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Bontrager Takes the Complex Saddle Choice and Makes it Simple(r) with Performance Postures

Specialized does it through shop employees with measurements, angles and videos too numerous and complex to get into, they call it their Body Geometry fit (I had one, when I bought my Venge, and it was awesome).  Long before that wonderful day and after a few months on my new (to me) 1999 Trek 5200, I went to the local shop complaining of immense pain due to my saddle after a steady increase of miles.  Walter quickly measured my sit bones on a handy-dandy board with memory foam on it and handed me a Specialized Romin (143mm) saddle.  The old, original saddle was a 155 – no wonder it hurt. The 143mm Romin, with its marvelous contours, just happened to be the exact saddle for me. I even put a second Romin I own on our tandem.

Fi’zi:k does it with an app. Hold your smartphone at your chest and bend over as far as you can… they match you to the proper saddle of their three different types. Not bad, but I’m in between saddles according to the app (or at least I was last I checked). Doesn’t that just figure? I can measure twice in a row and get two different saddles. Fortunately, luck got me where I needed to be previously, anyway.

Bontrager seems to have simplified everything and explained it so anyone from a leisure cyclist to a road racing cyclist can easily see what will likely be the best saddle fit for their riding style. It’s not, after all, rocket science. It’s close, though, once they really start looking into the science and how a saddle will affect a cyclist. Behold, simplicity and the Performance Postures (or as they like to call it in technical terms, “InForm BioDynamic Designs”):

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To keep things moving, I’m a Posture 2. I ride an aggressively set up road bike (both of them):

Then they got into the contour of the saddle:

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And followed that with the profile:

bontrager-biodynamic-saddle-posture-profile

Without question, especially looking at my Venge up above and how much I love the Romin saddle, I’m a Posture 2 guy, and it makes sense now that this is all laid out above:

Now, will this way of looking at saddles tick everyone’s boxes and make them comfortable on a Bontrager saddle?  I would land somewhere between “doubtful” and “not a freaking chance” – saddle choice is too personal and complex.  That said, for me, it works and it makes sense.

Where this gets a little sticky is that saddle on my Trek, a Selle Italia.  It’s basically a flat saddle with a minute curve to it.  It’s a full carbon fiber saddle that weighs in at a miniscule 110 grams (Bontrager makes a 64 gram saddle, basically the weight of two plastic bottle cages, if you’re interested):

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Contrast that with the saddle on my Venge (or one like it) on the Right and a Bontrager Montrose on the Left:

My friends, I may ride low but I am not flexible.  I can barely touch my toes (though barely does count!).  That little bit of contour in the saddle helps me rotate my hips forward so I can ride comfortably in the drops and on the hoods.  I do have to make sure to bend my arms sufficiently when I ride with my hands on the bar top, though.  Sitting upright isn’t comfortable on a contoured saddle like the two above – at least not the way I set mine up, with a 3° drop from back to front (measured the full length of the saddle).

People can get sucked into the wrong saddle pretty easy.  Whether they’re in it for the weight, or just trying to get a cool-looking saddle…  Folks, some saddles just fit some butts better than others.  The more information you’re armed with, though, the better equipped you’ll be to help a knowledgeable person at a shop help you into the proper saddle… or try luck.  It did work for me.

RominAndMontrose

 

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And Finally, Some Decent Miles to Go with Summertime (and How Sobriety Factors into the Fun)

On one hand, this summer, if you could call it that until two weeks ago, should have been a YUGE letdown. My miles are down, my weight is slightly up, and the weather has just plain sucked. I haven’t even topped 4,000 miles for the year yet, and I’m liking food way more than I should.

On the other hand, I’m on the job of my career and I’m freaking digging it and the pay has been quite nice.

I don’t know what the rest of this year will hold, but beyond the sacrifices, I’m having fun and I’m happy. And that’s what really matters.

Then, out of nowhere, the best cycling weekend yet this year. It was supposed to rain every day, but the worst we got was a popcorn storm for ten minutes, and never while we were on the bikes.  I could have put in so many more miles, though… 75 on Thursday, 40 Friday, another 56 for Saturday, and we’ve got a 100k on tap for today.  If memory serves, I’d have sprinkled in an 80-100 miler in there and at least one of the 40 or 56 mile rides would have been a 100k.  I’m not that guy this year, though.  For the longest time, I feared I would like cycling less if I let off the gas, if I didn’t try to cram absolutely every last mile in.  I was so wrong; I like it more.

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Because I’m not always trying to push max miles out of every ride, my enjoyment of the sport increased and I enjoy each mile much more.  In the end, there’s still no place I’d rather be than on my bike, and the search still continues for the sucker who’ll pay me to ride it.  I’ll let you know when my luck changes.

In the meantime, it’s just another day in paradise on two wheels.

There once was a time when all I could do was think about how I could escape being miserable.  Every day I’d try to figure out how to game the system so I could have just one more day drunk before the house of cards crumbled under the weight of my poor choices.  Today, 26 years without a drink or a drug, and I’m working on making content and happy, happier.  Talk about a difference that’ll put a smile on your face!

My friends, once I embraced that the hardest thing I would ever do in my life occurred 26 years ago, in quitting drinking (and eventually, smoking), once I realized I’d already been through hell and as long as I keep on the right path, I don’t ever have to go back, life became less about survival and more about enjoyment.

Just for today.  Keep quit, no matter what.  Even if your ass falls off… and in the event it does, put it in a paper bag and take it to a meeting.  They’ll show you how they put theirs back on.  There’s only misery at the bottom of that bottle.  It won’t get better this time.  There’s no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  Shit, there’s no rainbow.  Because there’s no sunshine.  Just keep quitting.

Cycling Sacrilege: Making the Heavy Bike Lighter and the Light Bike Heavier… On Purpose

Cycling sacrilege is right!  But let me go back a bit, to bring this home correctly.  You know me, I don’t do much half-assed…

Five months ago, a friend gave me a Selle Italia carbon saddle.  It’s ridiculously, outrageously light.  It also required a special saddle collar to fit on my Venge so I tried it on my Trek first, just to see what I thought until the proper collar I ordered for the Venge came in.  The saddle was magic on the Trek.  It was so perfect, I almost cancelled the collar and left the saddle on the Trek.  But I had to try it on the Venge.  I had to.  After all, an ultra-light saddle would perfectly round out that spectacular bike (it also took the bike from the high 15 pound range to the mid-15’s).

Well, a month(ish) into that experiment and I didn’t like the result.  Most of my problems are likely due to fit, but I’ve adjusted the saddles and I just can’t quite get to the bottom of the issue… if you know what I mean.  The saddle on my 5200 was spectacular.  On the Venge, it was a little closer to “meh”.

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Over the last month, as I’ve started ramping up the miles, I just couldn’t get the Selle Italia saddle to a position I liked as much as I had on the Trek.  I hemmed and hawed for at least two weeks about switching them back.  Then, with my second big tour of the year looming, I decided to switch them back – against every weight weenie fiber in my body.  Unfortunately, a flared up hip made the decision a little easier.  After changes are made, sometimes it takes a good bit of miles to really evaluate the change.  I really started feeling the pain last week, maybe two weeks ago, butt in hindsight only.  With two hundred mile days in a row looming, I had to change something before that sore hip became an actual injury.

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And just like that…

My first ride after having swapped saddles was a big one – go big or go home (or both in this case).  Typically, it’s a little stupid not adviseable to swap out a saddle and head out for a big mile ride, but if you’ve read this blog for very long, you know me; overconfident in my mechanical abilities, and often lucky enough to be right (or at least close enough for government work).

Last week, my Garmin died toward the end of a 65 mile ride so I had my buddy, Chuck add me in to his for Strava.  He finished that ride with 71 miles, though, so I had some penance miles to make up.  Well, I got four of those done on Tuesday night but I still had two left, so I decided to make them up checking my saddle position yesterday morning before our ride.  It felt great so I rolled with it.

Fourteen miles into the real ride and I knew I’d missed the mark, but just barely.  At our first stop, because I was smart enough to bring an Allen wrench with me, I lowered the saddle by a millimeter.  And there it stayed for the remaining 64 miles.  Amazingly, the saddle felt like butter – much better than it did on the Venge.  I have no idea what gives, but I really don’t care at this point.  My hip soreness even let up after 20 miles.

My 1999 Trek 5200 is now down to the low 18 pound range and My Venge is still technically a 15 pound bike – and both bikes are now wildly comfortable.  I made the light bike heavier and the heavier bike lighter…

Sometimes you have to go to any length for things to work out right in the universe – or buttiverse as it is in this case.  My heinie is happier… and I’ll stop there, before going over the line – or down the crack.  In this case, even though that badass (there I go again) Selle Italia saddle belongs on the race bike, it just doesn’t work.  No sense in trying to stick with it till I was injured.

And incidentally, with the Specialized Romin saddle back on the Venge, the good bike is vastly more comfortable as well.  I did two more penance miles on the Venge to make sure I’d gotten that one right as well.  I can live with an extra 110 grams (a quarter-pound) for a peppier posterior.

Cycling Every Day; How I Trained My Body to Keep Up with My Desire to Ride (It’s not Difficult, but It ain’t Easy, Either).

I’ve been riding every day for the better part of four years now.  I took 21 days off all of last year.  I went more than a month without a day off several times, and managed to average 29 miles a day when I did ride.

For a working fella, there’s a trick to riding every day.  I had to acquire an off button.  Technically, this off button doesn’t shut me down, it shuts the voice in my melon that wants to push it every single day I ride.  My first three years riding, I didn’t know any better so I pushed it almost every day until my legs were smoked.  Then I’d take a day or two off.  I worked in scheduled days off, too, because everyone said I had to take time off to realize my fitness goals.  I didn’t like that much at all – cycling was my way to clear my head and refocus on why I love life so much.  I wanted to ride every day for that benefit alone.

Eventually, as I grew into the sport, I learned that it was okay to take an easy day on a regular basis.  Self-knowledge is about as useful as toilet paper in the next stall, though.  I had to train myself to be okay with sitting up and enjoying a ride now and again if I wanted to ride daily without over-training.

So, for me, that voice says that if I feel good, if my legs feel alright, then I should take the opportunity of being out on a ride as an opportunity to increase my strength, stamina, and fitness by pushing it a little bit.  For years I didn’t even know I should shut that down and I ended up with over-training issues and even a couple of minor overuse injuries.  Once I learned that I could ride every day, pain-free and without repercussions, if I simply told that voice to sit down and shut up, my level of enjoyment increased exponentially.

As in recovery, riding is more about managing my melon than my legs.

And that’s my secret to a happy bike ride.  Fast, or my approximation of slow.

Ride hard, my friends. And enjoy the ride; most aren’t lucky enough to know the joy of riding a bicycle or running.

Riding While Injured… Helpful or Harmful?

I had a fall Tuesday evening, taking the garbage to the curb of all things. We had better than 250 pounds in the can and I stumbled. The weight of the off-kilter wheeled garbage can pulled me down instantly. My skinned knees doubled in size. I have a fair gash in my right middle finger knuckle, and my thumb, pointer and ring fingers are skinned. My glasses were bent, but thankfully not scratched. To round it off, my back was tweaked pretty good, too.

The knees are bruised, but there’s nothing grinding around in there. Still, I was hobbled a little bit Wednesday.

So, I pulled into the driveway after work and contemplated whether or not to ride.  Movement may hurt, but I know darn good and well it will also loosen me up.

I rode on the trainer and it sucked… until I stepped out of the shower. The pain dulled after sitting on the couch for ten minutes, continuing with my movie.  My wife came home with the kids (from swim practice) and some pizza.  We ate dinner together and I went back to the couch to finish Inception.

Awesome movie, by the way.

I drifted off to sleep shortly after 8, went to bed around midnight, and slept till 3 (that’s seven hours for the math challenged)… and woke up feeling 75% better than when I fell asleep.  My legs, especially my knees, showed significant improvement on waking up.  The twinge in my back eased up considerably and I almost feel pretty good again.

All in one night and because of one ride on the trainer – and I thought about quitting five times in the first ten minutes.  I have no doubt, I couldn’t have improved that much in one night had I just taken a day off and “rested” on the couch.

The question, of course, is when one really needs time off from exercise to heal and when one should muscle through it.  I like to err on the side of the latter, though I’m no doctor.  I think there’s a little too much “take two weeks off” and not enough “rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine.”  But that might just be me.

The Most Anticipated Women’s Specific Saddle in the History of Cycling; The Specialized Power Mimic

My wife has had saddle issues for as long as we’ve been riding.  I’m not going to get descriptive here, because it’s simply not necessary.  If you’re a woman, you know the issues.

Specialized set out to fix those issues.  They brought in dozens of women and a couple of scientists and went to work.  The end result was the Specialized Power saddle with Mimic Technology.

Its release was possibly the most anticipated in women’s cycling.  Ever.

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The saddle is so popular the entry-level model, starting at $145, is completely sold out.  Our local shop had two on order, but they weren’t sure when they’d come in so to make sure my wife had hers for Christmas, I ordered the next level up, for $175.  That’s a lot of cheese to spend on a saddle but a possible cure for the angry cycling coochie is worth every penny.  That’s love right there, baby.

Ladies, don’t take my word for it, this is the review that sold me.  If you need more, try here or here.  If you’ve had a tough to impossible time finding a saddle that doesn’t scorch the nether-regions, this sounds like the saddle for you.  Having had the uncomfortable conversation with my wife, and feeling helpless to do anything of any worth, as I read the symptoms the saddle addressed in the review I became ecstatic.  Every one my wife had complained about in the past.

The point being, there’s so much buzz around this saddle, even guys are snapping them up for their bikes (and I’ve heard a lot of good to that end as well).

My friends, this could be the most anticipated cycling saddle ever created.  If you’ve got angry kitty issues, check it out.

#nomoreangrykitty

The Silliest Argument there is for not Wearing a Cycling Helmet on a Bike: They Increase the Chance of Injury.

I read an article that touched a nerve. This is the last line:

Feel free to use your head as you see fit.

I commented on the article by adding, “Including as a means of stopping your bike”…

There isn’t much that gives me the vapors like the argument that a bicycle helmet shouldn’t be worn because it increases the chance of injury in a bike crash because the whole argument against helmets is predicated on the absurd notion that if one simply rides like a grandma, one won’t ever fall over because they’ll never encounter an unexpected situation. And the reason it drives me nuts is I used to think that way, right up until my eight year-old daughter fell directly in front of me – it was either I go down or I run over my little girl. I chose to go down and when I did, missed the pavement with my noggin by less than an inch. The fact that I didn’t split my mush was pure luck, nothing more.

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On the other hand, I know why the argument is made – and that’s what’s important; the ridiculous idea that a government should make helmets mandatory. Hell, the idea that a government can make wearing a bicycle helmet mandatory – or that politicians believe they have the right to regulate the lives of people to such a tiny degree is simply disgusting to me. This shouldn’t come as a surprise once you know I live in the United States. Most of us, at least those who paid attention in our history and political science classes, feel uneasy about government rule, as should be the case.

Actually, let me amend that paragraph… In Europe, South America, and Canada, over-regulation is expected. It’s the norm, so the notion that a population of people should be the petri dish for politicians bent on regulating the lives of their constituents to a point where all they have left to worry about is being happy and following all of the f***ing rules is nothing new. In the United States, it’s something of a turn (excepting California and New York, of course – residents of New York are so stupid they don’t know how to drink soda pop or put salt on their food. They need politicians to regulate those things for them… heh).

Before I go off on a tangent, which I’m precariously close to doing, I wanted to take a moment to interject some sanity into the discussion because if you don’t know how the argument works, you may end up believing something that simply isn’t true.

Let the silliness commence:

in NYC despite increases in helmet wearing they found the grand sum of zero safety benefit, in fact safety went backwards post helmet wearing and post rules for children. So we do know what happened after helmets became more commonplace. You can repeat this in every country you choose to look at incl UK where helmet wearing has increased significantly.

Zero safety benefit? We could call this, “what good people do with bad information”. Exhibit A:

My friend’s melon still looks the same after the accident that cracked his helmet. Here’s the helmet before the accident, lest someone gets the idea that he was a noob who didn’t know how to properly ride his bicycle:

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The jersey says “National Champion”, and it was actually earned. That’s not a “Fred’s Smokehouse Ride through the Park Champion” jersey. I’ve heard him explain that his helmet saved his life and I believe him. I have two more friends, both who cracked their helmets – one had a guy’s chain brake in front of him, the other simply passed out because he was dehydrated… neither had lasting injuries or repercussions because they were wearing a helmet. Zero safety benefit? To claim that is simply wrong.

Another favorite of mine is the canard that cyclists will ride in a manner more dangerous to their health if they wear a helmet; the old “they feel impervious to injury” argument. What a trailer-full of horseshit. The argument assumes that, if we’re not going to wear a helmet, cyclists will trade in their 15 pound race bikes for a beach cruiser with a bell and a basket on the front where we can neatly store our balls when we go for a leisurely cruise around the block to burn twelve calories. They assume a cyclist will turn into a bike rider if they don’t wear a helmet… Wrong.

That’s not what happens. We cyclists don’t trade in our balls for a leisure bike with tassels streaming out the handlebar ends. No, we ride as we normally would, just without a helmet. And the rare accident increases exponentially in severity. Instead of a broken collar bone, we end up with brain damage and the need for a nurse to change the diapers we now require because we have a tendency to crap our pants.

Folks, you can buy stupid if you want, but don’t expect me to jump off the “stupid” cliff holding your hand – even if you do think it’ll be a soft landing.

No thanks.