Posted by: dave1949 | 2012/02/24

Comfort Biking

It’s almost time. I am one of those wimpy cyclists. I hate riding in bad weather. Bad in this case is anything colder than about 15 degrees. I have found since losing the weight I get chilled very easily. Another odd thing is that with the rebuilding of my neck and jaw the right side of my face is very very susceptible to stiffening up in anything chilly. Also this puts a strain on my jaw as the muscle brought up from my chest tends to pull down and to the right when it gets cold. Even before this however I disliked riding in the cold.
MY feet and hands get numb and something few men talk about, cold wind gets funneled right between your legs into your crotchal area. I have gotten off a bike in the winter before only to find that I was completely numb there. An alarming thing for a young man.

As to comfort on a bike all is relative. When you ride very much at all you soon develop the muscles needed for posture on the bike as well as for motivation. YOur ass hardens and adapts to the seat as does the seat to your ass and your hands and feet get used to the vibration and pressures of the handlebar and pedals.

Long ago I started to realize that the specialized clothing worn by cyclists was generally designed over decades to make riding more comfortable and more efficient. The padding in the shorts and gloves along with the hard sole and cleats on the shoes all lend a bit of support to making biking comfortable and easy compared to riding in shorts and sneakers. As for helmets, I use one about 99% of the time. I’m not convinced that they are very needed in a non racing environment. Nor do I think they save nearly as many lives or injuries as the safety mavens would have us believe but that said they are now so light and also protect me a bit form the sun that I usually wear one anyway. I have to admit that on occasion when I know I’m just going on a short trip to the store or something I go without my helmet and taunt fate. I’m just a rebel like that.

Several years ago I did find however that even as the season progressed and I got fitter and tougher from a lot of riding, I couldn’t get the same comfort on the bike I used to have. On one particular trip I took to Baltimore I found that as the trip continued my shoulder started to ache more and more.

I have dislocated my right shoulder a couple of times in my life and after falling from a horse I dislocated it again but also drove it down and in towards my chest that time breaking six ribs in the process. Since then, I suppose because of old age it has never been quite the same. I then found that when I rode for more than a couple of days in a row it got worse and worse instead of getting better.

THe solution I came up with was to get a recumbent bike. What a breakthrough. The particular model I chose is designed more for touring than racing so the efficiency compared to a good diamond frame road bike isn’t very different. After a few thousand kms I think I can say it is a bit better on the flat but a bit worse climbing a hill. More useful to me however was the comfort the bike gave me.

With a posture like sitting in an easy chair there is no pressure on my hands or arms. They are in front of me almost like steering a car. My head is vertical and there is no strain on my back or neck. I found another benefit to this posture. I can see. With my head up like that the surrounding country is available for viewing with ease. I no longer ride with my nose over the front wheel looking at the world over the top of my glasses. I am instead treated to the view of the world rolling by in panorama view.

It’s the end of February now and the weather man says we are due for another snowstorm today. Right now it seems to be missing us again like they have most of this very mild winter. We are however right on the edge of getting the rain falling now turning into snow. Regardless whether it hits or not the fact is the winter is practically over and as soon as the temperature climbs another 10 degrees I’m getting back out on the bike and checking out the peninsula again.

There is no better way to get around on a nice day. In spite of what Rob Ford thinks.

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