Tuesday, October 18, 2011

5 Must-haves for a comfortable ride...

Friends, colleagues and students often ask why I like to ride so much. I often answer that I enjoy the feeling of man and machine working in unison to see how far or how fast I can go. Even in a pack of riders, it’s always about what I’m capable of doing on my bike. It’s probably why I actually enjoy long distance rides. Then the inevitable question: “doesn’t your butt hurt when you ride so far?” 
When I first started riding my answer used to be, “you get used to it.” However, the truth of the matter is that if there is pain, you don’t get used to it. And more importantly, if you’re feeling pain while riding, something is wrong. So through the years, by trial and error, I’ve discovered a five things that make my ride much more comfortable. I’ll share them over the next few posts. Today I’ll talk about the most important one:

1. A well fitted bike
    I often cringe when I see riders on ill-fitting bikes. A bike that isn’t set up correctly for the rider can cause a lot of pain and if not corrected, damage knees, backs, etc. 

    First, NEVER buy a bike from a big box retailer. If you’re buying a bike at Costco, Wal Mart, Target, etc. just because the price is cheap, you’re wasting your money; you’ll get what you pay for and it will end up taking space in your garage.  The person selling you the bike there is more interested in getting to their next break than getting you a great ride.
    Second,  assuming you went to a bike shop,  if the sales person’s idea of fitting your bike is to have you straddle the bike and ensure there is some space between top tube and crotch...walk away.  This happened to me once. He didn’t make the sale. 

    So what does a proper bike fit look like? At a minimum, a bike fit should adjust the following: 1)Frame size; 2) saddle angle; 3) saddle height; 4)saddle position; 5)handlebar stem size; 6)Handlebar height. Adjusting all of these elements increase comfort, decrease pain and allow for hours of enjoyment on the bike.

    Depending on the bike shop, and perhaps how much money you spend on a bike, you can get a shop to make adjustments that are very minute. This is usually done for people who race bikes.There are companies that for a few hundred dollars will ensure a proper fit based on body measurements etc. For most everyday riders, careful adjustments of the items I mentioned above will go a long way towards many miles of comfortable riding. 

    Next week... Finding the right saddle.

    Ride on!

    Losing Lance 2.0 Update
    Starting Weight: 344.5
    Current Weight: 288
    Weight Loss to Date: 57

    I found this short video on the REI website that covers these adjustments. While you can do them yourself. I found that it was much better when a trained person is able to make the adjustments while you’re sitting on the bike.

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