Monthly Archives: February 2011

Keep those shoulders back/good posture on a bike (or “Things I learned in Fit School”)

So after spending a lot of quality time with people who make their living exclusively fitting people to bicycles, I did take awy something that helped me on yesterday’s ride. Keep those shoulders wide! Seriously, make an effort to “square up” those shoulders. Do not allow your arms to pull them forward. You’d be surprised how much better you’ll breathe, and feel overall, if you don’t let them roll forward. Who knew. Well, probably everyone else in the world but me. I’ve always seen rolled-forward shoulders as a reason to bring the bars in closer, but for comfort reasons. I never thought about how much better you can breathe if you’re not essentially squeezing your lungs.

It’s something you’ll need to work on a bit; there’s a natural tendency to let them move forward, kind of like slumping in a chair. Why fight it? Why spend the effort to bring them back? Aren’t you supposed to “relax” on the bike? Well, yes! You should be relaxed. But the truth is, you can easily make those slight modifications to your posture without feeling like you’re contorting yourself or spending any effort at all doing so.

Truth be told, most reading this probably have a longer stem, or perhaps lower, than is ideal. We get this idea in our minds that racers look a certain way, so that’s the way we’re supposed to look. But if you study racers, you’ll find they don’t all look the same; they’re all over the map. Short stems, long stems, tall stems, low stems. And wherever they are, they do not look stretched out. They might look long but they don’t look stretched. Their shoulders are squared up, so they can breathe. So many of us want that “long” look, but can’t manage it because we’re just not built for it.

There will be some of us who, frankly, are going to look like we’re “perched” atop our bikes when properly fit. My son, Kevin, fits into that camp, because, while flexible (or at least far more flexible than I am, but then again, that describes most people on the planet), his legs are proportionately much longer than his arms & torso. Me? I ride in a position that’s at least questionable, given my lack of flexibility. And yet it’s comfortable. Film at 11 after I work it all out.

Last Sunday’s ride repeat (but thankfully, no rinse or wash)

Today my son and I did the exact same ride Brian, Andrew & I rode last week- up Old LaHonda, down 84 to San Gregorio, Stage Road to Pescadero, over Haskins Grade & up West Alpine. And, just like last week, it got pretty cold up on Skyline!

We got off to a pretty late start, since Kevin had left his bike at the shop so the first order of the day was to head down to pick it up, along with Starbucks for all. By the time we got out the door it was almost noon, and given the length of the ride, I figured it would be a good idea to bring not only flashing tail lights but headlights as well, and we came close to needing them. Kevin did fine until we got to Haskins, at which point he started running out of steam. Probably had something to do with the 4 or 5 LaCrosse games he played in a tournament the day before!

Beautiful clouds & shadows as Kevin climbs West Alpine towards Skyline.
Cold? I got to remind Kevin several times that he thought he wouldn’t need a base layer today! By the time we got to Skyline, it was down to 41 degrees with a bit of dampness in the air, and it wasn’t too long after that that Kevin asked if I’d consider calling for a lift. Um… besides the fact that that’s not how I roll, there was also the issue that we had to keep moving and get down off that hill, and once off Skyline, what would the point be to getting a ride the last few miles home? Actually, there was a simpler solution anyway. Put on the jacket that was in his seat bag. Duh.

Just another nice winter day to ride in Northern California. That’s where the “no rinse or wash” line comes from. Dry roads, nice skies with a few clouds here & there to make it interesting.