"long distance" rides
So I plan on taking my bike back to Ohio in October when I visit my family, and I have planned a few rides that are about 30 miles long.
But I’ve never been on any ride that long, and I’m a bit worried about my stamina. Since Ohio is frighteningly flat, that isn’t the issue, it’s mostly that my back starts to ache (like a burning in my lower back) after about 15 miles. Is there anything I can do to combat/prepare for this?
Any tips? I hope to start going on longer rides on my own in pgh beforehand to start working on it, but aside from that, I’m not too sure what else can be done.
Maybe read some Sheldon Brown:
Otherwise, is it 30 miles round trip? Could you take a break halfway through, maybe eat a snack, walk around a little? I imagine that could help
Visit an LBS to make sure you’re a good fit for your bike.
Eat a good breakfast, and bring lots of water and some snacks to keep your energy up.
Just keep turning the pedals over, you’ll get home.
For me, wearing a backpack for more than 5 or 10 miles causes back pain.
+1 to ALMKLM’s suggestion about visiting the local bike shop. It could be that you are sitting with your back slightly arched on the bike and have lost the natural curve in your back. If that’s the case, your spinal erectors (the big muscles in your lower back that run from the top of your hips to the verterbrae in your spine and that hold your spine in place are stretched out to compensate for the lack of the curve. Like any muscle that has to hold itself stretched out, they eventually get tired. The LBS may be able to see it when you’re sitting on the bike.
stefb, where are you when we need your help? :>)
30miles seems like a lot to most people, but it really isn’t..You’ll average at least 10mph..Ride an hour,stop for a bit or ride halfway, eat lunch,rest,take some pictures,read..Then head back out.If your body says to stop, then stop for a bit. Lots of water too.
Long flat rides like in Ohio tend to make issues like back pain, seat pain, hand pain, etc, worse, because people tend to sit in the same position in the saddle much longer than riding in hills, where your position is constantly shifting.
You should try changing around your bike’s fit. You may need slightly higher bars and/or a longer stem. And try to think consciously of NOT curling up your back – put more weight on your arms, think of them as the piers of a suspension bridge, your spine should almost be like the cables of a bridge, suspended between your arms and seat. Think of rolling your pelvis forward as well, if the contact points of your seat start to feel odd when you do that, the angle of your seat may need to be adjusted too.
You should google stretching and strengthening exercises for your lower back, if you are having problems, you should stretch before a ride, and stop at least once an hour and stretch those muscles. I could see once every hour, stopping to lay on your back, and twist your hips relative to your shoulders, but do look up the right stretches.
RF, I know you usually ride with a fairly full messenger style bag which is ok for short trips, but I suspect it might be contributing to some of your pain on farther trips. Maybe you could try using the milk crate for a longer trip and see if it makes it any easier on your back. The suggestion on getting a fitting at a LBS is also a good suggestion if you haven’t done that already. Back pain sucks!
+1 make the bike carry your stuff instead of your body.
you can also do some stretching on the bike, sometimes just riding sitting straight up helps, especially if you can ride hands-off down a gentle descent. sometimes i’ll stand up on the pedals and kind of move my hips forwards to stretch out my lower back. but, taking a break is the best way to do it – there’s a reason most longer rides have a rest stop every 15-20mi.
2-4 minutes of stretching once I’ve warmed up can make a world of difference for me.
If you’re in pain, you probably need to adjust your bike.
I didn’t know you were From Ohio… Insert Ohio jokes here.
well, my plan for that day is to work in the morning, head to the megabus, ride the bus, then ride from Cleveland-North Ridgeville (which is actually a slightly shorter ride than I thought). I plan on carrying my two usual water bottles and at least one gatorade.
I figure when I get to cleveland, I can pick up a milk crate from a gas station, as well as some cliff bars or fruits or something.
I was also thinking of shoving my bag into the crate for the ride, as it will be pretty full of clothes/laptop/etc for the trip.
my other trip is form north ridgeville to oberlin, about 25 miles one way I think. this is the one I’m worried about, because I’m heading to oberlin to have a big meal, haha.
30miles seems like a lot to most people, but it really isn’t..
that’s why “long distance” is in quotes in the thread title
Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I’ve suspected that I need a longer handlebar stem since I got this bike. I actually plan on buying new handlebars, too, so maybe while I’m getting all of that, I can work on making sure everything fits right.
my experience has been that most people actually don’t arch their backs enough when riding bicycles, contrary to what seems to be the advice in this thread.
my advice is to work your way up to it gradually, and address the pains as they come. 30 miles isn’t really that much, but if you have to fight through it and battle pain the whole way, it won’t be much fun, and you won’t ever want to ride more than 30 miles.
Since this thread is here: 50 mile group ride tomorrow – it’s not the distance that intimidates me, it’s that I don’t want to get dropped on some of the insane hills en route. 4,817 ft of elevation gain. L O L?
RF, that sounds like a pretty cool trip. Keep in mind the variability of the weather in October, it can go from 60 to 40 in a few hours, be prepared clothing-wise. And obviously, shorter days, so get early starts, lights ready, that kind of stuff.
Hey RF, I found a steel handlebar that has about 1 1/2″ rise, that you can have, nice and wide too, if you want to fiddle around with that. Not light. I can bring it to town, let me know if you want.
I’ll bring it into town tomorrow, pm me and we’ll figure out how to get it to you.
Back pain solutions (some of these might work)
Walking is like yoga that works. (And I do yoga daily). After an hour or two of riding, just stopping, walking away from the bike for 60-90 seconds then back makes a difference.
Purposeful walking, not hanging around the convenience store waiting for the footlong, as I tend to do.
Guys that have back pain almost always need to stretch their hamstrings.
Mashing and back pain go together like mashed potaoes and gravy (insert variation of the wonderful pharse “Play stupid games, win stupid prizes!”)
When Joe Montana broke his back, he did 3,000 crunches a day to come back the next season.
For me, the issue is just doing some.
And “crunch” is way too strong a word for the ab exercises I sometimes do.
And “crunch” is way too strong a word for the ab exercises I sometimes do.
Ditto. On the vanishingly rare occasions I work my core, I refer to them as “crinkles”.
Keep in mind you’ll most likely have to change your cables and housing with a longer stem and/or riser bar.
I’d never have thought of that, thanks!
I have started stretching every morning and night, and I have noticed that my back (specifically my right hip, stretching down into my knee) doesn’t hurt after standing/walking at work for 10 hours, and if it does, it doesn’t hurt as intensely as it did.
I also have pains if I’m immobile too long. sometimes if I lay down, I have trouble just standing and walking when I get back up. but I think if I do some minor stretches before getting up again, it can help with that.
so I swapped out my bars, and it turns out that I had so much slack on my cable housing before that I didn’t need any new stuff.
As for the new bars, they’re great! I get the feeling that they will make a great difference (I’m a good 2-3 inches higher now).
The closer I get to this trip, the more excited I get for it!
Take a snack. I usually try to eat 100 calories about once an hour but that’s on the hilly Pittsburgh routes. So take atleast 1 small snack (gel, granola bar) and don’t forget the water.
so this was my day yesterday:
worked from 4am-2pm, with breakfast at 6am.
went home to pack, went to my work to disassemble and wrap my bike, which was exhausting. Tried to walk to the bus station, but my bike was too awkward to carry, so I took a cab…4 blocks.
took the bus, couldn’t sleep, got off in cleveland, re-assembled, rode for a bit, got lost, figured it out (partially thanks to stu – the magic of text messaging facebook and google maps. I don’t have a fancy phone).
Then I got lost again, pulled over to ask a friend for directions, realized I was dizzy because I hadnt eaten, and was about to call someone for a ride, when my friend told me that I was a few turns away from my parents house.
And by “a few turns,” he meant “go through the pitch black park, then spend a few miles on each road until you know where you are.” I ended up in a park, and my lights were low (I couldn’t find my primary headlight, and my rechargables weren’t lasting, despite being fully charged before starting). I nearly started crying when there was a street that wasn’t marked.
I finally found a street I was familiar with, stopped at the 24 hour walgreens, bought 2 cliff bars, a gatorade, and a water (mine were running low).
Shoved the cliff bars into my head, chugged the water and the gatorade, then found a 4 foot vine that was stuck around one of the cogs on my rear derailleur, and had been there for about 3 miles, since the park. I also then learned that I had lost my hoodie somewhere along the way, so I just had my tshirt to wear.
from there it was a straight shot into my town, about 5 more miles. This part was pretty enjoyable, seeing things from an old familiar perspective. I rode on a familiar sidewalk for about a block, and the bumps in the sidewalk seemed to be exactly the same as when I was 10.
Left Pittsburgh at 6pm, got my mom’s house at about 2am. It was cold.
Also, I am really sore right now, but there was no back pain! mostly neck, shoulder, and elbow.
Makes me really want to try a long ride, one day I’ll have to follow reddan on one of his epic rides
RF, any idea how long that trip ended up being? Looked like it might be on the high end of 20 miles. The piece I helped you with was about 5, IIRC, and you were nowhere near that route you mapped out about 20 posts back.
this was my basic route:
I must’ve looks crazy when I showed up at walgreens covered in grease, and bought cliff bars, gatorade, and water, asking, “what city is this?”
notes from this week
-Plain dealer drivers are much more courteous than PG drivers
-People in the suburbs tend to treat a cyclist in the road as an oddity, and therefore try to really avoid you.
-people stop at stop signs here! and use turn signals! such a novel idea!
-the roads are SO MUCH WORSE here.
I took my best friend on a bike ride, and she was terrified of riding in the street. I tried to say, “Just do what I do,” but she was too scared to let go of one handlebar to signal. I tried to take the whole lane when it was empty to show confidence to her so maybe she would feel better, but I think it was kind of a lost cause. we went to eat and got a ride back.
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