Bicycle Network: Skill Up
Make your ride more comfortable.
If you've got your bike adjusted correctly to your body, start thinking about these simple riding techniques. You will stop feeling aches, reduce your injury and find yourself riding more powerfully and comfortably.
Rule of thirds
When you're cycling, try to think of the rule of thirds. Distribute your body weight more-or-less evenly between your hands, your feet and your seat. Following this rule, you'll probably find yourself leaning forwards at an angle of 30 to 45 degrees - halfway between an upright position and a low, crouching position. With your weight evenly distributed like this, you're less likely to feel pressure on your back or stomach.
Ways to alleviate back, shoulder and arm discomfort:
- Try not to keep your head and neck still in one position for a long time. Occasionally tilt it or roll it from side to side. This will reduce strain and stiffness.
- Be conscious of letting your legs do as much of the work as possible. Keep your shoulders and upper body relaxed, even when going uphill.
- Try and keep your back straight, not bowed or hunched. Imagine you're trying to point your belly button at the top tube of your bike.
- Keep your elbows slightly bent to absorb shock, and hold them in line with your body. Keep your arms relaxed by not gripping too tightly.
- Don't grip the bar too tightly. Change hand position often to avoid constant pressure, as this can make the hands numb. If your hands do start to become numb or you start feeling pins and needles, gently shake them out until they return to normal.
These tips will help you with your pedal power:
- Concentrate on making smooth circles when you pedal. Actively use your hamstrings to pull back at the bottom of the stroke (instead of just relying on the movement of the pedal), then raise your heel on the upstroke and bring your knee forward toward the handlebar.
- Pedals fitted with toe clips place the foot correctly on the pedal and increase efficiency of cycling. They can take a little getting used to (don't forget to take your feet out at the lights!) but you will notice a major difference in your cycling. If you do use toe clips, be sure they allow about 2cm clearance between the tips of your shoes, otherwise you will have a hard time getting your feet in and out.
- For better leverage, slide backward on the saddle when climbing or pushing big gears. Move forward for increased leg speed during sprints or other short, hard efforts.
How to stay comfortable in the saddle:
- Sometimes on a longer ride you may get numbness in the nether regions that will go away in a few hours. If you are constantly experiencing numbness, check your saddle adjustment to make sure it's at the right height and position.
- During riding, your 'sit' bones (the bones under the flesh of your bottom) should be perched on the broader rear portion of the seat. Women take note: if your seat isn't wide enough for proper support, consider buying a saddle that is anatomically designed for women.
- Make sure you are wearing clothes that do not rub while you are pedalling. Cycling knicks are ideal because they are seamless, and won't chafe. Don't wear underwear with your knicks, as this may defeat the purpose!
By Lisa Dempster