Notices
Long Distance Competition/Ultracycling, Randonneuring and Endurance Cycling Do you enjoy centuries, double centuries, brevets, randonnees, and 24-hour time trials? Share ride reports, and exchange training, equipment, and nutrition information specific to long distance cycling. This isn't for tours, this is for endurance events cycling

Recumbent veteran to upright newbie

Old 04-04-21, 08:54 AM
  #1  
downtube42
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
downtube42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,653

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter, Volae Team, Priority Eight, Nimbus MUni, Trek Roscoe 6.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 394 Post(s)
Liked 713 Times in 374 Posts
Recumbent veteran to upright newbie

After 10 years, ~35,000km of randonneuring on a recumbent, with multiple 1200s, I'm giving it a go on an upright bike, with the goal of completing PBP in 2023. It's a work in progress, to be sure. I've said it a few times about my upright rando friends: they finish a brevet tired and sore, while I finish it tired. My turn to address the soreness issues. Thus far I've completed about a half-dozen 200k rides, with a few issues to resolve. Low back pain, hand numbness, and saddle discomfort.

I've been finishing these 200ks with quite a bit of low back pain. The last couple hours are pretty much dominated by back discomfort. A moment off the bike, stretching, helps for a short time. I've not had success stretching while on the bike. Back in my 30's, when I switched to a recumbent, low back pain was the issue. At 60 my back is far better than in those days, but this is definitely issue #1. It must be resolved if I'm going to do anything longer than a 400k.

A distant second is hand numbness and pain, particularly my left hand. It comes on as early as 30 miles in; I rest my left hand behind my back for a moment for relief. I've measured carefully, and the bars are straight. Everything is even on the bike, as closely as I can tell. Maybe my body isn't left/right symmetric. I might try offsetting the bars by a few mm and see what that does.

Saddles. Jeez, this isn't my favorite part of an upright bike. My Selle Anatomica seems like the most comfortable saddle I've every used, and a moment out of the saddle from time to time takes the edge off. I don't think there's anything to do here except saddle time and see what a fitter says.

May 1st is a 300k.
downtube42 is offline  
Old 04-05-21, 08:17 AM
  #2  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,148
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 1,043 Times in 762 Posts
I admire your switch, I hope you can work things out. It took me a lot of fiddling to get to the point where any problems I have with discomfort are related to fitness rather than position.

I used to have low back pain and riding got rid of it. I don't think that 'bents use your low back as much. Eddy B (rip) used to insist that sit ups help lower back pain. I think this is one reason cyclists do squats.

I have gotten rid of hand pain for the most part through small changes in my position. A little longer stem and seat back a little.

I have never been sore at the end of a 1200k. Other distances, yes. I sometimes have trouble with neck soreness, but I am able to do shoulder rolls on the bike and that helps a lot.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 04-05-21, 09:53 AM
  #3  
rando_couche
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Posts: 1,238
Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 183 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 53 Posts
I'm in the midst of the same transition ('bent to DF), hoping to get back into rando and maybe even ride the next PBP. But if not for having to stop and pee every 10 miles riding the 'bent (I can do 30-40 mi nonstop on the DF, no prob), I'd probably still be on the 'bent.
rando_couche is offline  
Old 04-05-21, 02:23 PM
  #4  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Ghostrider reached down into the unterworld, Rip said iliopsoas muscle pains in lower back on long rides can indicate weak stomach muscles or sometimes too high of a seat post can tweak the hip flexors. He said he would try to remember another cause, he had been so long on a bent on the other side, his memory is impaired. He congratulated downtube42 escaping the darkside and entering back into the light.GL!!
GhostRider62 is offline  
Old 04-06-21, 10:23 AM
  #5  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Unknown what model recumbent but in general, it harder to engage the hip flexors on a bent than it is on an upright. In my experience, my hip flexors have weakened from bent riding while my vastus lateralis had to develop on the bent. I took up hiking and preparing for the Appalachian Trail, I was very surprised to have soreness in my hip flexors but that has been fixed.

The hip flexors fatigue much quicker than the much larger extension muscles (butt, vastus lateralis, etc). Many cyclists still think pulling back and up is helpful but this has been proven in many studies to be false. On long rides, working these relatively small muscles often manifests in sore lower back (that is where these muscles attach). Another possibility albeit unlikely is an extreme difference in Q factor between your bent and upright. I suppose going from one platform to the other is almost like starting anew WRT to training and it is easy to overextend oneself. Once I went midsole and elliptical chainrings, I just pushed and never pulled. No leg cramps, no foot pain, and no back pain. These types of aches and pains only show up on long rides, so, I am sure everyone here has experience them at one time or another. YMMV. GL.

"The primary hip flexors, psoas and iliopsoas, originate on the transverse process and body of the T12 – L5 vertebrae. Essentially the pull on your lower back. If you are using the muscles extensively they can start to fatigue your lower back and lead to a lordotic curve in your lumbar spine. This is often a cause of lower back pain in cyclist and triathletes.

"
""Problems Associated with Pulling Up on the Upstroke""

"""Over-use of the hip-flexors when the hip joint is closed can cause all sorts of issues:

Lower-back pain

• Tightness and pain in the hip

• Loss of power and efficiency"""""

(I cannot post the links but those quotes come from reasonable sources, sorry)
GhostRider62 is offline  
Old 04-06-21, 07:06 PM
  #6  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,148
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 1,043 Times in 762 Posts
Your lower back muscles are involved in pushing too, I don't think most of us pull up much.

There are some muscles that I manage to recruit somehow while climbing. More pushing before the pedal reaches the top than pulling at the bottom. It really feels great until I cramp. I am not a good climber on my best day.

Last edited by unterhausen; 04-07-21 at 10:05 AM.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 04-07-21, 11:44 AM
  #7  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I was thinking of Downtube42 coming from recumbents, where scraping and pulling back are often recommended pedaling techniques. I did not mean to be pedantic, merely completing the original post when I could not remember another cause albeit more common with less experienced riders new to distance cycling.

Steve Hogg had had a video on this very subject of lower back pain but I think it is now behind a paywall or I can no longer find it. Pushing before the top of the stoke can be efficient if you either ankle or sort of rotate (not rock) the hip backwards (posteriorly) and slightly tilt the bike. Getting over the top is important, of course. On most recumbents (depends on seat type and angle), your torso is generally locked and the muscle engagement is a bit different than riding an upright. Hogg's video had the upright rider without a jersey with black magic marker dots to see the overall movement of incorrect and correct pedal technique. It appeared to me that the hip moves back slightly just before coming over the top. I theorize that the inability to make that little move is one reason recumbent riders often go to much shorter cranks, 140-155mm or shorter. It isn't just the hip opening up, it affects the knee angle too. I stuck with long cranks, but "cheat" on the first 10 degrees (Rotor RS4X). I wish OP best in going back, I suspect it won't be easy trading bent legs for upright legs.

I found brevets and grand randonnees easier overall on an upright but there isn't an easy way to make a direct comparison.
GhostRider62 is offline  
Likes For GhostRider62:
Old 04-07-21, 04:04 PM
  #8  
unterhausen
Randomhead
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Happy Valley, Pennsylvania
Posts: 21,148
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 4 Post(s)
Liked 1,043 Times in 762 Posts
I wish I could figure out a way to train those muscles, because it really feels great until I cramp. Which has never failed to happen. Problem is I'm not really sure what I'm doing.
unterhausen is offline  
Old 04-07-21, 07:26 PM
  #9  
downtube42
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
downtube42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,653

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter, Volae Team, Priority Eight, Nimbus MUni, Trek Roscoe 6.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 394 Post(s)
Liked 713 Times in 374 Posts
I'm just going to admit this: When it comes to descriptions of body mechanics, like hip flexors or pelvic rotation or open hips, I have no concept. Somebody says with great authority well your hip abductors are doing this... wtf. Sure I can find an anatomy book, but I don't feel anything going on there, and in general I have no awareness of any specific muscle unless it hurts.

Are my hips wide open like a barn door or closed like a mousetrap? I have no idea. Here's what I do know about my hips: they don't hurt. After a 1500k they didn't hurt.
Is my pelvis rotated so far back it's pointing at the sky, or down waving hello to China? No idea. Also, no pelvic pain, ever.
Do I pedal in squares or circles? I'm just pedaling. Sometimes I get hotfoot, but aside from that generally no pain below the waist no matter the distance. Am I efficient? Probably not.

I occasionally get cramps, in quads or calves or or toes or inside thighs - the latter when climbing. I mostly tell them to shut the f up because they will get no sympathy from me, then perhaps slow down a bit, and carry on. For lower back pain I'll stop and stretch my back, which helps for a bit. I have learned that ignoring low back pain has very negative consequences within 24-48 hours of the event.

Point being, my primary muscular feedback and awareness is from pain.
downtube42 is offline  
Old 04-08-21, 07:03 AM
  #10  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by unterhausen View Post
I wish I could figure out a way to train those muscles, because it really feels great until I cramp. Which has never failed to happen. Problem is I'm not really sure what I'm doing.

Wish I could help. My better half has this problem. I only had cramps twice IIRC on an upright. Once was the day after doing 211 miles and 26,000+ feet of climbing in Ky/Va with scores of sprints escaping viscous dogs. The next day, it was like, "So, this is what everyone talks about with calf cramps" Another fellow shared some packets of mustard or relish (I forget which) and it did help a little. There are a lot of theories out there. I dunno.


I recently got painful cramps in my feet after switching from a 10mm drop hiking shoe to a 4 mm drop. Very painful. I did a lot of reading but the research is scant but lots of anecdotes. I decided to switch back and forth to slow the conditioning process and after a month, my feet can handle the new shoes.
GhostRider62 is offline  
Old 04-08-21, 07:10 AM
  #11  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
I'm just going to admit this: When it comes to descriptions of body mechanics, like hip flexors or pelvic rotation or open hips, I have no concept. Somebody says with great authority well your hip abductors are doing this... wtf. Sure I can find an anatomy book, but I don't feel anything going on there, and in general I have no awareness of any specific muscle unless it hurts.

Are my hips wide open like a barn door or closed like a mousetrap? I have no idea. Here's what I do know about my hips: they don't hurt. After a 1500k they didn't hurt.
Is my pelvis rotated so far back it's pointing at the sky, or down waving hello to China? No idea. Also, no pelvic pain, ever.
Do I pedal in squares or circles? I'm just pedaling. Sometimes I get hotfoot, but aside from that generally no pain below the waist no matter the distance. Am I efficient? Probably not.

I occasionally get cramps, in quads or calves or or toes or inside thighs - the latter when climbing. I mostly tell them to shut the f up because they will get no sympathy from me, then perhaps slow down a bit, and carry on. For lower back pain I'll stop and stretch my back, which helps for a bit. I have learned that ignoring low back pain has very negative consequences within 24-48 hours of the event.

Point being, my primary muscular feedback and awareness is from pain.
Too funny, so true. If you disassociate the pain and command your limbs, they do shut up. There is some fancy feedback in the nervous system that Unterhausen could appreciate but the fact is, some/most pain can be ignored but some should not; otherwise, you will suffer more in the ensuing weeks. Maybe or at least hopefully, your back pains will ease up with more saddle time. IMO, knowledge about solving saddle sore issues is very high on this forum. Sorry, I could not help. That stretching does help you, it sounds like those affected muscles just need more training time and optimistically, you just have to patient while telling to shut the F up.
GhostRider62 is offline  
Old 04-08-21, 05:30 PM
  #12  
tacreamer
Go Ride
 
tacreamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 143

Bikes: Enough +1

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 15 Posts
Why give up the recumbent? I choose to use to use an upright or a recumbent on appropriate courses.


Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
After 10 years, ~35,000km of randonneuring on a recumbent, with multiple 1200s, I'm giving it a go on an upright bike, with the goal of completing PBP in 2023. It's a work in progress, to be sure. I've said it a few times about my upright rando friends: they finish a brevet tired and sore, while I finish it tired. My turn to address the soreness issues. Thus far I've completed about a half-dozen 200k rides, with a few issues to resolve. Low back pain, hand numbness, and saddle discomfort.

I've been finishing these 200ks with quite a bit of low back pain. The last couple hours are pretty much dominated by back discomfort. A moment off the bike, stretching, helps for a short time. I've not had success stretching while on the bike. Back in my 30's, when I switched to a recumbent, low back pain was the issue. At 60 my back is far better than in those days, but this is definitely issue #1. It must be resolved if I'm going to do anything longer than a 400k.

A distant second is hand numbness and pain, particularly my left hand. It comes on as early as 30 miles in; I rest my left hand behind my back for a moment for relief. I've measured carefully, and the bars are straight. Everything is even on the bike, as closely as I can tell. Maybe my body isn't left/right symmetric. I might try offsetting the bars by a few mm and see what that does.

Saddles. Jeez, this isn't my favorite part of an upright bike. My Selle Anatomica seems like the most comfortable saddle I've every used, and a moment out of the saddle from time to time takes the edge off. I don't think there's anything to do here except saddle time and see what a fitter says.

May 1st is a 300k.
tacreamer is offline  
Old 04-08-21, 09:10 PM
  #13  
downtube42
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
downtube42's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 2,653

Bikes: Soma Fog Cutter, Volae Team, Priority Eight, Nimbus MUni, Trek Roscoe 6.

Mentioned: 7 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 394 Post(s)
Liked 713 Times in 374 Posts
Originally Posted by tacreamer View Post
Why give up the recumbent? I choose to use to use an upright or a recumbent on appropriate courses.
Not so much giving up the recumbent, as pursuing a new challenge. The 'bent is still hanging there, waiting its turn.
downtube42 is offline  
Old 04-08-21, 09:31 PM
  #14  
tacreamer
Go Ride
 
tacreamer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Ohio
Posts: 143

Bikes: Enough +1

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 30 Post(s)
Liked 65 Times in 15 Posts
Choose wisely.
Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Not so much giving up the recumbent, as pursuing a new challenge. The 'bent is still hanging there, waiting its turn.
tacreamer is offline  
Old 04-09-21, 09:59 AM
  #15  
GhostRider62
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2021
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by downtube42 View Post
Not so much giving up the recumbent, as pursuing a new challenge. The 'bent is still hanging there, waiting its turn.
You are fortunate, I wish I had that choice.

I probably need to have John Morciglio custom build me a fast recumbent that can handle something wider than 25 mm.

I did have an Alpha 7 for about 2 weeks, it could handle wide tires.
GhostRider62 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.