When it comes to bike comfort, many people get it all wrong. No pain, no gain is simply not how anyone should approach cycling.
1) Smooth and Steady Assessment.
Cycling is such a fantastic form of fitness because it is low impact, relatively gentle on the body. If you’re uncomfortable when you ride, you’re counteracting so many of the benefits of biking. Assess what hurts, where and why.
2) Get a Bike Fit.
If you’re having any discomfort when you ride such has hands that go numb, sore shoulders, fatigued neck or a strained back, you should see a bike fit specialist. For about $100-300, a bike fit expert can spend time analyzing how your bike is set up in relation to your body position. To make the most of this visit, bring a list of questions and areas that ache when you ride, just to ensure you don’t forget anything.
Be prepared to spend more; the bike fit expert may recommend a longer stem, different saddle, etc. Be prepared to spend the money on these items. The next time you take a long ride you’ll be oh-so-glad you did!
3) Buy Good Gear.
Those shorts you bought because they were on sale even though they don’t fit right? Nah, gift them to someone who will fit into them better. When you’re in it for the long haul, you need to know your gear is going to help you perform at your best, not distract you or hold you back.
Some people like longer shorts, others shorter. Some people like a fitted jersey waist, others refuse to wear jerseys altogether. It’s entirely up to you. You may need to experiment a little to find your favorite riding apparel. And hey, if it looks cute and makes you feel strong, it’s worth spending a little extra for the confidence.
Invest in good gear from reputable brands and it will last for a long while. And if it fails early, return it to the manufacturer and ask for a refund.
4) Eat Well.
What fuels your ride? Each of us have different nutritional needs, but food certainly plays a role in the comfort of your ride. There are many packaged foods out there geared toward athletes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re good for you, or right for your body’s needs.
Experiment well before your distance ride to find what’s right for you. A good starting base is healthy, fresh foods that are as unprocessed as possible – like a hard boiled egg, carrots, peanut butter sandwich or a smoothie. Figure out what’s good for you in advance, during and after the ride.
We’ve found that many people do well with a healthy, protein rich breakfast, regular snacks and bananas along the way, then a recovery smoothie afterwards. Watermelon is an excellent post-ride recovery option that’s surprisingly loaded with nutrients. Check out our Watermelon Recovery Smoothie.
5) Relax and Stretch.
It pays to stretch out a little before your ride. You don’t need to do anything too intense, just some slight stretches to get the body warmed up. Stretch your calves, thighs, your ham strings, your neck and do some upper back and spine twists to loose up your back. It’s also a good idea to stretch your hips with some butterfly stretches – but be gentle here if you have tight hips or inner thighs.
Along the ride, if you’re feeling fatigued or pain anywhere, take the time to hop off the bike and stretch out that area a little.
And afterwards, roll around a little and gently stretch out the sore spots. Then soak in a hot tub, have a beer, eat a healthy dinner or do whatever else will help you relax and feel rewarded!
Joyride on June 11 is a brand new women’s event from the ride experts at Cycle Oregon. This one-day event features routes from 16-60 miles that start and finish at Soller Vineyards, a gorgeous estate setting in Dundee Hills of Dayton, Oregon.