Running a training camp in Portugal I get a lot of riders who want to rehabilitate from physical injuries. As we are a small training camp there is an opportunity to focus in a relaxed environment, with no pressure from large groups of riders.
For example: A regular customer, Alun, 56, has been riding a bike for many years, cycled all over Europe, conquered all the classic climbs, at his own pace, but always made it to the top! One of his favourites being Ventoux.
Alun loves a cycle adventure, enjoys meeting fellow riders of all levels and always has a good story to tell. But for the last 4 years Alun has suffered with severe sciatica, and to cap it off neck problems which stems from years of painting and decorating.
After building up through the winter with spin classes, gym work and a lot of physiotherapy, he is back on the bike and planning another trip to France in the summer.
Adapting your bike:
Everyone loves their bikes to look good, that’s a big part of the cycle scene. Sometimes to get yourself back on the bike you have to make adjustments, which may not look so cool, but mean you can ride your bike in comfort. This may mean all the aerodynamics of yourself and the bike go out the window, but in short you can ride you bike.
What can you change?
With Alun, his biggest problem was his neck, which means he can’t be low on the bike.
Handle Bar Stems
Handle bar stems come in all shapes and sizes. You have a reverse option, angle sloping up or down. When the stem is sloping down this makes you lower on the bike, which is normally the standard set-up on your bike. Turn the stem over with the angle sloping up, this brings the bars nearer to you so you don’t have tuck down, you are in a more upright position.
It is also a good option if you’re new to a road bike, so when you’re ready you simply can flip it over to a lower more aero position.
I applied this to the bike Alun was going to use while staying here at Delucci, finding the right angle, right length of the stem, to suit his position. This all helped towards making Alun’s neck more comfortable.
Another problem was storing items in his back pocket, such as clothing and food, as he could not reach to his back pockets.
So Alun had resolved this problem by bringing a frame bag, may not look pretty, but he can get to the bag, on the move without stretching.
We have compact gearing on our hire bikes, perfect for the mountains and good all round, which consists of a 34-50 front chain ring with 12-27 cassette.
So Alun could spin as much as possible on the climbs we managed to up the gears to a 28 cassette, which in turn was less strain on his neck, so as not to push too big a gear.
The rides also were tailored to Alun’s needs, which are to get fitter without incurring any more injuries. So they were all nice rolling roads, with a few climbs, but no more than 10%.
We discussed every morning over breakfast how Alun was feeling and then planned the day’s ride. Alun rode for 5 days with 1 rest day.
Leaving tired, but not injured! For Alun this trip was a make or break training week to find out if he was ready to ride his bike again, would his body take it and, more importantly, could he take on another cycle adventure with his friends? The answer is yes! This week has opened doors again for Alun in the world of cycling, his confidence has grown, he knows it’s all possible, with a few alterations and to respect his physical condition. Also making other people around him aware of his condition can make all the difference, this can prevent him from lifting when people around him can help.
Alun has booked himself on a cycle adventure in France this summer. 3 days taking on his favourite climb, Ventoux, via Sault, then on to Malaucene and Bedoin over a 3 day period with a fellow cyclist.
So, with a bit of advice, riding the right bike with right set up and understanding what your body can and can’t do, you can get back on your bike!
The views shared are that of the author and are not necessarily that of Lexham Insurance Consultants Ltd.