Sunday, October 15, 2006

I wanna be a normal kid

I didn't set out to be different. If I could I would be riding the bike pictured above for my brevets. My Surly Long Haul Trucker handles well and it is my bike of choice for most rides. So why buy a recumbent you ask? Well it is simple after about 120kms my butt and shoulders are really uncomfortable. I have tried many saddles settling on a Brooks Champion Flyer and I have adjusted my position to try and improve the fit. For "normal" riding the Surly is plenty comfortable, but when you start to talk about distances of 200kms to 1200kms forget it. If I worked really hard and persevered a lot of discomfort I could complete a 200k brevet, but I wouldn't have fun. I also certainly wouldn't be lining up for a 600k brevet.

I have also started to suffer from some hand and elbow RSI's - presumably from keyboarding (like right now!). Long hours on a DF exacerbates these problems. I have switched my mouse to my left hand and made my workstations more ergonomic. I have also started wearing an elbow brace and improved my technique for biking to reduce my arm/hand strain. This seems to have worked for distances up to 100-120kms after which the problems begin to manifest again.

I don't know if I am weak, if other people are just able to endure more discomfort or if I am just unique in my discomfort on a DF bike over long distances? I guess it doesn't really matter. You have to ride your own race and mine is going to be on a recumbent.

I haven't given up on the Surly LHT or DF bikes in general. In fact for my commute I use a Cannondale R800 and love it. For the rest of my general riding, errand running and touring I use the LHT. I am going to get a professional bike fit this winter for my LHT and I will keep tweaking it in the hopes of getting it more and more comfy. If it ends up being as comfortable as my recumbent I'll probably switch back and ride the LHT in brevets. I like the way it feels to ride a DF bike, the way I can move around on it and the way I can stand on the pedals to climb.

When I see people my age who are so physically deteriorated they could not even ride a bike for 30mins I am just glad that I am able to ride my bikes (DF & recumbent) as much as I do. Why worry about which kind of bike when we should just be happy to be riding at all.

I'll keep riding both kinds of bikes and I hope that will actually help avoid any future RSI's by varying my position between three different bikes.

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