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valgal
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I ride and race xc (sport class) I'm trying to get in a more optimal race position. I've had a professional bike fit done and was told, if I want a bit better performance to drop a spacer or two from the handlbars. I have a 100mm stem with 6 degree rise. After I dropped out only one spacer, it seems now that my arms are way too straight and putting extra stress on my shoulders and mid back. I don't have that natural, relaxed bend in the elbows anymore. So, my question is, should I just put the spacer back in, or change the length of the stem, or both, or just put it back to the slacker position it originally was and make do since it seemed like it wasn't such a bad position to be in?? Help racer girls, it's driving me nuts.
 

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How much time have you spent riding since you made the change?

I'd ask the person who did your fitting what their intent was. I mean, obviously it was to get you lower, but maybe they were thinking you need to bend forward more at the hips, lower back, something, if your arms were already at the right angle. What in particular led to that recommendation? Because it seems like if you were comfortable before, it's going to take some adjustment to get used to the new positioning. Which may be better in the long run for race efficiency, but would take a while to get used to, I'd think. And it would be best to know what the new and improved body position is supposed to be.
 

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valgal
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I've done one long ride since the change. But that's not the point, my elbows are dead straight now, no relaxed bend in them like before. I realize when you make a change the body has to adapt, but not when the position is incorrect. My point is this, what changes need to be made to get the bend back in my elbows. I know aches and pains will occur when playing with body position and bike fit adjustments, but technically speaking, what needs to happen so I'm in a better race position, WITH a bend in my elbows.
 

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Rides with Scissors
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619 Posts
When I raced, I started out in more of an "optimal race position". Then I had a nasty wreck which messed up my shoulder and back pretty bad, riding in a race position became painful and not getting better even after my body had healed.

I ended up raising my riding position (on both mtb and road bikes) about 1.5" and it did wonders for comfort, didn't affect my mtb racing speed at all... Actually I felt more comfortable riding through technical sections and gained a little speed. :D

I do notice the difference on the road bike though (I don't road race), but I guess increased wind-drag is one price to pay to be able to ride more than 25mi (as far as I could stand) pain-free! :thumbsup:

Soooo... I'd just put it back in "slacker" position if you don't notice any performance benefits in the "race position".
 

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valgal
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42 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Deanna, I can understand what you're saying, but when I watch expert and pro racers, and page through magazines, all the racers that are lower and more stretched out still have a nice flare in the elbows, it's not just a given that the elbows are going to be mummy straight when you drop down or extend out the handlbars, I could live with the new position if I could figure out the proper adjustment to get my arms out of static position. I do agree with you that I feel:D a bit more confident on the downhills and technical with my slacker angle, but exceleration when climbing is what wins the races.
 

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Hi Valgal, I don't race myself so don't have much of an idea about that side of things. I do know that moving your stem down will effectively increase the reach a tad, so if you really want to keep the racey position you could try a slightly shorter stem - maybe a 90mm?
It would be easy to check wether your reach is being affected much by measuring saddle to stem in both positions.

If you have a trainer can you position your body on the bike so that your elbows are bent? I imagine it's probably not as comfortable on the "lady" bits but if you can then it's probably more to do with adjusting to the new position like others have said. But I guess some racers probably compromise comfort for performance anyway??
Another idea is wether you saddle would need any adjustment?

As you can tell I'm just coming up with possibilities, I've tried all sorts of cockpit set ups on my bike to finally settle on a 90mm stem & 1" riser bar.

Here is a handy little thing to play with in regards to stem length...

http://www.zinncycles.com/stemFit.aspx
 

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valgal
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Energetix, thanks for the insight on my issue. I am thinking along the same lines as you are. I have concluded that a 90mm stem could possibly solve my problem. I don't want to touch my saddle adjustments, it's optimal right now. My knee is aligned perfectly over the pedal spindals, the bend in my knee at 25 - 30 degrees, and sit bones in perfect position atop the saddle, I don't want to mess with that. All effective fitting dynamics suggest NOT adjusting your saddle to compensate for stem and/or handlebar changes. I appreciate your time, the Zinn calculator was a bit beyond my engineering fundamentals though, I'll just slap on the 90mm and give it a try. And yes, some racers do sacrafice comfort for performance, but I think I can achieve a happy medium. :D
 

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Let us know how the 90mm stem works out if you decide to give it a go.
I would still ask the place you were fitted what benefits you can expect from the new position to determine weather it's worthwhile changing.
I guess in the end if it doesn't work you just go back to your old set up.
 

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less is more
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Try Some Strength Training

Ok, so I'm a bodybuilder. But, if you increase you upper body strength w/ weight training you may find the new race position agreeable. Finding the right balance will be easier if you develop your deltoids, triceps, pecs & lats,
 
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