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neck ache on the bike

Morning All!

I have looked at Shadow's back-ache thread - and am shamed to admit - I don't even know what a stem is and it all sounds sooo technical...[:o]

The link looked terrific - and I guess it makes sense to people that understand angles etc (not me!)[&:]

I have an old (I guess it's a road or race - she called it a 'training') bike, given to me by an experienced triathlete lady of the same height as myself and I have my first tri booked end of July.

The last time I was on a bike was for my cycling proficiency test aged 12 or so. As I am now 44; that is a LONG time ago!!!

My question is - I get real neck ache after a few miles - everything else is ok - but the neck-ache is making me miserable. Is this due to the fact that I am so new to the bike and it is just a case of getting miles in and getting accustomed to it? In which case I will gladly pedal on!... Also - how much weight should I be putting into my feet (my heels?) and my hands and my lady-bits? I'm fine on a horse (cue the hands between my legs jokes!) and know where my weight goes, but on a bike? Clueless! Oh dear![8|]

At the end of the day all I want is to be comfortable doing 20-odd miles (I am not going to win anything - but I am gutsy and competitive) so that I can manage to do the 12mile sprint distance bike-leg ok. My swimming is no problem, and I'm getting to grips with the running at last!

So, should I give-up on the race bike - old dog and new tricks comes to mind - and try and get a mountain bike or similar that doesn't involve getting so low on the bike? (It just has drop handlebars, not tri-bars - heaven help me - i would be soooo dangerous with them!)

Wish I could get to some bike training, but it's a 60-mile round trip to my clubs bike nights...Grrr!

Answers on a postcard please!?[:)]



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    risris Posts: 1,002
    i've only been cycling regularly for about 3 years, and on a drop handle-barred bike for under a year. it took me a few months to get used to the cycling position on a road bike. it took me a while to get used to the hoods and drops and for some time used the tops quite a bit as my hands and arms ached. i found my neck ached a bit when i first starting using the hoods and drops, after a few months it seemed to ease out.

    i would love to say that the hands/arms bit should ease up with time and practice, but if the bike is the wrong size then it may not!

    ideally, you should be sat on your sit-bones and not rolling forward onto the perineum (easier said than done!) your hands should be lightly resting on the bars but not taking all your weight. your core muscles should be helping to hold you up us as much as possible.

    your pedal should be under the ball of your foot. if you are cycling with your heel area then you might get some odd aches in the legs or even lower back.

    you can do some little things to help 'relax' the bike if you are finding it harsh. a good one for the hands/shoulders is to rotate the handlebars toward you a bit. the other fairly easy one is to 'flip' the stem so that it is pointing up.

    really hard one to advise on, bikes and people are so different! if you can make it to the club then great, but maybe a good bike shop can help you get fitted to what you have.

    hope this is useful and not rambling cobblers. [:D]

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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Is it in the shoulders, or just the neck. Is it hard to rotate your head? how long does the ache/stiffness last?

    If it stops after a short time after you've finished cycling, it might just be tension - rather than anything particularly wrong with the cycling position. I.e. you are tense and holding on tightly!!!

    Core strength, relaxation while riding etc. might help.

    Hard to be any more specific.

    Try altering your position while you ride. Up from the drops, onto the brake hoods, onto the top bars etc. etc.

    Get your LBS or an expert to make sure that your cycling position is right.. usually, though, if the position is wrong you will feel it in legs, lower back.

    Do you have cycling gloves? A lot of the impact from the front wheel goes up through the arms.. so anything that can absorb that might help.
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    Hey you two thanks sooooo much for your replies! [:D]

    I went out today and tried REALLY light hands on the bike - this seemed to make a HUGE difference! "Yay!!!" (I do always wear gloves, as well)

    I guess I'm gonna feel it in my tummy tho - is this what you mean by 'core' - as I could feel I had to use my tummy muscles more (Haha! What tummy muscles? I've had 3 kids!!) Is THIS why there are so many 'core' strengthening exercises? I wondered why?!...

    Anyways, 5 FAST miles all done on brake hoods and drops (downhill "weeee!") NO PROBS AT ALL with my neck, followed by a short run in the glorious weather today - perfect!!!!

    Thank you soooo much - now I just need to get more distance in on the bike - and I'll let you know how it goes!

    Oh! Re the feet - I use sort of solid plastic 'u' to keep my toes in on the pedals (is that safe?! I haven't seen anyone else use them) so my question re my heels was should I be pushing down more with my weight in them, or in the balls of my feet? Does that make sense?! [8|]

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    Jack HughesJack Hughes Posts: 1,262
    Sounds like a good improvement!

    I think the U shaped things you are describing are "toe clips". These are a bit old fashioned now, which is why you don't see them so much. Shimano, a major manufacturer and innovator, invented a new form of clips in the late 80s - usually called "SPD". These can be even scarier to get used to the old style toe clips, but are a lot better when you get used to them.

    Either way, they lock your feet to the pedals so that you cannot slip and lose power, and, especially with SPD, you can deliver power for a lot longer during the turning of the pedals. They also help you to place your feet correctly on the pedals - the ball of you feet is on the pedals - it is where your body is designed to place the most pressure and exert the most power and have the most leverage.

    Something that beginners often do, is to grip the brake levers all the time - or have their hands very near/on to the brake levers. This can definitely cause tension. Generally speaking, you don't need to use the brakes that much on a bike - when compared to a car. And they're not that effective in any case!

    So, quite often, an experienced rider cycles with their hands nowhere near the brake levers. They key skill to develop is reading the road - looking ahead to see what is coming - whether a hill, a bend, a junction, hazards emerging from the side, pot holes etc. You adjust your speed by freewheeling, sitting up etc, as much as by braking!

    Hope that helps, and good luck!
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    risris Posts: 1,002
    glad to hear that the neck ache is easing up. if you are find the drops comfortable already then you are taking to it much better than i did!

    those tummy muscles are really important, if you are feeling them after rides that is a sign that you are using them which is good!

    jack is right about the death grip on the brakes, i find that i have to make a concious decision to relax my wrists, shoulders and elbows at times to reduce the tension.

    as jack says - pedalling should be using the ball of the foot. i have my foot pointed down at the bottom of the pedal stroke, with my knee slightly bent. this toes-down action should be more efficient and encourages a cyclical pedalling action rather than an up-down one, if that makes any sense at all.

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    ZacniciZacnici Posts: 1,385
    Core strength - Pilates! Has worked wonders with me, also sorted out problems with my spondilitis. Should really be part of every triathletes training I reckon except it doesn't sound 'hardcore'.
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