional fit and bike set up.
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Old 06-19-16, 04:58 AM
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fastturtle
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Probably I come too late into an extinct thread but nonetheless.

On gears : an easy change that should make things a little bit more comfortable is swapping the 11-32 cassette for something like 12-28. Less big holes between ratios.

Overall, being exhausted during this long return leg against the wind makes me think of a pattern: You are tired. You are not really sweating consciously so you forget to drink, and against the wind you do get dehydrated. So you get more tired without noticeing it. You stiffen your arms and shoulders. You forget to lift your butt from the saddle from time to time.

In difficult conditions like those you have to consciously force yourself to drink frequently, and to relax those arms and shoulders. And those shoulder and back issues will also improve with exercise.
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