Written by 2:26 pm Hints and tips

Comfort is key

‘Don’t let things get to sore’

Its not just the saddle sores that can get you!

I’m sure we have all experienced a sore rear. Maybe it was from the wrong saddle, or getting back on the bike after an injury and not being used to it. Either way no one wants to experience that again. Getting comfy prior to a big ride is invaluable. If you don’t generally feel comfortable on your bike from the start, I would highly recommend getting a professional bike fit to get you on the right path. Once you are happy with your general position on the bike, it’s time to start looking at making it as comfy as possible for multiple hours on the road.

I start with fitting a set of clip on aero bars for long distances. Personally I like the Profile design aero bars. They are easy to fit and have lots of adjustment. The two main reasons I do this are. Most obvious is the aero advantage it can create. Getting lower on the bike and more stream lined has a huge impact on overall speed, try and find as many easy miles as you can. The other reason is purely for comfort. They allow you to take weight off your arms and wrists and will also change your position on the bike. I find moving around on the bike really helps with any saddle soreness that might set in. Don’t let things get too sore down there, once it does you cant turn back.  I like to use a set of 50mm riser blocks to lift the aero bars up. This isn’t the most aerodynamic position, because I’m not as low as I could be. But it is much more manageable for long periods and that in turn makes it easier on the hips and back. It’s important to practice with aero bars not only to get them set up so you are comfortable but also for safety. The handling and steering is different when you are down on the bars and it’s also worth remembering you have no brakes at your finger tips. 

Next I add a second layer of bar tape. The extra cushioning and wider grip around the handle bars creates less pressure on the palms of your hands. Fingerless gloves are also a must. 
Over a certain distance I find my neck starts to ache. Since I suffered with Shermer’s neck during a big ride I am always conscious of it happening again. For anyone that hasn’t heard of it and I hadn’t until after it happened. Simply put, Shermer’s Neck is a condition where the neck muscles fail from fatigue and can no longer support the head. It is not gradual either; after feeling the first symptoms, the neck will usually stop functioning within two hours. I still had a couple of hundred miles to go as well so it was a scary situation. I ended up finishing the ride with my head propped up on my hand with my elbow on the aero pad! I wouldn’t recommend it. To try and over come this I regularly do a few neck exercises on and off the bike and generally stretch the neck muscles as much as I can when riding. 

Fiery feet! Hot spots on the soles of your feet can also cause pain along the way. Make sure your cycling shoes are well worn in prior to the start. Some like to use a mountain bike type shoe for ultra cycling. This gives an advantage when your off the bike as they are comfy to walk in and they have much more give than a normal road shoe with the SPD cleats. My personal choice is to use some well worn road shoes with a new set of cleats on. I also loosen the pedals so I have plenty of free play and float in the cleat. This reduces knee pain as you can tweak your foot position easily. My straps on the shoes are also left reasonably loose to allow for extra swelling of the foot! 

Bib shorts vary between manufacturers. Find a pad that works for you and apply plenty of chamois cream. Re applying as often as necessary will help prevent any saddle sores. I carry a tub on multi day events just to be sure!

I’m sure I have missed a few things that can be looked at but this is a good list to get ticked off first.

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