/ A couple of cycling issues.

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Tony the Blade on 24 Sep 2013

Beginning to rack the miles up on my treader now, 55 miles last Sunday. I'm cycling in next Sunday's Bath to Bournemouth ride - For BHF.

I'm having a couple of issues that I don't know how to iron out. I bought my first ever road bike a few months agao and I've had my set up done by a professional so I don't think it's a stance issue, but could be wrong. Anyhow...
1) After about 15/20 miles I start to get pins and needles in my left lower arm, I can usually shake it out within a matter of seconds. It got quite problematic last Sunday as I struggled to change my front gear due to numbness in my hand.

2) I get quite a neck/shoulder ache after about 40 miles, eased if I look down but this is obviously not a desired riding stance :-)

So there we go, any tips and/or advice gratefully accepted.

Thanks, TtB
ThunderCat - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:
>

> 1) After about 15/20 miles I start to get pins and needles in my left lower arm, I can usually shake it out within a matter of seconds. It got quite problematic last Sunday as I struggled to change my front gear due to numbness in my hand.
>
I bought a couple of bars that fit on the end of the handlebars. (not sure what they're called but they make the handlebars look like a set of cow horns).

Anyway, it lets me change my grip from hands-flat-palms-down to palms-inward, and I find that doing this stops the pins and needles settling in.

I once did a 100 miler in scotland without changing position and I had a couple of numb fingers for over a week...started to worry that i'd done some permanent damage but it seemed to eventually fade.

FrankBooth - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:
I used to get quite bad neck pain with my previous handlebar stem which was just a bit too long, resulting in my arms over-stretching. If you had the bike professionally fitted I would have thought that would have been taken into consideration though.
The stem that came with my bike was 120mm IIRC, and I switched to a 100mm one.
Johnny_Grunwald on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

On point 2:

I had my bike set up by a so-called professional and suffered from neck and back pain for ages. I think he had a racing profile in mind rather than a setting it up for a MAMIL (Middle Aged Man In Lycra)who just wanted to push out the miles without breaking any records.

I got some allen keys out and rotated my handle bars back towards me slightly. This effectively pushes my shoulders and neck back into a more upright postion when I have my hands on the hoods. Neck/back pain gone completely.
nniff - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Spend some money on some good gloves with decent padding in them - spend more than you think is reasonable!

Change your bar tape to something more forgiving - the Lizard Skins stuff is good - it comes in three thicknesses - and keep on top of it - re-do it when it starts to migrate off the corners of the bars. If you are getting numb fingers, change your position as soon as you notice it and give the poor squashed nerve a chance to recover.

As far as neck ache is concerned - MTFU - it will get better as you get stronger - IMHO.
balmybaldwin - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Your bike fit (was it a proper bike fit or was it a mechanic in the shop judging it by eye as offered in many bike shops with a new bike as a fitting service?) may be the ideal position, but is not necessarily the position that's right for you (or right for you now whilst you are getting used to it.)

It sounds like you have too much weight on your hands. It might be worth raising your stem if you have spacer above it, or getting one with an uplift built in (sorry, my vocab has abandoned me today)

How good are yur gloves? get some with good shock absorbing pads if you haven't already?, also some people find an extra (or one extra thick) layer of bar tape can help

What width wheels are you running, and at what pressures? over a long distance dropping the PSI by 10-15 at the front can make a big difference to comfort and vibration without causing any more road drag

Try varying your position a lot more, drops, hoods, top bar, standing, seated etc to relieve aches.

Unfortunately if you are still new to the distances, your neck and shoulders will ache until you are used to it (and even then will probably still ache on wet/cold days)
Tony the Blade on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to all:

Very many thanks for replying, really appreciated.

So, for 1) it sounds like I need to consider minor adjustments to my handlebar/stem height (and yes the set up was done by a cycle mechanic at an independent cycle shop), extra padding by either thicker padded gloves or extra/thicker bar tape and more movement of my arms/hands.

and for 2) I need to MTFU as it will get better (or maybe not)!

Thanks again chaps.
TimB - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Even the best cycle fit should probably only be regarded as a starting point - 20 minutes with someone in a shop is not going to reproduce the effects of a 2+ hour ride.

Bear in mind that "minor adjustments" really are tiny. I was reading about an Australian bike fitter who recommends changing saddle height in 3mm increments. That's mm not cm!
balmybaldwin - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to TimB:
> (In reply to Tony the Blade)
>
> Even the best cycle fit should probably only be regarded as a starting point - 20 minutes with someone in a shop is not going to reproduce the effects of a 2+ hour ride.
>
> Bear in mind that "minor adjustments" really are tiny. I was reading about an Australian bike fitter who recommends changing saddle height in 3mm increments. That's mm not cm!

Yes, and only change one thing at a time where possible, otherwise you can't tell what change helped.

Also bear in mind that the thing you are changing might have 2 effects... e.g. changing saddle height will also change it's horizontal position forward or backwards of the BB on all bikes that don't have a perfectly vertical seattube (I don't know of any other than TT bikes). Changing the angle of the stem will change bothe the height and reach to the handlebars etc.
ATRG on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:
Numbness in the bands might result from tension in the neck (the nerve gets constrained so you get referred numbness) so there is a chance that if you sort out problem 2, problem 1 will also disappear. Anything that puts less of an angle in your neck will help, but it might be worth improving your flexibility so your existing position becomes perfectly comfortable.

Google Cat Stretch or watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ktfq8ySodYg

He is not the most attractive creature on youtube demonstrating stretches but quite a few of his videos are useful.
nniff - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Adjusting the bar position is worthwhile - I was told (by a bike shop at the top of the tree) that the bar position I had was ridiculous. They asked how long I could stay on the drops - about an hour I said. THey looked surprised and insisting on changing them to a 'better' position. I could cope with that for no more than two minutes, so back they went to the way they were before,

Best way I've found is to ease off the bolts so that they just grip the bars. Pedal off down a smooth road (bumps are very bad with floppy bars) and move them to the most comfortable position you can find. Coast gingerly to a halt and tighten then up. Check that the hoods/brakes are in a viable position and that you can reach the brakes readily.
Marek - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:
Probably not very helpful in the short term, but I had much the same issues when I first started riding a road bike. Eventually over a couple of months, my body just seemed to get used to what is a fairly unnatural position and ceased complaining. Ask yourself: is it getting better or worse?
The only other thoughts are: make sure your shoulders stay relaxed, i.e., don't let them hunch up on top of straight arms when you get tired. If you do, your 'suspension' is gone and your miseries will multiply.
Orgsm on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

When you had your cycle fit what requirements did you give him? Being cycle fitted for speed is nt the same as cycle fit for comfort etc.
alan ashmore - on 24 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade: I had exactly the same issues, first I flipped the stem up the other way which saw a miner improvement, still not happy I upgraded to a set of compact bars (FSA Omega compacts) check em out on youtube ,with some 5 mm bar tape and OMG what a difference no pins and needles , can stay on the drops longer can look back over shoulder without wobbling now and cornering is so much more stable.
Hope that helps
Tony the Blade on 25 Sep 2013

Wow, thanks guys, so much to take in!

I think that for this weekend I'll pretty much leave it alone and just make sure I stretch and take regular breaks and shake outs.

However there is a lot of food for thought for the future.

Many thanks for all comments - I really do appreciate it.
In reply to Tony the Blade: Do consciously move your hands to different positions on your bars. I have a bad habit of riding on my hoods 95% of the time, but if I get pins and needles in the hands, just moving to the drops or flat bit is often enough to get rid of them.

If you're on a cycle path or smooth, empty road, you can just sit up and ride no handed for a bit whilst shaking out - that often works. And then finally, with pins and needles I've found that letting a tiny bit of air out of my front wheel can help, which maybe suggests I've over pumped it to start off with!
thedatastream on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade: I'd echo the above point of small changes in position making large differences. I've noticed moving my saddle backwards by 10mm makes a world of difference to how much power I can put down.

I've flipped my stem (so that it points more up than down) and angled my handlebars upwards slightly. This makes the bike so much more comfortable to ride. Also I can't do the low riding position / neck bent right back to see as I had an argument with a rock a few years ago and the resultant neck injury has affected my tilting head backwards flexibility (which is why I also use belay glasses).

A friend once observed that you never stop tweaking your bike setup so that it is just right. I'm beginning to think he may have been right...
mike123 - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade: not heard the term treader for years. made me think of an old climbing mate (thats the only way he ever refereed to a bike) who used to wander along bowden in his wellies and motor bike gear looking a very unlikely crag rat, he would get to the end and make childs play (proper hard in them days) look just that, much to the consternation of various stars of the day.
anyway back on topic. who did your bike set up and how did you find them ? i m getting knee pain on my roadie and think the bike just needs tweeking by somebody who knows what they are doing.
Siward on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to mike123: I'm a beginner at this road biking lark but after a good few rides out I concluded that I was putting too much weight on my hands- numb forearms from the vibration going through them.
What I did, with amazing success, was to tilt my saddle back ever so slightly. I think it had been inclined forward and I essentially moved it back to the horizontal. Definitely felt the difference in weight distribution albeit the adjustment was a small one.
JohnnyW - on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to mike123:

...and in reply to the OP.
I have gradually upped my cycling, using a flat-barred hybrid for training and commuting, and my roadie for decent rides. On either bike, once I am over 40-50 miles, the gap between my shoulder blades becomes very sore. I also suffer with the numb hands on bumpy roads, and have been to all sorts of knee specialists.

All the advice above is valid, but I would say this - On a recent 984m 9-day John o Groats to Lands End ride, NOTHING I did helped totally after about 4 days. I relax my sholders constantly, Look hard downwards (which burns like hell, but seems to help), stretch, move about, have fiddled incessantly with the set up. My knees hurt permanently, and seem to take it in turns.

Only protracted exposue to such an unnatural thing to do helps you cope IMO, and as one guy said, you just have to accept that it hurts sometimes, when all else fails.

The good news is that once you stop, it gets better! ;) My shoulders lost the feeling in a patch for about a week, but it came back. My knees suffered no lasting damage (as the doc said they wouldn't cycling), and I did my first Cuillin Traverse a month or so later as well as a big Alps trip. My hands get better almost immediately. Don't ask how long the swollen Achilles took though.....

Etape de Pennines in a week or so, and I'll suffer like fcuk I'm sure, but hey ho! ;)
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deanstonmassif on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to Tony the Blade:

Tony

You might also want to look at the angle of your saddle. A bike mechanic with a racing mindset would tend to set you up so that the saddle feels it is sloping towards the front - this puts your weight forward and more over the pedals (gets you 'on the rivet' in cycling parlance). Unless you are Eddy Merkxx, you would probably prefer the saddle a little flatter so that your body weight is not always sliding forwards and bearing onto your arms/hands. A tiny adjustment can make a big difference here, although any racing friends of yours may put a ruler against your saddle and then call you a fanny/tell you to MTFU/excommunicate you.

I have suffered shoulder pain over the years arising from a misplaced enthusiasm for playing hooker as a 10-stoner. Small tweaks to bike set-up are the answer, and also make a conscious effort to breathe deeply and relax the shoulders whenever you can remember to do so. I also change my hands from hoods to drops to bar tops pretty frequently as I ride. Lastly, changing the spacers on the headset can raise the handlebars up so that you are less tucked up like Mark Cavendish and more open chested like a mountain-biker.

Roll on. Nick
Siward on 25 Sep 2013
In reply to deanstonmassif: Great minds think alike and all that...

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