Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Nearholmer
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by Nearholmer »

I think I’d start by dropping shoulders, allowing arms into a relaxed bend, with hands along the side of the hoods. In those pictures, it looks as if your arms might be locked, although it’s hard to be certain.
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

slowster wrote: 11 Apr 2024, 10:04am Although I advise against altering your set-up before ruling out adaptation, there is a basic check mentioned in 531colin's guide which you could do in the meantime. When out for a ride, after a while, say half an hour, try riding up a slight(ish) incline with your hands on the tops of the bars and your fingers very loosely wrapped around the bars (not significantly gripping or pressing against the underside of the bars). To maintain the same gear and pace that you were using on the flat, the incline will require you to increase your effort a bit and put more power through the pedals. If your saddle is set back sufficiently that you are at the balance point on your bike, the extra pressure on the pedals will result in your hands lifting gently from the bars, and your fingers will start to press against the underside of the bars.

I think the above is a useful indicator. It is not a particularly high precision test, but I don't think it needs to be. Saddle set back does not need single millimetre levels of precision: 5mm or even 10mm is often probably close enough.
Thank you for this useful post. I'll try this. And I take your point about going down a rabbit hole! I'm a bit concerned about that.
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

Nearholmer wrote: 11 Apr 2024, 12:16pm I think I’d start by dropping shoulders, allowing arms into a relaxed bend, with hands along the side of the hoods. In those pictures, it looks as if your arms might be locked, although it’s hard to be certain.
Thanks. Yes, my arms do look pretty locked in the pics. I have a general problem in life with tension in my shoulders and holding them too high, so it seems like this bike is exacerbating that. I must try to drop them!
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

531colin wrote: 6 Apr 2024, 8:03am
here you go, a tale of two bicycles.
John's Spa Aubisque, and my Spa Elan. The frames have exactly the same seat tube angle, 72.5 degrees.

John has his saddle shoved forwards on an in-line seatpost, this throws your weight forward onto your hands.
I have my saddle shoved backwards on a seatpost with the most setback I could get at the time (without taking out a second mortgage) this takes the weight off my hands.
In order to cope with his weight thrown forwards, John has his bars as close and as high as possible. (and toe overlap, I expect, with a tiny frame)
Arthritis in my thumbs has stopped me riding drops, but you can (hopefully) see where my hands usually are, above the brake levers on my bullbars.

I haven't got a photo of me on my bike with bullbars, but its about the same riding position I used when I could ride drops...a couple of me on an Elan "tester".... Photos taken in 2017, so I was 70 years old then. As you can see, that riding position is suitable for me to do a bit of off-road, because I'm in balance and relaxed on the bike. The bike probably had tyres like Marathon Supreme.
Very interesting comparison. And these photos are fantastic. Thank you, Colin, for all your advice on this thread - and for the fitting guide.
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531colin
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by 531colin »

LucyEliz wrote: 11 Apr 2024, 12:43pm
slowster wrote: 11 Apr 2024, 10:04am Although I advise against altering your set-up before ruling out adaptation, there is a basic check mentioned in 531colin's guide which you could do in the meantime. When out for a ride, after a while, say half an hour, try riding up a slight(ish) incline with your hands on the tops of the bars and your fingers very loosely wrapped around the bars (not significantly gripping or pressing against the underside of the bars). To maintain the same gear and pace that you were using on the flat, the incline will require you to increase your effort a bit and put more power through the pedals. If your saddle is set back sufficiently that you are at the balance point on your bike, the extra pressure on the pedals will result in your hands lifting gently from the bars, and your fingers will start to press against the underside of the bars.

I think the above is a useful indicator. It is not a particularly high precision test, but I don't think it needs to be. Saddle set back does not need single millimetre levels of precision: 5mm or even 10mm is often probably close enough.
Thank you for this useful post. I'll try this. And I take your point about going down a rabbit hole! I'm a bit concerned about that.
Not for the first time, I agree with slowster.
Lucy, I don’t think you are very far out in your position, take slowsters suggested measured approach and please keep in touch.
Jezrant
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by Jezrant »

A lot of people in the CTC community, especially the older contingent, started off riding road bikes with drops. It’s much more common among younger cyclists these days to come from flat bars to drops. It can be a big adjustment, that change in position. Ironically, many of the older touring cyclists who started off on drops later on turn to hybrids and MTBs for the extra comfort (and stability) on their shorter rides. :)
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

531colin wrote: 12 Apr 2024, 7:42am
Not for the first time, I agree with slowster.
Lucy, I don’t think you are very far out in your position, take slowsters suggested measured approach and please keep in touch.
Reassuring to read this. Thank you, Colin!
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

Jezrant wrote: 12 Apr 2024, 8:56am A lot of people in the CTC community, especially the older contingent, started off riding road bikes with drops. It’s much more common among younger cyclists these days to come from flat bars to drops. It can be a big adjustment, that change in position. Ironically, many of the older touring cyclists who started off on drops later on turn to hybrids and MTBs for the extra comfort (and stability) on their shorter rides. :)
Yes. It’s a big adjustment for me certainly - I’ve only ever ridden flat bars. Part of me wonders whether I should’ve gone for butterfly bars like so many of our European compadres do. Anyway, hopefully I’ll get used to the drops eventually!
Halla
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by Halla »

Hello Lucy.

Have you heard of The Alexander Technique? "The use of thyself"

This concentrates on how we are using our bodies and how relaxed our muscles are.

It is important to be aware of our posture when doing anything in life.

When you are riding how far are you looking ahead?

If you drive a motor vehicle, you will be used to looking some way in front of you because of your speed, and you will be sitting upright and looking straight ahead.

I find that on a bike and bent slightly forward, my neck can be tilted back too much because I am looking too far ahead. I therefore have to concentrate on where I am looking and whether my shoulders are tightening, I also have to make sure that my helmet does not slip even slightly down, which can again make me alter the position of my head and putting strain on my shoulders and neck.

I notice you have a peak on your helmet, does this either slip down slightly or restrict your view forward, which may cause you to put your neck further up and back, again causing your shoulders to tighten.

If this is any help to you I would suggest going for some quiet shortish rides and concentrate on how you are using your upper body until it becomes second nature, you will then be more used to the new riding position and be more relaxed.

It is also good practice to maintain core strength and to regularly stretch.

I hope you have many years enjoying your Elan in comfort.

Andy
slowster
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by slowster »

Jezrant wrote: 12 Apr 2024, 8:56am A lot of people in the CTC community, especially the older contingent, started off riding road bikes with drops.
Bike fit/set-up problems and associated discomfort/pain seemed rare amongst touring cyclists then. I think that was due to a number of possible factors:

- It's possible that many more people encountered problems, and we just didn't know it. There was no internet then for people to ask advice and share knowledge, and many who joined the CTC were by that point probably already fairly keen cyclists. Most of those who experienced significant pain or discomfort early on probably soon gave up leisure/touring cycling.

- Most riders probably started when they were relatively young and more flexible.

- If you start riding in a club, you will conform to how the club rides and tend to copy the majority of other riders. That means you are more likely to acquire good habits, good bike set up and position, good technique etc. (often without being conscious of it), compared with someone who has always ridden solo.

- Typical CTC club rides were at a comfortable pace which most people could maintain easily. The harder the effort, the more likely pain and discomfort is to occur. I suspect many novice riders, especially solo riders, try to ride at too high a pace. I think that modern bikes and components can encourage this. STI shifters and 10/11 speed cassettes with 1 or 2 teeth gaps encourage riding at a higher tempo than down tube shifters and a 5 speed touring freewheel with 3 or more teeth gaps. The latter encourage and even compel a relaxed pace. Add to that SPD pedals and shoes and lighter bikes with twitchier handling, e.g. gravel bikes often have more in common with road race bikes than tourers, and it's very easy for someone to feel that they should constantly push themselves just a bit harder, and end up with pain or discomfort as a result. This may or may not be a factor in the OP's case - we just don't know.

Finally, I think that for touring cyclists there should be no need to worry about core strength. I have lousy core strength, and it never affected my ability to ride at touring pace. I cannot ever recall a club run where core strength was mentioned as important or where anyone said they did any core exercises. Young and old, we just all just turned up on Sunday and happily trundled our way around the countryside for 80 miles or more. Compared with then, far too many people are over-complicating things.
Jezrant
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by Jezrant »

I’m repeating myself, but the thing is, the older CTC contingent started riding on touring bikes with dropped bars when they were young, myself included. Nowadays, a lot young people start riding on bikes with wider flat bars and gear shifters and brake levers that are easy to operate and don’t require moving your hand position. The transition to a bike with narrower drop bars and brifters can be a bit of challenge. I’ve also come around to the Continental European view that dropped bars may not be the best bars for touring. There are lots of weird and wonderful bars available these days, but finding the ones that work best for you may not be obvious.
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531colin
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by 531colin »

You people sure know how to encourage a girl!
Jezrant
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by Jezrant »

She looks like a young woman to me.😉
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

Halla wrote: 13 Apr 2024, 11:32am
If this is any help to you I would suggest going for some quiet shortish rides and concentrate on how you are using your upper body until it becomes second nature, you will then be more used to the new riding position and be more relaxed.

It is also good practice to maintain core strength and to regularly stretch.

I hope you have many years enjoying your Elan in comfort.

Andy
Thanks, Andy. I don't practise Alexander Technique (though am aware of it), but do Pilates and try to work on core strength and stretching generally. Those are some interesting points about looking further ahead etc. Thanks for the pointers.
LucyEliz
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Re: Shoulder stiffness/tension for a drop bar newbie

Post by LucyEliz »

Jezrant wrote: 13 Apr 2024, 8:48pm I’ve also come around to the Continental European view that dropped bars may not be the best bars for touring. There are lots of weird and wonderful bars available these days, but finding the ones that work best for you may not be obvious.
I thought long and hard about bar choice and I went into this purchase thinking I'd likely get butterfly bars. I was, perhaps unwisely, swayed towards drop bars for aesthetic reasons (plus the anti-butterfly bar views of the person who helped me at Spa Cycles). This might have been a mistake. Anyway, they're what I've got now, so I need to persist with them for a while at least - if I'm stlll not comfortable after a few months of regular riding, then I'll need to consider the expense of changing bar.
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