Cycling is a tricky thing for me. As much as I like to do it, I always feel like an amateur. And when it comes to talking about it, I never feel as though I really know what I’m talking about. Typical for me, because I’m a guy, I am loath to ask anyone for advice about cycling: how to fix things, where to ride… heck, even “How do I ride this bike, anyway?” You’d never catch me asking that! I might end up looking foolish! (Because that comes pretty easy…)
Case in point, my hands. My darned hands. They always hurt when I ride. I always come home feeling like I’ve been riding ON my hands. What’s the deal, dammit?
Well, I tried reading up on the issue and discovered my seat might have been placed incorrectly. So, I adjusted my seat. I asked someone I know who rides who said it was my handlebars. So, I adjusted them. I heard you need to bend your arms and I did. I heard you should stretch so I have.
But my hands still hurt like a motherfucker!
Here’s the problem: When you ride, your weight gets distributed in a couple of different ways. It goes down into your seat and legs. It also rests forward on your handlebars and your hands. And this is what has caused me so much pain in the last few years. Basically, I’m a fat fuck who puts all his weight on his hands.
And I was pretty much doomed to that, too, because no advice I came across was helping. Then, a few weeks ago, I tried something that I found revolutionary. I tried using my stomach muscles to support some of my weight. IMAGINE! What happened? The weight moved off of my hands and, as an extra bonus, I found myself peddling better as well!
For the 40 seconds or so that this lasted, I was blown away! I had stumbled upon something amazing: posture! No wonder I hadn’t been able to find an answer. Nobody was going to say, “Well, you could try actually using that fat mid-section of yours.” Nobody.
With every ride, I tried it a bit more. The results were astonishing.
Today, I rode 51 miles up to Yorba Linda and down to Huntington Beach. I made it up to Yorba Linda and down to the beach, holding myself with my core muscles the whole way. I found I was using more than just my stomach muscles, but my laterals and my back and more besides. My hands were hanging in there like troopers. Things were great.
It was getting hot, though. Summer really has hit here in Southern California and I was guzzling water. By the way, you might not know this but a full bladder makes it very difficult to use any of your core muscles. Try it sometime. It just makes you want to pee. Dammit.
I headed back up the SART and was nearly at the 405 when two things happened simultaneously. First, my legs gave out due to the heat and bad planning. (I hadn’t brought something to eat.) Worse still, my core muscles sent a message to my arms that said, “You take this load from here. We’re done.” Right then, my core muscles went slack and all of my weight was put back on my hands.
I was about 12 miles from home and in pretty shitty shape.
Oh, I made it. And I’ll keep working those core muscles. It’s a lesson I wish I’d learned earlier and the more I do it the more stamina they’ll have. And I thought I’d toss this tip out there for anyone who is looking for a solution to the hand problem… or just a minute to laugh at a fat guy…