It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I love my road bike, I do because it’s awesome. It does one thing very well, it goes fast on a paved surface. I also love my mountain bike, it’s awesome too, but for different reasons. My mountain bike is good for three things: Leisurely rides with my wife and kids, dirt roads and trail riding and it handles all three excellently. The bike that I have a tough time understanding is the hybrid. A hybrid attempts to take the best of a mountain bike and the best of a road bike and mush the two together – and from what I’ve seen, it does neither very well. A hybrid, simply by the manner in which you ride it, upright, isn’t very fast. My buddy Pete’s got a very nice hybrid with 700 x 38c road tires, and it’s not much faster than my mountain bike – if I install my 26″ road tires on it (only $20 each from my LBS) there’s no discernable difference. At that point it’s more about the engine than the machine… But that’s the point, why get a skinny tire bike that makes you sit on it like a fat tire bike and rob you of efficiency?
I just can’t get there in my head. If any of you have an opinion on this, I’d love to hear it. A friend of mine is talking about picking up biking because he’s got a fairly major back problem and was thinking hybrid until I changed his mind on Saturday to a mountain bike…
And that leads me to another interesting point that I picked up on Saturday at the bike shop… I dropped by while it was raining on Saturday afternoon to pay for a mirror that the Matt had installed when I stopped in during my 35.5 miler on Friday and mentioned my friend – I’ve always assumed that road biking is not exactly good for one’s back – being hunched over miles on end to cut into the wind just never seemed like a good idea – or maybe better; it seemed like the opposite of what one would do to promote a healthy back and mentioned this to Matt. His first recommendation was that my friend seek a doctor’s opinion first just to make sure he can ride, but then suggested that it’s been his experience that several people that he’s known over the years have reported that road cycling has actually helped them with back problems.
Now this gets interesting for me – I’ve always had lower back problems (or at least for the last 23 years I have). Some days I was flat out miserable. Last summer I bought a bite splint to wear at night (I wrote about that here) and that helped immensely, but I’d still have maybe one day every other week that required an Aleve or two to get me feeling right again… But since I started road cycling I haven’t had a bad day since (I’ve had plenty of other aches and pains related to recovering from efforts, but nothing out of the ordinary). There may actually be something to that. I did a quick search and have pretty much struck out, all of the articles are related to why cycling does cause back pain and how to correct that, but I’ve been quite busy today and will be for the foreseeable future so I don’t have time to play around with narrowing the terms to find what I want – that’ll have to wait until I’m watching the Tigers game tonight. Either way, I’ll see what I can come up with there.
In the mean time, I have been having some shoulder trouble (too much head up, body down, craning my neck) and I happened on a wonderful article with some easy fixes that have really made my shoulders and neck relax – and quickly.
If you’re having shoulder/neck pain, check this out – I’m making the stretches a part of my normal morning coffee routine.