Many people ride in pain, and there’s no reason for that. At the end of a long ride, if you’re feeling extremely achy, chances are you need to make some adjustments. Sure, distance riding is a lot of work, but with the right set up and some training you should be feeling pretty darn good – albeit exhausted – at the end of the day.
A good stretching regime that supports your biking muscles is a good idea. And we’re not just talking before and after a ride. A weekly yoga class or home stretching will go a long way. So will mid-ride stretching in the areas where you know you tense up.
Light stretching before a ride and relaxation stretching after a ride can go a long way toward keeping your muscles loose and healthy.
If you’re one of those riders who goes all out, you’re probably tensing certain areas to work harder. That’s not smart. You can be just as effective in your hard pushes without tensing unnecessary muscles. It’s important to ride loose and only use the muscles needed for bursts of power.
As you’re riding, take a minute to scan your body from head to toe. It can take a bit of mental effort to focus on each area and notice that you are actually gripping areas you didn’t realize you were.
Common as it is to get a little saddle sore on a long ride, or particularly with consecutive days of long riding, there’s not a lot you can do about it once it sets in. The best remedy is prevention.
* Use a quality lube that works well for you, and use a lot of it. Ruby’s Lube is all natural.
* Invest in a chamois that fits you well and has a lot of padding.
* Find the saddle that works for you when you’re not wearing a chamois, and it will be the right saddle for you when you are wearing one.
* Take saddle breaks: stand for stretches of time and re-adjust your chamois.
If you’re waiting until you’re thirsty to drink water, you’re waiting too long. Drink regularly to keep your body feeling good. Read more about hydration in our Hydration Station article.
One good way to regulate is to drink every time you pass (or stop at) a water stop, rest stop or for a bathroom break. Drink at least half your bottle each time. Drink water every time you think about it or it comes up in conversation. Down your bottle before you refill. These little tricks will ensure you’re getting in plenty of water. Alternate between dosed water (added electrolytes of some sort) and plain water.
And if they yucky taste of plastic water bottles has you down, use stainless steel. You can get a sucking-style pop top cap and you really won’t notice the extra weight. Water always tastes better coming from a stainless steel water bottle.
Even with the best gloves, your hands are bound to go numb from time to time if they’re in the same static position. For some people, it’s easy to tune this out, but it’s also dangerous. In the event of an emergency braking situation, you need your dexterity.
1) Get a good glove with padding or gel, depending on your preference.
2) Avoid a strong bend in your wrist. Try to keep a straight line from your forearm to the top of you hand.
3) Vary your hand position. Move your hands around the bars every few miles.
4) Shake em out. Periodically (or when they’re numb), shake out your hands while riding. Roll your wrists and get the blood flowing again.
5) Strengthen and stretch your wrists with exercises designed to prevent carpal tunnel syndrome.
GET A BIKE FIT
For $50-$300, you can get your bike custom fit for you. Not all bodies and bikes are the same, so simply jumping on your bike may not be the way to go. Fit specialists can fine tune your positioning and make recommendations for modifications that will have you riding comfortably right away. It’s a small price to pay for preventing what could become a serious injury over time.
Micheal Sylvester is widely regarded as one of the best bicycle fitters in Portland, and he’s got 20 years of experience to show for it.
Pedal PT is a bike-loving physical therapy clinic that specializes in bike fit.
Many bike shops also offer bike fit services. It’s important to help the fitter understand your style of riding so you can get an appropriate fit.
GO YOUR OWN WAY
Just because all those pro racers are hunched over and in their drops doesn’t mean you have to be. If you aren’t comfortable, don’t do it. Sure, on a downhill or windy day you want to be a little more aerodynamic and you might want to reduce resistance, but you don’t need to ride that way – especially if it’s not a comfortable position for you. Don’t be afraid to go more upright or make other bike adjustments that are going to allow you to ride happy for miles and miles.
WHAT’S YOUR COMFY RIDE?
How have you made adjustments for a comfy ride? Share your ideas in the comments below.