Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Proof of concept

Now that my physical therapy is making such improvements in my form and function, I am back to rearranging the bike in earnest.

I got the idea of using a bullhorn bar after seeing Judi Soule's bike on the tour.  This is her setup.

Turns out that my components won't fit on this diameter bar, and no matter how many places I searched and how persistent I was, I couldn't find a handlebar the right diameter.  Enter consultation with machinists and my husband was able to grind out the center diameter of my components to fit the new handlebar.  This is the current setup - just put in place to figure out if this riding position was really going to be better for me.  

This puts my hands at no more than shoulder width apart, gives me a neutral wrist position, and doesn't put stress on my elbows or shoulders.  I haven't been able to ride very far this way because of weather, but it feels very natural and comfortable.  Because of the shape of the shifters I can't get the components in the very best positions - we'll solve that problem by using bar-end shifters mounted on Paul Thumbies.  That combination should give me almost unlimited possiblities for shifter and brake positions.  It will also be a lot cheaper and easier than starting over with a new bike.

Pictures of the final configuration as soon as the parts come in.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Fun on a Bike

Last night was the second installment of Fun on a Bike.  This time three people showed up, along with my friend Sally, who is piling up the miles since starting to ride a bike in April.

We started with "do you know how much air your tires need?" and "do you know how to get air into the tire?" and went on from there.  There were two "mature" women and one younger guy on a 22" fixie.  I am hoping that the group will grow and that everyone will be able to find someone to ride with.

Because it was a small group, I was able to address many of their concerns - "what kind of bike", "what makes one bike different from another",  "how do I stop without falling over?"  It was fun for all of us and we will meet again in the same place next week for further exciting adventures.

Note to self - "you have a camera on your phone ---- USE it."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Progress is slow, but it IS progress

While I was on the tour, I had some problems with my hands going numb.  My friend, Carla the Wonderful, was able to help me make some position/posture changes that helped with that, but when I got back home, my fingertips were still numb.  All of the fingers and only the fingertips, left hand more than right.

My primary care doctor ruled out medication side effects and Vit B deficiencies and referred me to a sports medicine doctor who ruled out carpal tunnel, elbow problems and thoracic outlet syndrome.  He referred me to physical therapy and I have been seen there twice a week for about three weeks now.

So I was right.  The problem is in my neck/shoulder and is probably a result of the head-on collision I was in some 20+ years ago.  And now, what to do about it.  As therapy progressed, a lot of the tight muscles stretched and lengthened, but when they did, it put me back to where I was after the accident - my neck felt very fragile and my head seemed very heavy.  I felt like I had to balance my head on top of my neck or it would just fall off.  That was the feeling I had all those years ago and it made me feel insecure.  

My physical therapy assistant, a very nice young man fresh out of school, hit the nail on the head.  He said "You traded flexibility and function for stability" - give the man a gold star!  That is exactly what I did.  I worked very hard at keeping my neck and shoulder positioned in such a way that I didn't get the nerves all riled up and develop a migraine.  The headaches were debilitating and I did everything I could to avoid them, because at the time there wasn't much available to treat them.

So we've gone from about a 50/50 split between stretching/relaxing the tight muscles and developing their antagonists to more of a 25/75 split.  It seems to be working very well.  As my muscles develop and my posture/position improve, I feel less insecure and the stretching/relaxing goes better too.  Annnnnnnnd, this week I am starting to get sensation back in my fingertips.  Big sigh of relief.

I am trying to make some changes to my bike too, but that isn't going quite as well - stay tuned for further developments.  But there WILL be more bike tours in my future, count on it.

Gratuitous wildflower pictures from my Sunday morning ride.