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Continuing promised (for the interested)(23 posts)

Continuing promised (for the interested)Kristin
Jul 29, 2001 6:21 PM
I've cut back on riding due to pain. At this point the knots run thru my neck and are causing headaches (on and off the bike). I begin pysical therapy tomorrow--trying desprately to avoid shots.

Just installed the Nitto--well, mostly I watched. (To my dismay the steerer was too narrow and the stem needed to be cut down.) In the end, I went from a 4.7" drop (seat to hoods) and an 11cm stem to the following:

12cm stem:
Drop to hoods: 3.5"
Drop to tops: 2.1"
Drop to drops: 7"
A also angled the seat nose UP a bit.

Probably too soon to tell, but I took a short ride and could bend my elbows more comfortably. Taking the weight off my arms is easier now. I felt more powerful too, though the training videos I'm watching could have something to do with that. ;-) I'm well into Wilma territory with 11cm of stem showing and thinking about raising them more. (Ah, does it really matter what it looks like--especially if I'm healthier/faster?)

One funny thing: I now have knee/elbow overlap. This surprised me. I thought extending my reach and raising my bars would increase distance between my knees and elbows; it did the opposite--closing the gap. Why is that?
Haven't been following your posts..but....Justin Spinelli
Jul 29, 2001 6:29 PM
...why not get a Hybrid instead? The position it gets you into would be more comfy than an road bike, and will quite surely minimize your inposition-related injuries. Just a thought =)
Made it onto my bad list already...Kristin
Jul 29, 2001 6:43 PM
...and we just met! :)

What a concept you put forth! I'll have to think about it. Perhaps I should track down the theives that stole my piece of crap Trek 720 and trade them my new DeBernardi for it? Then I could go back to a nice upright position and a 13mph pace.

That was meant to be a little tongue-n-cheek. Hybrids are designed for people who want to tool around the block. I bought a road bike because I want to ride fast and improve skills--perhaps even be competative. This is my first road bike and my first season--I'm working out some of the kinks. So, thanks for the input, but NO WAY!!
=)Justin Spinelli
Jul 29, 2001 7:44 PM
Sorry! I was under the impression that you had the correct frame size and still had injuries. I guess you should look for the right frame size. Otherwise, if you have all the measurements right, and still getiinjuries. Then maybe a road bike is not for you? =)
re: Continuing promised (for the interested)LC
Jul 29, 2001 6:56 PM
Everything you did sounds fine except the nose up on the saddle. Most people keep it flat or even slightly down for females. I use a carpenter bubble level to make sure it really is level. Keeping the saddle nose up does take some weight off your arms, but it will cause problems in other sensitive areas.
I'm definitely not interested :-), butET at home
Jul 29, 2001 7:27 PM
the knee/elbow overlap could possibly come because the new longer reach causes the arms to move inwards. You could possibly solve this problem with a wider handlebar, or go back to the 11 but angle it up yet more.

Could you elaborate on what you mean by drop to hoods 3.5", drop to tops 2.1"? Are your hoods really that much lower than your tops? Maybe you have to angle your bars upward quite a bit.

Seeing how serious you are about road biking and how much trouble you're having, I must say what's on my mind, which may be stating the obvious. Despite all your research to avoid it, you probably have the wrong size bike, one which is one or two sizes too small, causing your reach to be too severe for you. Assuming you aren't way overdoing it (is that a big assumption?), you shouldn't be having all those aches and pains. I'm sure you remember your early days here when you thought you had a problem of very short torso in relation to legs (preventing you from considering bikes with a longer top tube), but you probably didn't, as evidenced by a rather small-sized bike for a 12 stem. So it seems the bike's too small. The too-large standover clearance over your bike (and you were warned to check for this) should've been the tipoff.

Maybe sell the bike, or just the frame (wasn't it only $400? an unfortunate but relatively minor loss in roqad biking, especially given your health problems) and take off the parts and put it on the next frame you buy. Start over, do it right, and get rid of your aches and pains. And that way, your saga can start all over again...
LOL - *Sigh*Kristin
Jul 29, 2001 8:44 PM
Thanks for the explaination of knee/elbow overlap. Yes, I notice that my elbows are closer to my sides. I like it better this way. The overlap is not significant (slightly touches).

I hear what you're saying about fit. But does my choosing a 120 really indicate I need a whole new bike? I rode on the new stem and the steering is no problem. The standover height of 1.5 - 2" is also completly acceptable. The only reason I purchased the Nitto was to resolve the extreme seat to HB drop. The original stem gave me a 4.5-7" drop which is too extreme at this time and caused pain. I decided to go with the 12 over another 11 on a whim of sorts. I've had difficulty flattening my back, and there were other indications that the cockpit was a tad cramped.

There were no gaurentees that I'd choose the perfect bike. In fact, the odds were in favor of my making a mistake. I did my best, analyzed the information I received, put some faith in the LBS guy, and chose. I'm not looking back now. I really only had one shot at this. The money is gone, and this is my bike fore the forseeable future. Its okay. Buying a bike is still like getting married. Theres tons to learn in the first year, and its often painful. I have confidence things will be good in the end.

I'm sure that the knowledge available about bike fit today, was non-existent in the 70's and 80's. Yet people rode and raced and did well. Ill fitting bikes rarely kill people. If my bike doesn't fit perfectly, its not the end of the world. The human body has an amazing ability to adapt to its environment--allbeit slowly. I'll learn tons and do better next time.
OK, do what you wantET
Jul 30, 2001 8:18 AM
There are many here on this forum who have their bars nearly level with their saddle, else they have the same medical problems as you. Less height differential is better when starting out too. But you can't get anywhere close because of your undersized frame.

If you sold your frame for half-price and bought the same frame two sizes bigger and transferred all the components (something cbike ought to do for free, given the cirumstances, but even if not), you're losing only a few hundred dollars and getting rid of all your medical problems (and the associated dollars too) which may last a lifetime. But no. A continuing saga is infinitely preferable.
Jul 30, 2001 9:47 AM
I haven't followed all the questions on fitting, but I find ET's responses correct to my line of thinking.
A frame that gives it's rider 2" of standover clearance, 4.5" of drop (!) and a 120 mm stem creating elbow/knee overlap, all on a woman's frame, and the rider having head and neck pain, clearly say the frame doesn't fit. It is too small. As one who rode with 7 cm (not inches) as per Bernard Hinault/Leonard Ginzling for many years, then went to the Rivendell website and got converted, I think any shop that set you up like that got it wrong. Now all my road bikes are set up with the handlebars near level with the saddle top. On one bike I got a larger frame size but the sloping top tube still allowed me 1" of clearance barefooted. The other frame required an extended head tube and a 90/0 degree rise stem. I still achieve a flat back in the drops and when I chose to chase down a guy on an aerobared Douglas this weekend (who didn't say either "on your left" or "hi" when passing me) I got going plenty fast to catch him and leave him behind even with me riding on the hoods and him on the aerobars. The higher position does not make one slower just one heckuva lot more comfortable.

Rivendell also points out that as a stem is raised higher, it needs to be longer than one ridden at the lower (greater drop) position. It might be wise to study their website on fit, especially anyone who has neck pain combined with greater saddle/handlebar drop. Good luck.
Not a matter of what I want...Kristin
Jul 30, 2001 11:11 AM
Unless, of course, you're willing to share part of your income tax return with me! :) I DON'T have a few hundred dollars. If I did, I'd have had a frame built to begin with. And no way CBike will ever admit this frame is too small...they'll stand by their opinion that it fits. They have no reason to change their tune, my check already cleared. I never got the impression that they wanted me as a long term customer.
Not a matter of what I want...SteveS
Jul 30, 2001 11:43 AM
Sorry, I don't have a tax return to share, I have to pay and you wouldn't want to share that burden.

Was this bike bought mail order? If not, they should be able to make a fit right if you haven't had the bike long or ridden it too much. Without going through the fit thing, since you say you are going to have one done, if nothing else, you might look at one of the long stems that Rivendell sells (if thats not the Nitto you referred to) as a temporary expedient. If the bike is mail order and you have already put on a long quilled or high rise stem on and that didn't worry, sorry. Better luck next time.
Just a suggestion;look271
Jul 29, 2001 7:42 PM
Why don't you look in your area to see if there are any shops that will do a fitting for you on your bike. We'll assume that your frame is the correct size:-) I just did this with my Look and it was the best $50 I've ever spent on my bike. I bought my 271 last year and have been fiddleing around with seat height, stem length, drop, etc. and just not quite getting it right. I finally bit the bullet and admitted that maybe I couldn't do it myself(not easy for me to do!)and went to my buds at World Cup ski and bike and he spent 1.5 hours with me fitting my bike. Feels great now.
I totally agreeScottH
Jul 30, 2001 4:50 AM
After lots of pain and numbness one season I almost quit road biking. Fortunately when spring came around, I got the itch and decided to take my bike to the local pro shop for a fit. They had to replace a couple parts so the price was closer to $80 for me, but well worth it. A lot of shops today will even swap like stems out for free.
Get a fitting!bianchi boy
Jul 30, 2001 5:12 AM
Find a local bike shop that does Serotta frame fittings or something equivalent. It will cost $50-100 but it the best money you can spend on your bike, considering your situation. You can spend a small fortune buying different stems, bars, etc., and a good fitting will eliminate all the guesswork.

Remember, when you raise your handlebars you also shorten your reach because the stem slants toward you. Just the opposite happens when you raise your saddle. Don't worry about how it looks having a limited drop from your saddle to your handlebar height. The current fashion of having extreme drops is just that -- fashion. Many bike shops set up their bikes these days with large drops because people want to look like racers. Unfortunately, this position is not comfortable for most people and causes hand and neck problems. You should start with a bar about even with the saddle and then try dropping it in increments.

For those who think high bars will hurt their performance, Chris Carmichael (Lance Armstrong's coach) recommends 1" drop as a starting point in his book. Lance has much less drop than most racers (not considering his time trial bike) and it hasn't hurt him.
re: Continuing promised (for the interested)STEELYeyed
Jul 29, 2001 8:08 PM
I would not go so far as to get a hybrid,I have been down that road and for fast long distance road riding it did not work out for me,others may differ,but I can't believe that anyone,and I mean anyone can't make a road bike fit their body and be comfortable,I know alot of people now riding recumbents because thier road bike hurt their neck or back and they did not even try to change anything to make the bike fit,they just abandon it and go buy a big heavy recumbent sometimes spending thousands of dollars that had they could have spent on a nice custom road bike that is fast and comfortable which is what they wanted to begin with,if you are to the point where you need medical attention caused by your riding position you really need to find a professional frame builder or fitter to get you on the bike right before you do permanant damage,it sounds like your frame may be too small and you need to start over,just my opinion though.

"Ride your Bike"
re: Continuing promised (for the interested)manuel rodriguez
Jul 29, 2001 8:36 PM
I think the reason the bar seems closer is that when you raise your stem you are moving it back at the same time because of the angle of the headtube. I also overlap and if you look at most racers, they overlap too. As far as your distance from the seat to the handlebars, you need to concern yourself with the distance from the top of the handlebars to top of the saddle. I always use a ruler and a carpenter level to make sure everything is right, If you just eye it, you'll be off. You wand the flat portion of the front of the seat level with your top tube or slightly down. As far as your distance from the top of the handlebars to the top of the seat, you want between 2 to 3 inches. Preferably less than 3. It will give you a very comfortable and aerodynamic position. A while ago you posted a picture of your new bike and the drop from the handlebars to the seat was definitively excessive. If I were you, I would get a Profile stem with a 90 degree angle and go from there, I guarantee you that you'll be able to get the right handlebar height without having to raise the stem to the point that it looks ridiculous. By the way do you have any pictures of yourself? I've read so many of your posts and threads that I was just wondering what the lady behind the keyboard looks like. Please no dirty pictures. Anyway try the above and I'm pretty sure you will be fine. If the 90 degree angle stem stills puts the bars too low, you can try one of the nice Salsa stems with positive rise. Good Luck.
two thingsHank
Jul 29, 2001 8:53 PM
though I personally don't subscribe to it (I have a major amount of drop from my seat to my bars) many find the Rivendell school of thought to be more comfortable. i.e.:

regarding your pain "on and off the bike"--this book cured me of debilitating back/neck pain that kept me off the bike for two years. And I had seen every doc/PT/chiropractor to no avail. I have now returned to my "unhealthy" racer position and mtb racing/riding with zero pain. Well worth the $11.

Good luck!
re: Continuing promised (for the interested)manuel rodriguez
Jul 29, 2001 8:55 PM
Could you post a picture of your bike? Maybe the older picture with the big handlebar drop and if you can, one with your new stem. Just curious to see how much drop you have and how much seatpost is showing. It's ok to try a longer stem, most of the time it feels better to be in a slightly stretched out position. By the way my handlebar drop is about 2 inches and with my hands in the drops my back is very flat. There is hope don't dispair.
I admire your persistance.........Len J
Jul 30, 2001 3:55 AM
as you search for bike fit nirvana!

This is old advice (as in both , it comes form someone old & it was given to me many years ago) but in my experience good advice. for new riders, Start in a position where the top of the bars are level with the seat. As someone else said, use a level to determine this. (I can't remember if you have a threaded or threadless setup, but this will determine how to get adequate height.) Once you get your position level, you will notice how much easier it is on your shoulders & neck. After you get used to this position, if you want to get more aero, lower the stem in very small increments. Ride the new position for several rides, stop lowering when you experience neck & shoulder pain again. While you are correct that the body is adaptible, your body also has a way of protesting changes that are too dramatic. I think you body is telling you something.

In addition to the above, relax. Pay attention when you are riding to wether or not you are "scrunching" your shoulders as you ride. It may not seem like much, but an hour or two of held tension in a set of muscles will result in pain and stiffness afterwards.

Remember, even level, you are in a more aero position than you would be on a hybrid. You can still get more aero by using the drops for periods of time (i.e. into the wind etc.). The gains in efficiency by being more comfortable are more than what you are giving up in aerodynamics.

This is supposed to be enjoyable, work on comfort and fit & the rest will come.

Good luck & keep us posted.

Thanks and follow upKristin
Jul 30, 2001 6:04 AM
Thanks for all the useful suggestions. Getting the bike fit is an excellent idea! As a matter of fact, there is some info I left out of the initial post to keep it short(er). But it may be useful to share. I'm getting a fitting of sorts on Friday with my sports dr. who is also a cyclist. I'm not sure how long he's cycled, but he seems quite knowledgable and works at a reputable teaching hospital. My neck is mainly knotted up and the muscle tension is causing the headaches (pulling on the scalp muslces). Once the knots are gone and my position is better, I believe the sailing will be smooth. I do tend to carry lifes worries in my back/neck--always have. On and off the bike. So this problem makes total sense for me. Where else would I break? I actively focus on relaxing my shoulders on the bike. Its hard work, but I'll get it eventually.
Thanks and follow upHank
Jul 30, 2001 7:39 AM
If you already know/admit "I do tend to carry lifes worries in my back/neck" I'd really strongly recommend looking at that book. It takes that idea one step further and explains what is really going on and shows you how to permanently get rid of it. The guy who wrote it is an MD at NYU, so he's not a crackpot. Good luck.
side view of you on bikekenyee
Jul 30, 2001 7:00 AM
You might want to ask someone to take a few snaps of you on your bike so some of the folks here can get an idea of how your arms/knees, etc. look in relation to the bike. You also might want to stay on the tops longer instead of on the hoods and drops.

I can relate to the neck pains. Tried my second run in 20 yrs on a rented Bianchi Brava, did only 21 miles; neck and hands were stiff for 2 days. At least my butt didn't hurt for 2 days since I caved in and bought padded bike shorts :-)
Kristen, before you....GregJ
Jul 30, 2001 1:04 PM
go out to buy a new bike may I suggest a few things. I have been reading most of your posts, here is what I think. Your bike is close to the right size for you IMHO. On my bike I have a 3.75 inch drop to the tops of the bars and a 4.5 inch drop to the top of the brake hoods. This leads me to beleive that you can get your levers closer to the tops by possibly angling the bars a bit different and moving the levers higher up the bars. Possibly a different shaped handlebar may be helpful (although I can sympathise with you on not wanting to spend more money.) The kind of drop to your handlebars that you describe is not excessive IMHO, and your new setup should be plenty high. I have read the Rivendell info on fitting and personally would not want to ride a bike setup like that. Being able to utilize the aero position is a main component of going fast on a road bike. I have no problems with my position, I am very comfortable on my bike and I am not all that flexible or all that young. Even when I am deep in the drops, elbows bent a lot, my back is still not flat, but that is about as aero as I get. I can ride a long time like that. Most of the cyclists that I ride with DON'T have chronic back or neck pain and NONE have their handlebars level with the seat. May I suggest that your neck and shoulder problems are likely unrelated to your cycling position, possibly cycling in any position may exacerbate your aches and pains but you should look at other causes as well including any work related issues such as TYPING on a KEYBOARD for hours or the way you sleep etc. Some people have terrible neck problems and NEVER get on a bike at all! Best of luck getting things sorted out, read the book that Hank suggested.