As you begin to attempt longer bike rides in preparation for events or tours, it’s imperative to focus on overall comfort on the bike. Make sure you are fitted for you bike frame appropriately. I see the riding positions of so many triathletes and the bikes are incorrectly sized for their specific height. Bike fit is definitely important but there are other items to consider when you start moving up the distance on the bike to ensure you stay on the bike as long as possible.
Here are 9 areas to consider changing if experience significant fatigue, soreness, and overall reduction in comfort.
- Seat Type – Believe it or not a firm saddle in most cases is better for handling long distance cycling vs. all the various gel saddles and new gimmicks on the marketplace. Personal preference of course is the most important; try several saddles at your bike store just to sit on to get an overall feel
- Seat Height – Along with appropriate bike fitting, seat height is crucial to ensure you don’t get additional stress on the lower back. How many times have you seen an individual coming off the bike and they are experiencing lower back pain. Many potential causes of lower back pain, but seat height are normally on the list.
- Cycling Shorts – Make sure your cycling shorts have a wicking pad along with good fit. Any bunching can easily lead to saddle sores – trust me on this one!
- Cycling Shoes – Fit of cycling shoes is crucial to eliminate the common occurrence of “hot spots”. When riding in hotter weather your feet will swell so for a long distance event in the summer you may consider a ½ size bigger shoe.
- Pedals – Longer events can cause foot pain and numbness. See how your respond to using a popular Speed Play pedal vs. a large flat plated pedal. Many athletes convert to a flat plate pedal vs. all the
- Helmet – Aero helmets are effective when you in the aero position only. They are an inhibitor when riding in an upright position.
- Aero Bar comfort – Handle bar and aero bar height similar to saddle height can cause significant neck pain along with fingertip pain when not adjusted appropriately. Having a bit higher position on the aero bar will
- Good cycling gloves – Buy a correctly fitted glove and expect numbness in the fingertips for extremely long rides over 200 miles. It just happens!
- Bento Box or (food holder) – Consider using a food box on your top-tube to eliminate reaching back into your shirt pocket for food, etc. It becomes very difficult later into a long event
Comfort on the bike is crucial to great race or event performances. The off-season is a perfect time to experiment with some alternatives.