Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cycling and Comfort: When Does It Hurt?

Small confession: For the past couple of days, I have been using my road bike for transportation. Not out of choice, but out of necessity - I can't spend more than 2 minutes on any of my upright or semi-upright bicycles right now without pain.

In my excitement about Marianne's conversion, I took her on her longest ride yet as a fixed gear - 28 miles. For the first 20 miles, everything was fine. The bike's geometry has never been the most comfortable, but as a fixed gear it felt better than ever and I was pedaling happily. But then, with just 8 miles to go, I suddenly became aware of a rapidly growing discomfort - not just in one area, but in several: in my shoulders, arms, back, pelvis, joints - pain seemed to be everywhere and it attacked me all at once. By the time I got home, I felt as if I had been run over by a train. I took some Ibuprofen and expected it would go away in the morning. But when I tried to ride my vintage Raleigh the next day, I felt the same pain immediately and barely managed to cycle to my destination a mere mile from home.

Mysteriously, I can still ride my roadbike with zero of the pain I experience on the upright bikes. Somehow being in the drop-bar position on the comfortable Rivendell does not activate any of the same discomfort. So, I am now in the ironic situation where I can go for 35 mile rides on a roadbike, but can't cycle for even a couple of miles on any of my city bicycles. Argh!

My working hypothesis of what happened is that while riding Marianne, my legs grew tired of the fixed gear pedaling, and without realising it I began to put more stress on my arms, hands, butt, and everything else. And because the mixte is semi-upright, this damaged some joints in a way that the pain only shows up in the upright position, but not in a leaned-over position. Does that make any sense as a possibility?

But this particular situation aside, I have been thinking a lot lately about comfort, and, more specifically, about when it is appropriate to declare that a bicycle is "comfortable".  Had I limited my rides on Marianne to 20 miles at a time or less, I would have thought she was perfectly comfortable. I could have ridden her this way for years, thinking that I had a comfortable bike - but I would have been wrong. And that is why it is so difficult to determine a bicycle's comfort based on the sort of test rides you take at the bike shop, or even short rides on your own. Bicycle A might feel better than Bicycle B after a short spin, but how will they compare after mile 20? mile 50? mile 100? You just do not know, until you actually ride the bicycle for that distance.

52 comments:

  1. Love the setup on your Rivendell. Very nice!

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  2. i rode my fixy about 170 miles last year all in one go, and was pretty sore the next day, but after a day of rest I was fine. In retrospect I think I would not do that again, as it was pretty brutal, but it was nice to say that I was able to do it.

    Usually when I find myself getting really really tired I will try to keep a third of my weight on my butt, a third on my feet and a third on my arms, and make a conscious effort to keep it that way.

    Good luck with healing. Lots of water, and bananas will help.

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  3. Beautiful setup on the Rivendell, but I'm so sorry to hear about your aches! How frustrating! Good luck healing, and I hope you're able to pinpoint the problem.

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  4. Marianne probably needs a B17-short ultimately.

    If anyone wants to buy a nicely broken-in (did it myself) Brooks Flyer Special (men's) with copper rivets and dark chestnut leather, let Velouria know.

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  5. It makes perfect sense because the road bike and road riding position is far superior for situations where you are in the saddle for very long periods and or where you are working hard. The upright city bike position is enjoyable, but for me only practical for relatively short periods (maybe less than an hour and a half tops) and for leisurely to moderate work.

    I’m a former road and crit racer, and also did a lot of endurance events like centuries, double centuries, brevets and the like. I did a lot of commuting too but to be honest this was just all about getting in more training. As I am no spring chicken these days I have begun to explore other forms of cycling that don’t involve competition and training and so have been fooling around with city bikes for a couple years. I had been a roadie for so long that I nearly forgot the simple pleasures of leisure and transportation-oriented riding, such as in an upright casual style (hence my acquiring a Raleigh DL1 for this purpose). And also riding just for fun with my family! But I digress.

    To me the difference is that in the road position you are forward (horizontal) enough that you are able to distribute the weight of your body evenly amongst arms butt and legs and you can pivot up and down on your hips (i.e. back straight and everything else bent and compressible). Also, on a road bike you can get out of the saddle and dance on the pedals. It loosens you up I tell ya.

    In contrast, in the upright city bike position you tend to ride heavy in the saddle. While this is comfortable at first, it eventually becomes wearisome on longer rides IMO. I think it’s because instead of using your whole body you are concentrating work to only certain muscles and joints, and are not flexing. Bad habits like slouching, or locking your arms straight, or hunching your shoulders are killer.

    Long distance riding is where you begin to notice less about the bike and more about yourself as the engine. We tend to be overly focused on the bike and should pay more attention to the activity/motion itself. Like working on being smooth and efficient and comfortable in distance riding, developing skills and habits, breathing, finding one’s groove or tempo, and also coming to grips with the discomforts and suffering; these things are all important. Errrr… don’t ask me why. It just is!

    Also I agree (with your last para), you don't know for sure what works for long distance until you go long distance. In addition to the bike this includes clothing, shoes and food. The littlest things can creep up and annoy you to know end. Only experience can discover and eliminate them.

    Sorry for such a monstrously long comment, but I like the topic.

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  6. I'm not sure you can ever talk of "comfort" on a bike. Lack of discomfort, perhaps, but "comfort" has more to do with sofas than bikes.

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  7. Cecil says . I had the same problem for about a year along with a backache. Finally a raleigh gruv crank forward and a sun ez sunray sx semi recumbent. Pain gone Great rides Best wishes

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  8. I'm sorry you're hurting, Velouria. Your theory makes sense to me, as do the commenters who suggest a day or two of rest followed by shorter distances on the city bikes will fix things.

    Thank you very much for yet another helpful post. I always say this, but you have a gift for taking your experiences and making them relevant and helpful to others.

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  9. Nick - I am familiar with that line of argument (mainly from roadies), but I vehemently disagree. My Rivendell Sam Hillborne feels *comfortable*. Not "lacking discomfort" but actually comfortable. Yes, it is comparable to sitting on a sofa. Or more like lying on my stomach on a sofa while pedaling with my legs and grasping the arm of the sofa with my hands. If they can do it, then it *is* possible; just a matter of designing the bike right.

    Saint Bif - Having gotten used to drop bars, I agree about roadbikes being more appropriate for long distance. I *can* cycle (and have cycled) over 50 miles on an upright bike. But it was not the best experience, and now that I am competent on a roadbike (and own a comfortable one), I much prefer to ride one for any distance over 20 miles at a time.

    Having said that, I should note that I had never gotten the kind of bizarre injury described in this post from other 28-mile rides on my upright bicycles. So I am thinking this case in particular is unique to this specific bike + the fixed gear.

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  10. I don't have any experience with fixies, but, years ago I rode for several weeks on a road bike that was kindly lent to me whilst mine was getting fixed post crash. It was a really bad fit and even the 30km commute was quite tiring and I got very sore arms and shoulders.

    One thing I did find helped was a sort of "body scan". I got into the habit of assessing myself from my head down to my feet to see if I was tensed in any area more than usual. Sure enough, arms and shoulders. I would then relax those areas as much as possible whilst still having them function as needed. The bonus was that this worked on other areas too, so my legs, back, etc. also became relaxed. It's something I still do from time to time when I'm tired, cycling further than usual or with a full load. You suddenly find, when you've fixed up your balance, repositioned and relaxed as much as possible you've got extra energy for cycling.

    Hope your aches and pains go quickly. In the meantime, what a lovely excuse for a long, hot bath.

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  11. It is the beginner's body that need to be 'seasoned' for that kind of ride(s). Following some advice, I began by riding short distances but 'more frequently' and soon my body (its muscles etc) became 'attuned' for such rides and for longer distances. ('Complete Comfort' in long distance rides ... hmmmm ... not 'realizable' ... I think. )
    L

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  12. Hmm I don't know - I have been riding for over 20 miles/day on various bikes for over a year. Do I still have a beginner's body?

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  13. I agree with Saint Bif regarding positioning and also know from many years of study that most people don't know what comfort is until they have experienced it. Humans are remarkably adaptive and give them this quality, an opposable thumb and a big brain and look what can happen!

    Velouria, I believe that you have discovered that a fixed gear bike ridden on the road provides a much more intensive workout and who knows what your position is. Can you ask your co-habitant to photograph you in profile while riding your lovely machines? It would make a great comparative study.

    Finally, my empirical experience tells me that about 18 months is needed to turn from slug to athlete. When you train with intensity for that long, your body will totally transform. It is a good thing! Thank you for sharing all you do with us.

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  14. Maybe a weekly yoga or stretching class would help balance your body. I would say that would not be necessary were you only cycling for transport but what you're now doing is much more athletic and it sounds like it would be beneficial to unlock your body a bit with a different kind of activity. I'm sorry you're hurting!

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  15. I suggest a visit to Harris with a painful bike to see if there are any fitting details they can suggest, especially if it recurs when you are riding molested you have done before recently. Second set of eyes and all that...

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  16. As a beginner myself, back to bicycling after 20 years of a break, I can already tell that the upright to nearly upright position could most likely never be good on the body or comfortable for long rides. I have a Motobecane mixte as well, same color however I think it is a slightly different year, but very close. It is still being fixed up but I don't plan on using it for long distance. I'm putting a pretty basket on it and using it for light fun around town. I'll probably put the Albatross bars on it too. I am not a fan of the loop frame/heavy bikes so I really am not fully upright much. I primarily ride my inexpensive Bianchi cross-terrain Torino (with Brooks B67). I have a vintage Schwinn Le Tour given to me free that has been fixed up with a Brooks 67s and Velo Orange's Tourist bars. It's a very *nice* ride, but am starting to think I need to put drop bars back on and use it for longer distance. Amazingly, the bike I thought would not be the one I ride much (Bianchi) gets ridden the most. I agree with all the posts... you just don't know what you will like until you ride for longer periods of time. I do want to have a bicycle intended for longer distance rides such as your Hillborne, just not sure yet what I will do yet. Love your blog and best wishes on fast healing!

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  17. Sounds like Marianne is just determined to find some way to make you unhappy with her! Hope you feel better soon.

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  18. @Velouria 6:03AM. I doubt it. I think Saint Bif gets it a good part of the way there, and you cover the rest in your article. Fixed gear pedaling is more tiring.

    Consider the following quasi scientific experiment. I bought a cheap 10 speed road bike that I was going to convert to fixed. Before I did I rode it 50 miles round trip out to Walden Pond and back. No real discomfort other than some minor soreness in the hindquarters.

    After I converted it, I did the same ride (not exactly but very close) and the last few miles were sort of a bear. Pain was in the knees, butt, thighs, shoulders.

    I did not change the saddle or saddle-height. I did not change the handlebars except for new tape. The only appreciable difference was the fixed gear. I ground up hills in a gear that was too high. I spun madly going down on the other side. You're legs can't rest. Even if you let them go limp the drivetrain is still moving them, stretching the muscles about. It's just tougher to ride such a bike for long distances.

    P

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  19. It sounds to me that there was be a difference in the fit. It could be that the fixe over extended certain muscles. It also sounds like the rivendell is a perfect fit for you. The other bikes might need some re-adjustment.

    While I'm sure you have done this I will mention it anyway. Do some stretching and massage everyday to work out the kinks.

    I was off the road bike for a quite a while and was only riding my townie. When I got back on the road bike I had a problem with discomfort over 25 miles. Then I bought a new road bike with a little more relaxed geometry. It made all the difference in the world for riding longer distances. I still ride the townie from time to time, but anything over 5 miles is painful for me. The townie puts most of the weight on my butt. If I lean over like on a road bike the pain is bearable.

    I hope you get your pain worked out and can once again enjoy riding all of your bicycles.

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  20. Oh no, hope you feel better soon!

    Here's my question: now that you're using your road bike so much, does the seat give you any problems? Or do you have a comfortable enough seat or perhaps your body is used to it? Now that I've gotten more comfortable on my road bike and have a new road bike to use, I've been excited to take it out more. But without the padded shorts I use on trails (and that I would NEVER use for commuting to work, the store, etc) my butt is just in all sorts of pain. Maybe this is a road bike novice affliction and it might go away, but I was wondering if you had any thoughts, tips on this?

    Get well soon! S.

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  21. One other thing that just occurred to me is the importance of rest. It could be that you simply need a rest. Alan at EcoVelo commented on this recently as well.

    I have been taking mondays and fridays off the bike. If I don't "feel" it I might take the weekend off sometimes as well.

    You have been riding a lot lately. Even endurance cyclists take rest periods so that their bodies can rejuvenate and repair. It actually takes self-discipline to take a rest.

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  22. Simply Bike - I have a Brooks B17S ("short", not "special") on my Rivendell. It feels great and I ride without padded shorts. If you do get a Brooks, I would stay away from the "special" versions of models, as they are harder to break in.

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  23. Re those suggesting that it's stretching/experience - I am doubtful that this is the cause, given that I have been already cycling regularly at a fairly high milage (not just for transportation; I mean sporty cycling). More and more I am thinking that if riding an upright bicycle long-distance is ill-adviced, then riding an upright fixed gear for that distance is even more so. If I want to go for 28 miles on a fixed gear, I need to do so on a fixed gear roadbike...

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  24. I think that even though your big muscles are comfortable going long distances, your micro-muscles may not be adapted to the position of riding on Marianne for that long. It's not just a matter of being fit, but of building up strength and endurance for that particular bike and configuration.

    Marathon runners for example would never run a marathon in a new pair of shoes, even the same brand and model as the ones they've trained in. Standard practice is to break in a new pair of what you trained with about 100 miles before you do the race.
    I've been thinking about starting barefoot running, and one of the cautions I read a lot, especially with the "five fingers" sock-shoes is that you can feel so good running that way, that you can do real damage by going too far too soon.

    I think it's possible that you could have done a 10 mile, then a 15 mile, then a 20 mile, then a 25 mile on Marianne without too much trouble- i.e. it might not be the distance so much as the micro-conditioning.
    I personally wouldn't want to not be able to coast for that long- but that's just me.
    I rode Robert 30 miles once without any issues- it was just like my daily ride except 6 times longer. But I had been riding him daily for a year and a half, so my body was completely tuned to his geometry.

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  25. I am uncomfortable on an upright bike going any distance. I commute on my touring bike and find it a beautifully stable ride.

    Velouria - never underestimate the power of ice to relieve muscle and joint pain.

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  26. Cycler - I see what you mean and that's a good point. I have ridden my DL-1 for 30 miles as well and found it fine; my Pashley for 20 miles. I have ridden Marianne for 40 miles in the past, but not as a fixed gear.

    As for not coasting - I know it must sound crazy, but I actually prefer it, unless there are major hills.

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  27. "You just do not know, until you actually ride the bicycle for that distance."

    Good point. I know I "survive" 25 miles on my bike with the current setup, but I didn’t try greater distances yet.
    Best wishes for a speedy recovery.

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  28. Kevin - That is a good idea to get comparison shots of riding all of my bikes in profile!

    The difference in seating position that I feel makes an impact is not just the degree to which I lean toward the handlebars, but the way my pelvis pivots(?) on the saddle. Don't know how to explain this, but on the Rivendell I can rotate my pelvis, so that different parts of my crotch (sorry if that is too graphic!) come in contact with the saddle, depending on how aggressive or relaxed I want the ride to be. On an upright bike, I cannot do this kind of pivoting and it is always the same part that is on the saddle. During long rides, this ability/inability to shift my sitting position begins to make a real difference.

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  29. Noticed that on the Riv, your upper bar is higher than the seat. Do you always ride in the drops? If not, do you ever experience any pain when not in the drops? That seems to be somewhat of an upright position to me.

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  30. I don't know if it pertains, but I used to have a lot of backaches, and now that I ride a road bike they seem to be gone. I think the road bike distributes the wight of the body, it just makes my wrists hurt, point is I know what you means.

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  31. On a road bike you are not sitting but balancing on the seat

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  32. I'd be looking at the saddles you're using. If you were a guy, perineal issues would be 'pressing' - as a woman? Also, if you have any spinal swelling, it can really affect a lot in your body.

    I have AS (degenerative arthritis, mainly in the spine - but everywhere else as well), and I *have* to remain upright. Any sustained forward position is intolerable - I was riding my old road bikes without touching the handles, which wasn't safe. My Pashley with it's VERY springy seat is showing up in two days.

    I'd check seat height on the one that is comfortable and see if you can replicate the way your legs are positioned, et al, on your other bikes. I'll bet it's related to pressure on a nerve and/or inflammation.

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  33. Anon 12:40 - I have a very short torso. Even with the bars at the level where they are now, I am more leaned over when on the hoods than the average person I see riding a road bike. However, I have recently (after these photos were taken) further lowered the stem and the bars are now level with the saddle. Just took me a little while to get to the point where I was comfortable with that, since I am relatively new to drop bars.

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  34. No way do you have a beginner's body. However, looking at all those traps, I wonder whether you overdosed on lobster the night before. It's a known cause of inflammation, and has been banned in competitive cycling.

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  35. This is a bit of a tangent, but all this talk of upright vs leaned-over riding has me wondering if you have done or would do a "how to choose a road bike" tutorial. The one you did on choosing a vintage mixte saved me from making a couple of purchasing mistakes.

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  36. I'm not sure anyone has ever been comfortable on a French mixte, fixed or not, for long distances. I had one and didn't like it; passed it on to my SO, who didn't like it; it finally ended up with a friend who uses it only for short city trips and likes it just fine. They look great, but there's something about that geometry that just doesn't feel good after a while.

    FWIW, that friend removed the albatross bars I'd put on the mixte and replaced them with the original drops. I thought it looked much better with the upright bars, but he likes it better that way.

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  37. First off, hope you feel better soon! I just got on my Bridgestone today after not riding her for a few weeks and boy is she uncomfortable! She's *always* been very comfortable! I've become so used to and fond of my handlebars on my Raleigh mixte (inverted northroad-ish bars) that the moustache bars on the Bstone bordered on torture. I rode to the office and to a doc appt and kept wishing it would end. We'll see how the ride home goes. I'd already been contemplating doing something different with her handlebar set up, especially before winter as she's my go-to in harsh weather. That just popped up a bit higher on the priority list after today!

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  38. Great discussion. Hope the pain soon goes away. I just completed a 250 mile tour on an ANT mixte touring bike. No lasting pain, though had my moments of aches in sit bones and quads. My position is fairly upright, a necessity for my back, and I have mustache handlebars. I think we each have to find what works for us/

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  39. Velouria, I think there is alot to be said for a couple of the suggestions so far... BBs comment about doing the occasional body-scan on the bike even before you start getting uncomfortable. Sounds so obvious now that it was mentioned but I never thought about doing it before. I usually start my investigations after my behind actually starts glowing. I think I'll try to do that intentionally on my different bikes for a while.

    The other comment I think makes a lot of sense was Cycler's incremental increase of milage for new or newly modified bikes. BUT, I think your issues may have as much to do with it being a fixed gear as anything else. My experiance with the fixeie has been that when you are'nt pushing, sometimes you will find that the bike is putting your muscles/joints in stressfull positions without you even being aware of it. I found myself trying to get comfortable on mine after long distances by shifting around and changing my position like I do on my geared bike. Positions where I would normally coast or at least not have a pedal relentlessly forcing my leg into unaccustomed positions(binds?). It was sort of surprising, like when I realized all those years ago that not only was I not pulling up on the backstroke with clips and straps, but that I was actually pushing down a little and fighting myself. When you know it you can feel it. I can't move around on my fixeie nearly as much so I try harder to be smooth and constant.

    And I agree with you about comfortable bikes. My roadbike is a hardcore steel roadracer, tight angles, skinny skinny tires etc. and that bike never makes me sore. I get tired and give up before I get uncomfortable. I had an almost identicle bike for a while a couple of years ago that I could never get so happy on. The only differences should have made it MORE comfy but that bike would go from pretty OK to quivery-lipped whining misery in about 10 miles on along ride. I'm glad I kept the old one because it is still my all-time best bike.

    Spindizzy

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  40. Fighting . . . urge to [type your book here].

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  41. I find that I cannot ride a fixed-gear bike with any kind of bars but the dropped variety. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that when you ride fixed, you're constantly in motion. This is particularly noticeable in the pelvic area.

    Riding with dropped bars takes some weight off that part of the body. Plus, they're more efficient because they allow you to use the muscles in your legs, pelvis and torso in greater unity. I think that much discomfort is caused by disparities in stress between one part of the body and another. Dropped bars help to alleviate this, particularly when you're riding a fixed gear.

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  42. Thanks Justine,

    Graham has just gotten his handlebars lowered yet again, and a VO bell mounted on the stem. Oh, and we are almost done building up a fixed gear roadbike from a Francesco Moser frame I had mailed to myself from Vienna. Hopefully I will be able to take it on long rides!

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  43. Very puzzling.

    I've ridden "sit up and beg" bicycles (as some of my friends derisively call them) for quite long distances. I always had them set up to be very comfortable for my urban use of 5 miles or so. What I would notice on 20-30 mile rides is some saddle discomfort because of all the weight on the saddle, and more leg/glut muscle discomfort because I couldn't shift around and use different muscle groups. And probably more tired than on my dropbar touring bike due to the higher wind resistance and less efficient muscle use.

    But not pain everywhere as you describe. Interesting. I've never ridden a fix gear long distance, so I wonder, as you also speculated, whether that is a major component of the problem.

    So I think you are right - the bike was not fitted perfectly and that combined with the fix gear caused you to pedal in various odd positions trying to relieve the stress, causing damage to various body parts.

    I hope you didn't hurt your joints like you were thinking. I'm guessing not and it is just muscle strain and inflammation. Have you fully recovered at this point?

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  44. Having stumbled across this site I immediately fell in love with Marianne and have caught the DIY bug. Only thing is I'm at a loss when it comes to sizes...ebay seems full of bargains but not so great if I'm pedalling past my ears. Any advice for a 5ft5er and a mixte frame size?

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  45. I've met this woman on our local MS ride. She does the 150 miles on a single-speed upright wearing a skirt and pumps:http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/10/28/eiko.irpt/index.html

    She doesn't appear to suffer any ill effects in spite of being in her 80s. She really inspired me regarding bicycle transportation.

    ANYWAY - due to neck problems I plan to go back to an upright geometry. As I posted above, I did this before but it was quite a while ago. I'm interested in finding out if I can still be comfortable doing longer rides ( say 30 miles) on an upright. So I'm very interested in your outcome.

    Since I've been inspired by your site, I'm going to try to put together a very nice looking 3- or 5-speed internal hub roadster.

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  46. Hope you're feeling better!

    BTW,
    You need to train the Co-Habitant to do sports massage. The Scientist and I have been experimenting (that sounds kinkier than it is) mostly after a lot of DIY house work that tends to kink the torso and lower back, and it's amazing what kinds of soreness can be averted with a 10 minute massage by someone who's paying attention to the knots.

    Then again, as someone said above, ice is the best healer.
    after any run over 20 miles I take an ice bath (2 bags of ice in 6" of cold water). It's a B*tch to get into it, but the next day I'm 1000% better for having done it. Also my triathlete chiropractor suggested an Aleive before bed. That way you get the anti-inflammatory benefits of the drug, without the false impression that you're cured and license to re-hurt yourself.

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  47. cycler - Alas, I am one of those neurotic women who hates massages. I do give him massages though after he works on my bikes : )

    Anon 9:48 - Depending on where you like the saddle to be in relation to the pedals, you should be good with a 19"-21" frame size.

    Peter - I can do 30 mile rides on my upright bikes without problems, especially if it's not too hilly.

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  48. Jefe - The lobsters! I feed that prison food to my bicycles.

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  49. After biking trips of 200+ miles both ways now, I myself prefer the upright (or more upright at least). It's more comfortable for my back and less wearing on hands.

    I did notice more fatigue from wind resistance and was grateful to rest forearms on handlebars to rest. But for me the glut discomfort (TB - tired bottom) seems to have more to do with seat architecture and positioning than whether or not it's upright.

    Could it just be getting used to it?

    I hope in any case you're recovering well.

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  50. Sorry to hear this and I hope you're feeling better already.

    I agree with Jefe re Anon's comment - no way do you have beginner's body. I like BB's advice for doing a full body check for tension. I could use this not only for bicycling, but for life in general.

    I have to disagree with Christina and others who say a semi-upright bike is never comfortable for long distances. I've ridden my Rivendell Betty Foy mixte over 60 miles at one time with no discomfort. In fact, one of the reasons I bought that bike was for light touring that I plan to do one day, eventually.

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  51. Hi Velouria -- I only scanned the previous comments but as a bodyworker I tend to agree with the previous commenter that the pain probably stemmed from the pelvis or back, being that it went, as you said, "everywhere" in your body. In other words, it seems like it came from a core place, related to alignment. Actually, I was just reading Sheldon Brown and how he talks about the back always needing some arch in it as we ride, because it acts as our flexor. A road bike cants you forward and so your spine would be arched over more. Vertically, according to Brown, we arch our backs less or may even be swayback, especially if the seat tips forward somewhat. His solution for people who need or want to ride upright is to make sure there's a shock mechanism in the seat post, or good cushy springs under the seat, etc. I ride upright and am comfortable, but like you I have never taken 'her' out for more than a 15-16 mile ride. After a certain point it may be that your body just got tired after absorbing a multitude of mild shocks not otherwise well-accommodated. Pain like that *can* come on quickly, and it takes awhile to heal. I hope you are feeling better now!

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