One of the toughest things I’ve had to adapt to since being back on the bike is the idea of riding with a relaxed posture. Elbows bent, shoulders and neck relaxed. It’s always been second nature to me to ride with straight arms, which pushes my shoulders up, so I’m a bit hunched at the neck.
I’ve read articles in magazines and on web sites, chapters in books, and heard from experienced cyclists to relax. “Bend those elbows!” they say. I comply immediately. For about a minute and a half.
When I was being fitted for the new bike, the salesperson had to remind me several times to bend my elbows and drop my shoulders. “I know it,” I said. “But it’s hard to break a bad habit.”
So this afternoon, I decided to concentrate on riding relaxed. I bent my elbows as I pulled out of the driveway, and pretty much kept them that way. The position felt all right, but not all-out comfortable. I tried varying the amount of bend in the elbows. Mostly, that just helped me move around on the bike. Any change is good for comfort, but I’m not discovering that one go-to position that I’d like to have. Then, the hills come, and I’m sitting back on the saddle with my hands on top of the bar. Once the road flattens out, I’m searching again for the elusive go-to position. When my hands are on the hoods, the handlebar blocks my view of the front hub, which is as it is supposed to be, from what I’ve read. So, I must be in more or less the right position. But it just doesn’t feel normal. What’s a fella to do?
Smile…seriously. When your face is relaxed your body is relaxed. My favorite position is on the hoods. Although I mix it up a lot. Lots of times I’ll ride with one on the bar and one on the hood. I change gears often…like REALLY often. So I usually keep my right hand on the hood.
I rarely ride in the drops…usually only when battling wind or trying to increase my speed down hill. The hoods are definitely the most comfortable position for me. Did they do a fitting for you? As in adjust the stem and your bars? Or did they just put you on the bike and say “that looks right.” If you’re having issues keeping your elbows bent it might be that you’re too far back in the saddle and supporting too much weight on your palms…do your hands go numb after 10ish miles? It took me a lot of fiddling with my bike before I got it just perfect…for the first 150 miles I would adjust the saddle or the bars pretty much every ride…eventually I found what really worked.
Also when I first started riding I would get pain in my elbows…from keeping them locked…I did this on a 40 mile ride and my elbows hurt for days!
On a precautionary note be sure to exercise your lower back too…once you start hitting the hills your lower back will get a workout…and if it’s not strong enough you’ll get some pain there too…it doesn’t take much to work it out.
Hello! I’m a definite noob at cycling as well. I’ve been having issues with the numb hands, lower back and rear-end despite getting fitted to the back and purchasing a good set of cycling shorts(padded). I’m looking into aerobars. It just seems like they would make it so much more comfortable.
If you ride solo a lot consider aero-bars. Whenever I start to feel any discomfort at all in my hands or joints I just drop into the aero-bars for a couple miles and everything settles down. There also good for getting a better position for grinding into a stiff breeze. They feel odd when you first use them because your weight is shifted further forward over the steering axis and it is highly NOT recommended to use them in traffic (2 or 4 wheeled) but once you are accostumed to them they make a great rest position.