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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:17 am 
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First, a short story. Last year I went to physical therapy for some running injuries. The end result was the realization that I have very tight hamstrings and weak hips. I was less motivated than I should have been and didn't work on it very much. At the start of the 2013 season I set my bike up to be plenty comfortable for 3+ hour training rides. No back or neck pain but my stem was at a positive rise with 5 5mm spacers and a 15mm cone space underneath it :oops: . This gave me about 3cm of saddle to bar drop. My back was rounded and my neck couldn't lift my head much further then was necessary to see down a flat road. I couldn't spend more than five minutes in the drops comfortably.

Since then I've spent at least an hour every day working on stretching and core/back strengthening. When I ride I consciously think about flattening my back and engaging my core. I can now reach about 2 inches closer to my toes now. My back has started to flatten out and I can ride in the drops for much longer. Probably 15 or 20 minutes. I didn't see a noticeable drop in power when riding in the drop or with my hand on the hoods and my elbows bent more than normal. So today I dropped my stem down a 5mm spacer and found the position to still be comfortable. For some reason I didn't feel like stretching the position out would be as comfortable but I didn't test that since I just have one stem. So the question is, can I expect to keep lowering my handlebars every couple weeks like this if I keep conditioning? It seems to be working but I'm curious if you all think I'll plateau before I can slam my stem. How trainable is handlebar drop and reach?

I apologize if this has already been covered but I couldn't find anything like this using search. If there's any information you think I've left out, please ask.

Thanks for all your help.


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Posted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:17 am 


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:48 am 
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Formerly known as wassertreter

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Location: Pedal Square
It's hard to predict what will happen, or how far you'll be able to get the drop, but the combination of stretching, back exercise, and successive taking out of spacers is the way to go. Anyway, make sure you've got the correct saddle setback right first. I've found this helpful: http://www.stevehoggbikefitting.com/blo ... oad-bikes/

Don't obsess over having a flat or curved back though. Try to keep your upper body relaxed, regardless of riding in the drops or not. If you can't ride reasonably relaxed in the drops, then you're not fit for the position (yet). As Steve Hogg says, you should be able to ride the last 30mins of a 4h ride in the drops.

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Last edited by HillRPete on Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 11:53 am 
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What flexibility work are you doing and what core/back (tautology right there...) strengthening are you doing?

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"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 3:12 pm 
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I have been following the Steve Hogg fitting method. So far I've dropped my seat ~5mm and pushed it back ~7mm. Now that I've tried it I feel much more stable even though I didn't feel unstable before. The tricky part with his method is that as fitness, flexibility, and bar position changes, the saddle setback changes as well (correct me if I'm wrong). My hands do carry only a small amount of weight when I'm in the drops. I can relax my upper body but it takes conscious thought. I'll notice after being distracted by hills or harder efforts that my upper back and shoulders are tense. I think I just need to ride more while thinking about relaxing so I can get used to it.

For stretching I do static stretches (only after I ride) each stretch I do a few times for at least 30 seconds. I work on all the muscles in my legs and hips that I know stretches for but usually concentrate on the tightest, hamstrings and piriformis (I'm not 100% sure that's what it's called but basically hips). For those I've found just sitting on the ground, putting one leg out, and trying to reach it. Since I can't touch my toes I put a band around my foot then hold it in my hand. Thats just how the physical therapist showed me. No other reason. For piriformis muscle I've found the pigeon pose works the best.

For core I've been following the progression detailed here: http://www.coach-hughes.com/resources/c ... ngth1.html
I've tried a few different things but this seems to target the muscles that feel the weakest on the bike. It's easy enough for me to not get sore but hard enough to feel improvement. I also add a couple planks depending on how I feel, a handful of push-ups, some single arm rows, and Romanian dead lifts. The reason for these is that it seems to help my neck hold my head up, not just my core hold my torso up.

I'm very open to changing this. What would you reccomend?

Thanks


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2013 5:44 pm 
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What i did was slammed the stem and took on the pain. But honestly to get lower stretching the hamstrings and working of the core is the way to go. Do 3-5 reps of compounds movement in the gym. Or just take out one spacer and ride until comfy and repeat until desired drop is reached.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 1:28 am 
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I did the spacer removal method. I started with a full stack of spacers. Removed them one by one until my stem was all the way down. Took about a year of riding.

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:52 am 
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If you have actual weakness - that is you lack basic physical strength - then get strong. The best way to do this is to move heavy things. Proper squats and deadlifts will remedy this.

If actual strength is not the issue and it is only flexibility then:-
1) weights could also help in this regards (strengthen what you stretch, stretch what you strengthen).
2) google various stretching techniques and how and when they should be used. Static, dynamic, PNF etc.
3) rollering/massage etc may help greatly.
4) The above-mentioned method of incrementally lowering the stem etc may also work.
5) The "slam and adjust" may also work. I've done it. Sometime with good results, other times... not so much.

But this broaching on "fit" and "fit" is a highly individual and being low, for you, may or may not be a good thing. Point 1-3 will stand for flexibility regardless.

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"Physiology is all just propaganda and lies... all waiting to be disproven by the next study."
"I'm not a real doctor; But I am a real worm; I am an actual worm." - TMBG


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:20 am 
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@Getter Did you do anything besides ride?

@Tape All I've ever really done so far as lifting has been leg presses and the occasional romanian deadlift. I've never been taught how to properly squat or deadlift but I know a few guys that can probably show me. I've always been taught with running to do dynamic stretching before and static after. I've never heard of PNF but from what little I've now read it seems to be effective. I'll try it out. I forgot to mention earlier that I've been using a foam roller. It helps but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to do it before or after I stretch. I know I might not be able to get much lower on the bike. That's fine. At least this way I'll know it's not because I didn't try.

Today at the end of my ride I flipped my stem and slammed it just to see what it felt like. Then I rode another half hour. I was pleasantly surprised. My pelvis naturally seemed to rotate forward and my back was a bit flatter. I could feel my core engage more while my neck seemed to relax a bit. I definitely had more weight on my hands and my triceps felt that. Perhaps I can adjust my seat again per the Steve Hogg method. Riding in the drops was not sustainable as it put too much weight on the front of the saddle and my soft tissue. I'll try the position for a full ride tomorrow and see what happens. I'm cautiously optimistic that I might be able to just slam it then adjust.

Thanks for the help everybody.


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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:54 am 
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A bit of a tanget, but you mention sitting -- I've found as I've been lowering my position, that a saddle with curved-up rear (Selle San Marco Aspide in my case) suits me better than a totally flat one.

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 2:19 pm 
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I'm riding a specialized romin saddle right now. I love the shape but the nose feels a little wide and too hard. I might try lowering the angle a bit. If that fails I'll try the romin evo or another curved saddle


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PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 9:56 am 
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Check out this thread. I started it since i needed to go lower but seems like it turned into a hip rotaing frenzy! Tons of info. viewtopic.php?f=3&t=109720


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 3:46 am 
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Update:

I've been working at lowering my position, and improving flexibility and core strength for about a month now. By now I've figured out my saddle position and feel comfortable with where my handlebars are. They're ~4cm lower and ~1cm farther out than when I started. I found that once I had improved my core strength and flexibility (still working on it though, so close to touching my toes) I could flip and lower my stem without too many problems. I was comfortable as long as I consciously thought about rotating my hips, flattening my back, and relaxing my upper body. The problem was once I started riding hard I stopped doing those things. I found that the key to making it all work was a comfortable seat position and training myself to breath from my belly as mentioned in the thread linked above. Once this happened everything seemed to click.

When I get in the drops I feel like my knees are pushing my chest. At first I thought this meant I'd hit the limit of how low I can go (and that may yet be true) but slowly that feeling has started to go away. I'll keep working at it and see what happens.

All this work has probably made me marginally more aero, my bike look a bit less dorky, and riding way more comfortable.

Thanks for everyone's help.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 07, 2013 11:58 pm 
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Location: Simi Valley CA
I just rode.

At the time I started cycling, I was going to the gym 3 days a week and biked twice a week. Then I gradually reduced the days I went to the gym and eventually stopped going to the gym. I increased the days I biked from 2 to 4.

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eurperg wrote:
My wife is sitting next to me, and just thought that was a dildo, not a saddle.. :lol:


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:44 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 22, 2011 9:39 pm
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eordman wrote:
Update:

I've been working at lowering my position, and improving flexibility and core strength for about a month now. By now I've figured out my saddle position and feel comfortable with where my handlebars are. They're ~4cm lower and ~1cm farther out than when I started. I found that once I had improved my core strength and flexibility (still working on it though, so close to touching my toes) I could flip and lower my stem without too many problems. I was comfortable as long as I consciously thought about rotating my hips, flattening my back, and relaxing my upper body. The problem was once I started riding hard I stopped doing those things. I found that the key to making it all work was a comfortable seat position and training myself to breath from my belly as mentioned in the thread linked above. Once this happened everything seemed to click.

When I get in the drops I feel like my knees are pushing my chest. At first I thought this meant I'd hit the limit of how low I can go (and that may yet be true) but slowly that feeling has started to go away. I'll keep working at it and see what happens.

All this work has probably made me marginally more aero, my bike look a bit less dorky, and riding way more comfortable.

Thanks for everyone's help.



Keep going! there is obviously a maximal figure to the drop which should not be defined by the frame you ride, either too much or too small. Realistically a 5-10cm range is the most common. Your hip flexors will open up with continued riding and give more power back. In addition to all the stretching and core work, you need to establish a good saddle position, as this is essential for maintaining a rotated pelvis position for drops riding. The right saddle for your body is a key element here, but this can be very time consuming process. Personally I've found good results with cutout saddles and especially Selle SMP saddles. My drop is 13cm on the roadie, but this is in part to maintain flexibility for the TT bike which is my specialty.
Maintaining a proper stretching and core stability routine should be a key part of a riders training to prevent injury and improve comfort. RE: foam rollers, I find that warming up the muscles by 10 mins of gentle riding/turboing, stretching, foam rollering and then stretching again is the best way for me.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:18 am 
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I think my drop is about 8cm right now. I feel comfortable as it is now. I'd like to experiment with getting lower and stretching out a bit more. I just need to get either a shorter cone spacer for my CAAD10 like the slamyourstem thing. Or get a more angled stem.

I'm using a specialized romin evo saddle and have been very happy with it. Feels very solid now that I've added some more setback.

Stretching and core stability just makes me feel all around better. Planks rock my world.


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Posted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:18 am 


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