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positional madness- where is perfect ?

Jul 22, 2009
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I've been road riding seriously for nearly 20 years; I tend towards the longer distance stuff. One thing that gets me is this constant need to adjust my position. Seat post up, down, seat fwd, aft, tilt etc. even an alteration of 3mm seems to make a world of difference; one day good, then thereafter bad- meaning more adjustments. The seat seems to be orbiting a zone perhaps 1 inch diameter- I do sometimes try an extreme, just to shuffle-the-deck; but wind up working my way back to the proverbial zone. I try to avoid messing with my cleats (to spare injury to my knees) or stem too much ( I am quite happy with my out of saddle efforts). Sometimes I try to live with the position for a few months, othertimes I see no reason to waste time/energy on an inefficient position. I try to avoid making adjustments on the road- having broken seatpost binders without a spare on hand etc. but will try something on the way home if I've become too sore or dead- usually a small change is like drinking clean fresh water then. But it gets stale on later rides.

I have been habitually recording my adjustments maintaining consistent points of reference and have observed certain positions will lead to either back (seat too far back) or knee pain ( too far forward). I try to stay with the same frame for a few years- but by mishap or folly, I can't really compare one frame to the next. It drives me nuts though needing to adjust after having thought I had the perfect position established.

Perfect for me allows me to go up steady grades seated in the big ring. Lets me jump at the lights and accelerate alongside the draft of traffic without bouncing in the seat on the way home from a long ride. Lets me roll 53x14 on the flats for a few hours, or pull along into a mild headwind without needing to downshift.

Is this a phenomenon caused by continual physical changes in myself ( I'm 46) ? or is this a symptom caused by an incorrect position altogether ? do other riders experience this ? I suppose that when I'm dead and can no longer ride it will settle down- but I hope that it will long before then.

Thanks for your indulgence.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Laszlo said:
I've been road riding seriously for nearly 20 years; I tend towards the longer distance stuff. One thing that gets me is this constant need to adjust my position.

Is this a phenomenon caused by continual physical changes in myself ( I'm 46) ? or is this a symptom caused by an incorrect position altogether ? do other riders experience this ? I suppose that when I'm dead and can no longer ride it will settle down- but I hope that it will long before then.

Thanks for your indulgence.

Jeez ... I'm no biomechanicist, but it sounds to me like you're doing it to yourself by constantly changing position. The body takes a while to adapt to things, so you're probably confusing the crap out of it by changing things around all the time.

I'd also ask what the general state of your muscles is? Do you stretch and get massages often? Have you had a major crash at any stage? (Or in fact any crash that has involved you twisting your back as you've gone down - no matter how minor it may seem?)

And you say that you ride a couple of hours in 53x14 - at what cadence? My guess is that you'll be spinning a lower cadence - if not, then you're pretty damn strong to consistently spin that over 90rpm - and are probably also tightening up muscles/overloading them. Try spinning a lower gear more and see what happens.

Overall, my advice would be:
- get a professional bike fit - and then don't touch the set up!!!
- get a postural and muscular assesment - and back it up with massage, yoga classes and stretching
- get someone to check out your riding style - as I say, I'm guessing you're over-gearing, so try spinning more in lower gears and see what differences that makes.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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kiwirider said:
Jeez ... I'm no biomechanicist, but it sounds to me like you're doing it to yourself by constantly changing position. The body takes a while to adapt to things, so you're probably confusing the crap out of it by changing things around all the time.

I'd also ask what the general state of your muscles is? Do you stretch and get massages often? Have you had a major crash at any stage? (Or in fact any crash that has involved you twisting your back as you've gone down - no matter how minor it may seem?)

And you say that you ride a couple of hours in 53x14 - at what cadence? My guess is that you'll be spinning a lower cadence - if not, then you're pretty damn strong to consistently spin that over 90rpm - and are probably also tightening up muscles/overloading them. Try spinning a lower gear more and see what happens.

Overall, my advice would be:
- get a professional bike fit - and then don't touch the set up!!!
- get a postural and muscular assesment - and back it up with massage, yoga classes and stretching
- get someone to check out your riding style - as I say, I'm guessing you're over-gearing, so try spinning more in lower gears and see what differences that makes.

+1... Totally agree, especially with the professional fit. I had a fit done recently and he used an online tool to determine my fit (http://www.wobblenaught.com/default.asp). It looks like you can even do the fit yourself using this online tool.
 
Jun 19, 2009
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Cobber said:
+1... Totally agree, especially with the professional fit. I had a fit done recently and he used an online tool to determine my fit (http://www.wobblenaught.com/default.asp). It looks like you can even do the fit yourself using this online tool.

All that plus a note I made on the Cadence thread that applies: your saddle is long enough for different positions. Good climbers vary their position. If you're jambed at the back of your saddle in a Pro crit you are probably off the back. Don't assume the "correct" position assumes you'll never move forward or back or need to get out of the saddle. The best position seems to be the least stressful at high cadence.
 
Jun 9, 2009
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Some of your back issues might have more to do with your riding habots than your position. The human body craves movement, and a variety of movement is always best. I won't bore you with the neurologic basis of this statement, but it is undeniable. Based on this premise, it is important to be dynamic on the bike.

On long rides, I make it a point to sit up no hands every once in a while, stand and pedal at least once every five minutes for fifteen seconds or so, ride at varying cadences depending on terrain, and always focus on being as relaxed in the upper body as possible.

Some old adages prove true:

If you wait until you are thirsty to drink, you are doomed.

If you wait until you are hungry to eat, you will likely bonk.

Similarly, if you wait until you are in pain to stretch while riding, you are past the point where you can really do something about it.

The other responses regarding fit were great, but don't rely on measurements and expert advice alone. Be dynamic on the bike and you will have more fun and less pain in your riding.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Thanks for your input. I had three informal fittings over the years, which were fine at first, but despite my best intentions to leave things I wound up making adjustments.

My cadence will vary according to how I am getting along with my position; when I am comfortable 88-89, but as the position wears over consecutive rides it will drop below 60- that's when I say enough is enough and change things. I have had a twisting back injury caused by a car ages ago. What drives me nuts is how a seatpost adjustment of 3mm makes a world of difference- sometimes the post slips down that much on a ride that is going wrong and after I stop and bring it back up to my mark.

I try to get my wife to massage my legs after a long ride- but the best I can get is a backrub, maybe. Actually, I'm pretty hyper for a few hours afterwards. I don't stretch as much anymore- as my rides are less intense in terms of effort than before.

I've used some of the online fit-kits- but there's a lot of variables citing pedal systems, sole thickness etc. so I have a grey area which is about where my seat is. I can't stand the chamois in bike shorts and cut them out.I don't move around much on my bike- I'll go ages in increasing thirst, soreness or other discomfort ( like sweat on the brow ) before I move or do something about it- it's why I like a camelback so much. I generally focus on the task at hand and just grind out the miles hour after hour. On my really long rides I move around a lot more, especially early on shifting to lower gears and standing on climbs to reduce the fatigue buildup- but on short ones I try to make everything a bit harder to build up my strength. Meat grinder.

I have to say I am a little surprised as I expected other people to chirp in that my experience is normal and that they too need to make adjustments from time to time. But this is the first time I've thought to bring this experience to such a large and varied audience.

I have observed that the positioning science seems to have evolved over the years too. Sufice to say that generally I tend to sit back on the saddle, hands on the tops and use my quads than my hamstrings- I'd love to get more aero but can't hold my head tilted up to see the road to stay in the drops for long.

I recognize that everyone who has deigned to post a reply here has done so with the best of intentions to help solve this dilema- but this has been pretty much my experience this past nearly 2 decades. How I like to sit and how I like to ride has stayed fairly constant- it's just the where I sit seems to always be changing.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Laszlo said:
I've used some of the online fit-kits- but there's a lot of variables citing pedal systems, sole thickness etc. so I have a grey area which is about where my seat is. I can't stand the chamois in bike shorts and cut them out.I don't move around much on my bike- I'll go ages in increasing thirst, soreness or other discomfort ( like sweat on the brow ) before I move or do something about it- it's why I like a camelback so much. I generally focus on the task at hand and just grind out the miles hour after hour. On my really long rides I move around a lot more, especially early on shifting to lower gears and standing on climbs to reduce the fatigue buildup- but on short ones I try to make everything a bit harder to build up my strength. Meat grinder.

Well... no chamois will have a huge affect on your comfort on the bike. I would invest in a good pair of shorts and keep the chamois in them!

Stretching is also very important and I would advise that you stretch after your ride to keep your leg and back muscles loose. The reason you have to constantly change your saddle height might reflect, in part, changes in your flexibility?

I am not sure what your saddle is like but this is also an extremely important component of bicycle comfort. If you saddle is too flexible it will not be comfortable. I use a Fizik Arione and it is very comfortable.

I think if you invest in a good pair of shorts, a good saddle and get your seat in the correct position, your comfort will improve greatly. Good luck!
 
Jul 23, 2009
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Hi Laszlo, I will not likely add anything that you have not already considered or tried. I used to meddle with the bike whenever I felt uncomfortable but I have since found that some yoga and high quality shorts made a great difference. You've already heard that from others, hopefully hearing it from a former fellow bike-meddler will help. Like everything that works, it takes time to accept the adjustments. I also wondered about your cadence drop in light of the gear ratio you posted. Maybe you are suffering to push the 14 tooth and eventually the ride just becomes uncomfortable as the body starts to wear out.

Best of luck, discomfort can ruin a great ride.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Oldman said:
All that plus a note I made on the Cadence thread that applies: your saddle is long enough for different positions. Good climbers vary their position. If you're jambed at the back of your saddle in a Pro crit you are probably off the back. Don't assume the "correct" position assumes you'll never move forward or back or need to get out of the saddle. The best position seems to be the least stressful at high cadence.

+1
Man in a crit i am all over my saddle, sometimes i am on the very tip trying to get maximum RPMs then later i am utilizing a little more power, pushing a harder gear from the hoods & the back of the saddle, thats a huge difference in fore aft position.
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Laszlo said:
Thanks for your input. I had three informal fittings over the years, which were fine at first, but despite my best intentions to leave things I wound up making adjustments ...

I have had a twisting back injury caused by a car ages ago. What drives me nuts is how a seatpost adjustment of 3mm makes a world of difference- sometimes the post slips down that much on a ride that is going wrong and after I stop and bring it back up to my mark.

I try to get my wife to massage my legs after a long ride- but the best I can get is a backrub, maybe. Actually, I'm pretty hyper for a few hours afterwards. I don't stretch as much anymore- as my rides are less intense in terms of effort than before.

I've used some of the online fit-kits- but there's a lot of variables citing pedal systems, sole thickness etc. so I have a grey area which is about where my seat is. I can't stand the chamois in bike shorts and cut them out. ...
I generally focus on the task at hand and just grind out the miles hour after hour. On my really long rides I move around a lot more, especially early on shifting to lower gears and standing on climbs to reduce the fatigue buildup- but on short ones I try to make everything a bit harder to build up my strength. Meat grinder.
....

I recognize that everyone who has deigned to post a reply here has done so with the best of intentions to help solve this dilema- but this has been pretty much my experience this past nearly 2 decades. How I like to sit and how I like to ride has stayed fairly constant- it's just the where I sit seems to always be changing.

Man ... there is a lot in there ....

Your last para sounds like a classic response from someone with chronic pain ... "I've had the pain and even though you're telling me that I haven't done everything I can to address it (or am doing things that keep it there) I think I have and it is now a part of who I am". Ready for it ... that's bull****!!!

Sorry to put that to you straight up, but think about it ... As someone who had chronic back problems (what happens when you throw yourself at the road at 70km/h+ ...) I can sympathise with you ... to an extent. But I also need to tell you to "snap out of it" and that you need to have a fresh look at all of the possible solutions.

Another part of why I say not to count things out is that you seem to equate an amateur "treatment" with a professional one. For example you say you had a couple of "informal fit sessions" and you talk about getting massages from your wife. Now unless you are (like me) lucky enough to have a wife who is a professional massage therapist, the massages your wife can give you wont do anything near what a professional therapist can do for you. Likewise, unless those informal fits are from people who are seriously practised at fitting, they may well have set you wrong.

If your seatpost is slipping, that could well be contributing to your problems too. It may be slipping as you go along and be constantly affecting your position and your ride. It also indicates to me that you are fiddling with your bike way, way too much. My seatposts never slip on my 'crosser or MTB - let alone my roadie - because I know my seat height, have set my seats to it and have left them alone!!

You say you don't stretch as much any more. That'll also be doing you in. News flash - you're 20 years older than when these problems started and flexibility decreases with age. If you have an office job or a job that keeps you in a single position (or limited range of movement), then you'll be exacerbating that lack of flexibility. STRETCH!!! STRETCH SOME MORE!!! Go to yoga classes and get a proper/professional massage on a regular basis. All of these together can make a big difference - but don't expect it to happen over night and don't give up if you don't see an improvement immediately (which is a common response of chronic pain sufferers - see my first paragraph again).

Also you say you were in a car crash - did you get your spinal alignment checked out after that? Did you get anything done to address any spinal issues at the time? I carried a seriously twisted L4 and L5 for about 3 years before anyone could address it (osteopathy and chiropracty weren't well known in NZ at the time I had my crash). It took me a good few months of osteo and then a good six to nine months of once a week massage (I rarely stretched at that stage - and didn't do yoga regularly either) to clean it out. Now I am stronger and fitter than I was 10 years ago ...

The use of the words "grind" and "meat grinder" make me really wonder about your riding. As has been said elsewhere on this thread, it sounds like you're just wearing yourself out. Unless you're trying for inclusion in your country's world champs squad, what have you go to lose by restricting yourself to riding in the small ring and making sure that you're spinning above 90 rpm for a couple of months? Give your body a rest, lay yourself a good base and then after all of that, think about putting in some big ring riding in your rides.

Oh yeah ... do you have a really good friend who understands the problems that you're having? If so, gather up all of your 4mm, 5mm and 6mm allen keys (ie., whatever you'd use to adjust your seat) and take them around to their place. Tell them to keep them secure and ask them if it's OK to come over when/if you really need to do some work on your bike. Also make sure that they don't let you adjust your seat position if you do come over to work. And make sure that if you have any multi-tools or whatever that you ride with normally, take them across as well. I'm 100% serious in this - if as you say you're an insatiable fiddler, you need to remove the means for fiddling with your bike, and therefore the temptation to fiddle ... As I say, 100% serious.

I make no apologies if any of this sounds harsh - or if you think I'm the biggest arsehole to post on this forum. My comments are motivated by a genuine desire to help you - a complete stranger who is obviously desparate enough for a fix to their problems that they are prepared to ask a whole bunch of other complete strangers for help. If you're really looking for help - then you're ready for whatever response we give. If you're looking for reinforcement of your belief that there's nothing you can do - you're in the wrong place (and are definitely not getting it from me!).

Good luck - and I hope that you are soon on the path to pain free riding. :)
 
Jun 26, 2009
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Laszlo said:
I've been road riding seriously for nearly 20 years; I tend towards the longer distance stuff. One thing that gets me is this constant need to adjust my position. Seat post up, down, seat fwd, aft, tilt etc. even an alteration of 3mm seems to make a world of difference; one day good, then thereafter bad- meaning more adjustments. The seat seems to be orbiting a zone perhaps 1 inch diameter- I do sometimes try an extreme, just to shuffle-the-deck; but wind up working my way back to the proverbial zone. I try to avoid messing with my cleats (to spare injury to my knees) or stem too much ( I am quite happy with my out of saddle efforts). Sometimes I try to live with the position for a few months, othertimes I see no reason to waste time/energy on an inefficient position. I try to avoid making adjustments on the road- having broken seatpost binders without a spare on hand etc. but will try something on the way home if I've become too sore or dead- usually a small change is like drinking clean fresh water then. But it gets stale on later rides.

I have been habitually recording my adjustments maintaining consistent points of reference and have observed certain positions will lead to either back (seat too far back) or knee pain ( too far forward). I try to stay with the same frame for a few years- but by mishap or folly, I can't really compare one frame to the next. It drives me nuts though needing to adjust after having thought I had the perfect position established.

Perfect for me allows me to go up steady grades seated in the big ring. Lets me jump at the lights and accelerate alongside the draft of traffic without bouncing in the seat on the way home from a long ride. Lets me roll 53x14 on the flats for a few hours, or pull along into a mild headwind without needing to downshift.

Is this a phenomenon caused by continual physical changes in myself ( I'm 46) ? or is this a symptom caused by an incorrect position altogether ? do other riders experience this ? I suppose that when I'm dead and can no longer ride it will settle down- but I hope that it will long before then.

Thanks for your indulgence.

If it makes you feel any better, Merckx was notorious for continually adjusting his seat position. Even mid race! We all have good and bad days so dont always assume it requires positional adjustments. Minor seat adjustments can compensate for how your legs are feeling on any given day.
The style of racing you are doing is also a factor ;
Crit racing requires a higher seat position than long distance stuff and the same on the track. Short sprint events will be different to that of a six dayer.
Generally speaking though your position is determined by your individual anatomy and radical changes should be avoided as it can lead to stress injuries.
 
Jun 18, 2009
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Laszlo said:
I can't stand the chamois in bike shorts and cut them out.

That is seriously hard core. There's a world of difference betwee cheap chamois and the more expensive ones. Also, use a chamois cream too. Makes a world of difference.

I have no idea how you could ride for a couple hours without a chamois in your shorts.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Kiwirider thank you for your input- no offense is taken as none was intended- seriously, I could've cried but held back (joking). also Beroepsrenner, I like to think I might be just like Merckx was- with the same potiential that is.

I don't really suffer much pain on my rides- all things being relative; I might get hotfoot during a really long ride, then I loosen my shoes and move my feet around, spin a lighter gear for a bit and the pain disappears; and my **** might get a bit pained too- but not unbearably so, and certainly not something that couldn't be expected, all things considered. The symptoms that cause my need to fix my position is just a continual slowing and deadening, loss of snap, that goes from one ride to the next. Then on the way back I'll think about where I need to move my seat to bring things back up- then I'll stop make my adjustment and see how things go - often it seems to be the perfect position has been located- and so the cycle continues. I come back and tell my wife, "hey I think I finally got it !" as if she hasn't heard it a hundred times before.

I was thinking maybe I just need a different frame, so using photoshop I superimposed a jpeg of an old bike I used to ride with my current one and matching the wheel diameters and locating the bottom bracket as a common visual reference point I was able to observe that my seat is fairly much the same location as on my old ride- just a few mm....that's always in flux it seems-always this need to move the seat a few mm more or less here or there and it is just driving me nuts!!!!

I don't race but I used to have very short intense rides commuting between my longer ones; nowadays I don't have the time and oppourtunity for the short tuning sessions so I have to make due with the days I can get out and ride- so sometimes it seems there is a refamiliarization process that is ongoing- but I've always had this need to adjust my position slightly. My bike on a home trainer does not give me the benefit of finding a useable road riding position- 20 min, 30 min max due to overheating in the winter are just good for some fitness- but as soon as I get on the road with it I have to move things.

It is possible the 170mm cranks are too long for me- I know that according to the measurement tables I've seen I'm on the border between 165-170mm recommendation- but I'm afraid to hurt my knees with the lessened leverage and the ammount of climbing I like to do.

I am always optimistic that I have found my position on the bike- even today, as I write this I this I have it finally- but I won't be surprised just frustrated if tomorrow or in a few weeks I have to say I had to adjust something.

The only chamois shorts I had that I liked were a Sugoi pair that were really really nice- too nice in a way, sorta like a woman.... But I haven't found a need for chamois, my bike seat Selle Italia Flight SLR, the Trans-alp used to be the most comfortable seat in my apartment (I had sparse furniture). Chamois just builds up heat and sweat, and crushes my you-knows- just as some people seem aghast at my not having a chamois so, too, am I that some do. But at least I don't have the varying thickness of the chamois as a factor in my seat position.

I am going to go on another long ride tomorrow. I'll stretch beforehand, try to move around during and think about some of your suggestions here.

Thank you all. Safe rides.
 
laszlo,

i think i have some insight as an expert meddler...

some others have talked about changing positions even while seated. this is 100% correct. i ride all over the saddle but there is nothing random about it. it usually has to do with gradient/gearing which in turn relates back to cadence as Oldman suggests. as the grade steepens/goes uphill i generally slide toward the back of the saddle. as the grade moves to a false flat or near level i move to a neutral middle position on the saddle. when riding on the flat or slightly downhill (higher cadence) i move increasingly forward on the saddle. At the same time when moving from back to front on the saddle my upper body moves from upright and higher hand positions to a flatter back and lower hand positions respectively. this is a compromise of comfort, efficiency, and aerodynamics. i am not always sitting perfectly on the "sit bones" as some suggest which is an oversimplification. riding without a chamois will make these changes in position nearly impossible. riding without a chamois and with your weight towards the back of the saddle the entire time will also cause you to fatigue more rapidly...hold that thought we'll come back to it in a minute.

a little meddling is ok. i have a formal education in biomechanics (trust me, i know what i'm doing) and i still meddle (mostly because i lose flexibility during harsh philadelphia winters and gradually gain it back thru spring and summer) . what you've described sounds like way too much tho. you may be producing less power in the later parts of a ride due to fatigue and misdiagnosing it as bad positioning. complicating matters a little further you may be warming up and becoming more flexible after a few miles so what feels right at the beginning of a ride might not feel correct a few miles into it. late in a ride you're likely most flexible and sometimes you make a change that feels very wrong at the beginning of your next ride.

i have a feeling based upon your photoshop experiment that your position is not far off, but the earlier advice is quite good. you should...

Short term:
1. buy good shorts, for you i'd suggest some shorts meant for racing which have light but very good cushioning. they are much better than none, cutting out chamois's is ridiculous, stop it immediately
2. get a professional bike fit, your head is a little screwed up right now and you need this reassurance. describe any joint/flexibility problems up front, try their suggestions for a week or two without meddling, if you have pain/discomfort seek their advice again, a good fit is about feedback and dialogue, it's not always perfect the first time especially with joint/special concerns
3. ask for their exact measurements so you always have a reference point. really good systems will collect and save your personal data for you but you should have a copy of this for yourself. (my favorite fit system right now is called retul but is not available everywhere)

Long term
4. make flexibility a priority as others have stated
5. make a personal commitment to learning about positioning. no rush but make the next book you buy instuctional. read it at your leisure. positioning is an extremely difficult problem to solve via the forums and you don't want to spend a fortune on fitting sessions.
6. i know you don't want to hear it but be smart. serious discomfort may mean you have to adjust expectations of training volume/intensity. Not everyone is cut out for epic 6 hour rides. Don't let your own enthusiasm be your downfall.

good luck!
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Thanks lean,mean,&green what you, and others say does make a lot of sense.

I set out for a near double century miles out and back route; it went well the 1st 2 1/2 hrs then I started to feel a bit sick...I think it was the extra heat we recieved lately, I continued another 30 min till I was halfway there but had to pause in some shade as I was getting dizzy. At that point I soaked my cap in some water and started back. Not counting today, I've done 3 100 mile+ rides the past 4 weeks, interspersed with a number of other rides none less than 100 k (60 miles). I am familiar with century, double century and a few "extras"- but I don't have the opportunity to ride on a daily basis anymore.

I tried to stay light on the bike, geared down a bit ( and somehow geared up when I wasn't paying attention ) and stood a lot more than usual. I did forget to stretch before (because it has't been a part of my routine for awhile now)- and I did not know to stretch afterwards- but I've done that. Coming back, mostly downhill, even with a bit of a tailwind was a bit of an ordeal in part because my calf muscles got very tight (which hasn't happened in a long time), and seated, it felt like the pedals were too far and I did some heel down stretches on the bike. I also got a bit of lower back pain- and I think that was caused by the standing efforts on climbs as I tend to bend right over and lean pretty far forward. By the time I got home, feeling much better, I sprinted the last 2 sets of lights as per usual hitting my maximum flat speed and highest cadence of the ride, a sports drink mix with ice and a cool 20 min. shower later and I was ok.

I did not have the urge to adjust my bike today; perhaps if I had continued instead of doubling back when I did I might have had to- seeing how my calves got tight and the ride was more difficult despite favorable winds and general drop in elevation. My symptomatic urge to adjust my position does not occur on every ride, just generally as the number of rides accumulate so too does the desire to try to fix a diminishing performance and capability.

I find it almost insane to think that a seatpost adjustment of 3mm can manefest a world of difference during a ride- however this has been my experiece, sometimes. I understand the idea of leaving things and learning to adapt, but how do I know when my last adjustment was the perfect set up ? By performance right ? So when the performance wanes over the course of a few weeks and my mind starts telling me I need to move my seat here or there because I am getting slower, cadence or power dropping, I really see no other alternative but to listen to what my mind and body is telling me, and try to change the equation a bit.

I've a number of books, and read a ton more positioning articles; I've examined a lot of profile shots of pros and seen a wide wide range of setups there. But I liked Steve Hoggs DVD- Sitting Pretty- which seemed to make the most sense for me.

But upon further reflection, even though I've tinkered with my bikes before when I did a lot of stretching, - I think it is possible that because I haven't been stretching I've been witness to more dramatic effects lately.

Well, now I hope that routine stretching won't cause me to engage in a new round of adjustments....

Thank you.

Hey kiwirider, want to wife swap for a bit ? Shes a great cook (if you only like chicken and rice)....
 
Jun 16, 2009
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Laszlo said:
Hey kiwirider, want to wife swap for a bit ? Shes a great cook (if you only like chicken and rice)....

Hmmm .... let me think about it ... free massages or chicken and rice .... free massages or chicken and rice ... I'll get back to you on that one! ;)
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Perhaps I missed it, but I don't think I saw you mention your leg length or frame size? I'm asking because of the "3mm" bit. I'm the same age as you, ride a 53 c-c (have for a long time), legs are about 32 inch (bare feet, measured via the "book between the legs" method), femurs slightly longer than lower leg, short feet (size 41/42). I have always been "position sensitive"; particularly in overall height and setback and I could feel about 3-5mm. Ridden 170 cranks for all but about 2 years, those 2 I picked up a new bike that came with 172.5 and could not get comfortable with them. Using the same old saddle (Regal, best damn saddle ever made), carefully set height from bottom bracket and setback, always felt like I was stretching too much at the bottom of the stroke. Dropped by 2.5mm, killed my knees across the top (a total of 5mm lower at the top). Honestly tried for 2 years to get comfortable. Couldn't, so I slapped a set of 170 on reset to old height, haven't touched it in about 5 years now.

So, try the 165 cranks if you've got short stubby legs and short feet, climbing should not be an issue just a lower gear. Try a saddle with firm padding (an old Regal, Concor, Turbo), stay away from gel inserts, try shorts with a decent chamois (Specialized body geometry racing style are pretty comfortable). Pro fits can be good, but make sure you are differentiating between "soreness from a hard effort/new position" and "pain from something being damaged". If you are feeling pain, the position isn't right for you. It may be theoretically better, but if you can't ride in it without damage, it's worthless.

Oh, stretch, especially afterwards when the muscles are warm. Doesn't take much time and you will gradually see benefits

All just my opinion based on my experience being an old guy that is position sensitive.
 
Jul 22, 2009
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I took my measurements here ( I haven't done in ages ) I measured a 27.5" / 70 cm inseam, I'm 170 cm/ 5' 5" and size 44 shoes. I am currently riding a 48/52 frame, and using 170mm cranks. I like a firm narrow seat, it lets me move the point of contact and give relief where needed.

I looked at the ISM seats reciently as I had a more forward seat position and the nose of the saddle was giving old norton and the boys a bit of trouble- but I have since moved the seat back because althoug I was realizing a good cadence and in the drop areo capability my knee was not pulling up at the top of the stroke, but was being forced- if I moved the seat up to compensate then I'd be too far at the bottom of my stroke. Another problem with the forward position I wasn't able to sustain seated climbing - I couldn't get far back enough, or ride with no hands, and steering was too twitchy.

I like to test out my positional adjustments on some longer climbs, seated using the 53 and somewhere in the middle of the cogset because I feel if I can go up in a relaxed manner then the position will give me the support I need for a long ride. It has been my experience to realize some of my best spins were coming back late at night after a long day out- of course I am a bit weak to push a big gear up some rolling berms and stuff but my cadence was wonderfully smooth, and I could see a 100-110 rpm for a kilometer or two without burning out. Did I adjust my bike then ? yes, from time to time but not as frequently. The cranks were standard 170 mm.

I really appreciate your input mercycle, I am committing to a lot of frequent stretching and will be considering 165mms if my experence does not improve.
 
Aug 13, 2009
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Wow, shorter legs than mine :) Everything you were saying sounded a lot like what I've gone through, which is why I asked about leg length and foot length (shoe size). Perhaps some of the professionals (bike fit and physiologists) can add more, but anecdotal evidence leads me to believe that short legs and short feet make a person more aware of minor adjustments. Kind of makes sense if you look at how much the angles (ankle, knee, hip) change relative to seat height/setback for short legs vs long legs; I think we just don't have enough slack to compensate. For me, starting with a seat height (measured to the center of the BB) based on the method in Lemonds book (0.883 x inseam) then tweaking from there (wound up lowering a little bit) and the seat back a bit further (close to the Steve Hogg theory) is what winds up working for me.

Anyway good luck with it
 
Jul 22, 2009
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Just a litlle follow-up. I observed regular stretching throughout the week; when I set out the bike felt a bit small for me, but I didn't adjust anything. Went up a short steep climb ( my polar shows me 21% at one point ) seated in 42x23; and continued a hilly 125kms overall- coming back my stoplight sprints got 122 cadence, which is about 10 rpm more than I have been reciently seeing, and I felt a heck of a lot more lively. Once home I did some post ride stretches in the shower. I don't know if I can attribute the ride positives to the stretching regime- but at this point I don't see why not.
 

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