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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well someone may say "talk to a doctor", but I doubt he rides so I'm hoping other riders can tell me what I should do. I'm having two "health" issues due to riding. I'm a middle aged clydesdale trying to get into shape if that helps.

First, the hands. My right arm, the forearm, is somewhat numb after a long ride. I've noticed my strength in my right hand is pretty weak lately, can't open a stuck jar, etc. with it. I'm normally a fairly stout guy. I don't know what kind of grips I have, they came on my 2017 Trek, they have this "pad" that is supposed to help. It doesn't. I bought some $20 padded gloves on Amazon and no help either. I'm guessing this is a nerve deal, something with putting weight on my hand. I don't know if it's a posture (new riser, handlebars, etc?), grip (any suggestions?) or glove problem but I'm concerned as have had a hard time doing things. I've been riding for about 1.5 months now.

Second is the junk. I hope I'm not crossing a line and I certainly wont get graphic but that's the best way to describe what's happening. At first I was doing 30 minute rides and after two weeks the soreness in the bum wore off and I could ride my 30-minute ride fine. Now I'm upping to 1-2 hr rides and I notice around the 30-45 minute mark I have an "issue". You know when your lay on your arm and it falls asleep, then when you rearrange things it gets blood flow but hurts? Well, when I'm siting on the seat things are okay, but when I come up to a bump or something in the road where I lift my bum off the seat to avoid a pounding my junk has that same tingly. I have the stock bontarager seat on my trek and am guessing I need a new seat, but not sure if there's an adjustment (tilting forward/backwards?). The bones in my bum seem to be okay with the seat but the middle section gets painful.

Sorry to throw my health issues out here, of course I could talk to my doctor but all of this is riding related and I'd guess you guys have more experience with this stuff than he does. I'd venture to say I'm not the only one to have this stuff happen and someone may have a clue. And if the "junk" question you aren't comfortable talking about, a PM of your solution will be appreciated too. I want to get myself back in shape, not pick up some new ailments.

- JB
 

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Tilt the saddle forward to create space and or get a saddle that addresses the issue like a phenom or an sqlab

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Cycologist
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Maybe you're keeping a death grip on the bars. Try to stay loose and let your arms absorb the shocks from the trail. Obviously you need to hold tight enough not to lose control but if your arms are all tight, they'll get beat up. I got reminded of this riding my cx bike on single track.

Yes, you can adjust your saddle. The normal advice is that your saddle should be level. If it is, you may try tilting it down a little. Could also be your cockpit is too long causing you to lean forward too much, that could also explain your arm problem. But I've never had this issue so others can probably provide better info for you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
In my younger days I rode a lot of motocross and am familiar with arm pump and the death grip. I'm loose, but I am leaning forward. You mention the "cockpit is to long". That could be it, I have a 18.5" (19.5 size) bike and I'm 5'11", I wondered if I should have gotten the 17.5" (18.5 size) bike instead. I rode the 16.5" (17.5 size - don't know why Trek sizes are labeled both ways) bike and when standing up and pedaling it felt a little small like I was too close to the handlebars. Based on that, I opted for the larger size. So, if that could be part of it, what are my options to remedy (besides buy a new bike)?
 

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Just came across this on Bicycling magazine; this article is talking about road bikes but may be useful:

Hands
"A long reach to your handlebar creates a wrist extension that pinches nerves," McGlynn says. To determine your correct reach, ask a friend to watch you spin on a trainer. When your hands are on the hoods, your elbows should be slightly bent and your arms should be perpendicular to your torso. Vibrations from aluminum handlebars can also rattle your hands to sleep. McGlynn recommends installing Bontrager BzzzKill dampers ($10/pair) to absorb road chatter.


Groin
Leaning forward on your saddle compresses the perineal nerves (in the soft area between your groin and butt), which cuts off blood flow and feeling. First check your saddle tilt, says McGlynn. The top should be parallel to the ground, which allows your sit bones to carry most of your weight. Next, check your handlebar reach as described above; a long reach rotates your hips forward and transfers weight to your perineum.

How to Prevent Numbness on Bike Rides | Bicycling

Easiest way to adjust reach would be a shorter stem. Do you know what length stem your bike came with?
 

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Cycologist
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Since you bought the bike recently, you should go back to the LBS where you bought it and discuss your issues with them. They may let you swap out the stem or at least try a shorter stem, or they may make some adjustments to the saddle etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I went to the bike shop today and talked to them. The idea of changing sizes wasn't out of the question (we didn't discuss any restocking fee tho) but he said before he did anything like that he wanted to try to make some adjustments. The bike comes with a 38mm stem so that's pretty short. He ended up moving the seat forward a bit and adding a top tube extension to raise the bars. I rode tonight and "my junk" was okay, not sure about my hand/forearm it's still a bit numb and weak but might take a while to recover. I'm going to ride like this for a bit and see how that goes. He said there wasn't much difference in the sizes. He gave me the bonterage extender for $25 instead of the $35 list and no install fee. So I'm glad they're working with me to get the bike right. Now I see why people buy one good bike, get it right and stick with it for 10 years. Once I get this settled I'm in no hurry, I can barely zip my pants and trying to slice some potatoes for dinner tonight was a bit difficult. GRRR, and I don't want to stop because I'm so motivated I know how easy it is to fall out of a good habit and I don't want that to happen.

Thanks to all for tips, suggestions.
 

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Also take a look at saddles, just because it came on the bike, doesn't mean it should stay on. Saddles, grips, pedals are all contact points and different ones suit different people differently.

Be careful about tilting a saddle down/forward as it can make you put too much weight on your hands/arms trying to stop yourself sliding forward off the saddle. What you need to look at is the part where you actually sit, that should be level so you don't get that sliding forward feeling and so your sit bones take your full weight and not your jewels.

At your height I can't see that size being too big for you unless you have really short arms. What bike is it you have? Ask as I don't know of any/many that would come with that short of a stem, stock. Assume when you said they gave you a top tube extender you actually meant a high rise stem?

Personally I've not come across a Bonti saddle that was comfortable to me and I barely weight about 190lbs geared to ride. While I don't support super padded saddles, something with a bit more padding may just be what you need depending on how much of a clyde you are. Also, did you buy a good pair of padded shorts or at least lycra shorts to keep your junk from "swinging" and hitting the saddle etc at un-oportune times?
 

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Sounds like a lot of common bike fit issues. Investing in more thorough bike fitting will probably be very worth it. A saddle demo program can help with saddle fit beyond adjusting what you have now without having to buy a whole bunch of saddles before you find one you like. Talk with someone knowledgeable about it and have your current bike on hand to compare the saddle and discuss the specific issues you're having. And for Christ's sake, be CLEAR about it. Don't dance around the topic because you're uncomfortable talking about numbness in your genitals. To fix it, you need to know EXACTLY where it's a problem to find a saddle shape that's different and may address that issue.

If a bike fitting doesn't deal with some of those issues (especially the hand one), THEN I'd be talking to a doctor.
 

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Fat-tired Roadie
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What kind of riding are you doing?

What's a "top tube extension?"

I agree that this sounds more like fit problems than anything else.


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First, the hands. My right arm, the forearm, is somewhat numb after a long ride. I've noticed my strength in my right hand is pretty weak lately, can't open a stuck jar, etc. with it. I'm normally a fairly stout guy
I've had this happen before after long week(ends) in the saddle, around the time I started riding.

If you are experiencing weakness off the bike in your hands (or numbness, etc), then you really need to take a break and let your hand strength recover. It took a week or two for me the first few times it happens. Don't ignore these problems, they can grow into something more serious.

Second, go see a certified hand therapist. You shouldn't be getting this type of weakness in your hands and they can measure your grip strength, as well as give you some exercises to do to help. I found after seeing a therapist that I had ulnar nerve issues and received some exercises to help. If the exercises and time off the bike don't help, you may need some more serious intervention.

Padded gloves made the problems worse and actually introduced more problems. I spoke with my bike fitter about it and she indicated that padded gloves create more pressure points, so to go for proper fitting thin gloves over padded. That was my experience, also, the pain I normally experienced got worse and I had pain in areas I didn't have prior to using padded gloves.

Lastly, and this applies to both issues, go get a professional bike fit done. If you pay less than $200 or it takes less than 2 hours, then it is (most likely) not sufficient. Many bike shops offer "fittings" that are really sub par, look for someone with a Retul setup or Specialized Body geometry. They'll have training and experience in fitting the bike properly, to your body and to properly prevent these types of problems.

You risk permanent damage to your body if you continue riding like this. You need to see someone qualified in addressing these problems. Many people have no problem with off fitting bikes, some others (like myself) are more sensitive to it. It depends on a lot of factors, occupation and age being big ones. Two weeks off the bike to recover is a lot less than you'll have to take if you need surgery for either issue.

It may also be your technique, people telling you that you have a death grip on the bars is possible. My experience is that most people doing that are doing so because their bike fit is off and they are compensating for the fact their bike doesn't support them where it needs to.
 

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I also just saw your username. If you are in FL, look up Steffi @ A Perfect Bike Fit. She is really good, she did my fit and it eliminated a lot of my issues. She is also an experienced mountain biker and has a very extensive Retul setup in her studio.
 
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