NOTE: Good technique equals confidence that will increase your downhill speed. High speed without good technique could lead to disaster.

Some people like climbing, some people just love to climb, and there are those who see climbing as a means to an end. I am of the latter group. I climb hills for two reasons, first the hill is in my way of where I want to get and second is my love for the reward of descending. To quote John Swanda “a good descent is where I can reach 50 mph or more.” As I grow older my need to streak down a hill at 50 mph has lost some of its appeal but I still love the thrill of a fast technical descent. So, let me delve into what it takes to descend with utter confidence and skill.


Where to Look: The first thing, and perhaps one of the more important techniques, is where to look while descending. Many new riders have a propensity to look about 5 feet in front of them which is just about the worse place you should look. The reason is, at just about any speed, if you see any hazard just 5 feet ahead you will almost certainly hit it. We know “You Steer Where You Look,” therefore, it would be best to focus your gaze at least 20 feet ahead and further when possible. Doing this gives you time to react to any hazard you see and avoid it with time to spare. Once I see a hazard and have chosen a path around it I no longer look at it but keep my focus forward and allow my peripheral vision to keep me safe from the hazard. One phrase comes to mind and that is “Keep Your Chin Level with the Ground.” In other words always look way ahead.


Body Position: Body position is another technique to practice. If possible keep your hands in the drops with one finger on each brake lever. The one finger near the bottom of the brake lever will give you plenty of leverage to apply as much braking as should be necessary. You will have more leverage for braking as opposed to having your hands on the brake hoods where your fingers rest near the top of the brake lever. Scooting back on the saddle about an inch not only lowers your center of gravity but it makes reaching the brake levers easier. Always look up the road keeping your chin level with the ground.


Another very important element regarding body position is where we have our feet/legs for each turn. Always have the outside leg down and apply pressure on that leg. If you are making a left hand turn the right leg becomes the outside leg, for a right hand turn the left leg becomes the outside leg. Make this move before you reach any given turn. Applying pressure helps to lower your center of gravity and really stabilizes the bike during the turn. When doing this correctly I have about 80% of my weight on the outside pedal and if I hit a bump I can feel the saddle bump against my rump. As for what to do with the inside leg (the one that is up) some like to point the knee towards the turn and others like to keep the knee against the top tube. Try both and see which you like. I prefer to have my knee against the top tube but it took a while to get comfortable with that position.


Choosing A Line: The term “Outside-Inside-Outside” refers to the technique that uses the entire lane for a safe descent. For a right hand turn you should start your turn near the center line (outside), then drop the bike towards the apex of the turn or fog line if there is one (inside), then exit the turn allowing your bike to drift back near the center line (outside). A left hand turn starts near the fog line or right side of the lane and uses the center line as the apex of the turn. What you are doing is using the whole lane while you essentially straighten out the turn. Also, taking the lane allows you more options in case of an emergency. If you hug the right side of the road and are faced with a hazard you only have one direction of escape; not a comforting thought in my opinion. An old friend of mine used to say we are “Dancing with the Bike.” Riding down a technical descent is a beautiful dance with just you and your bike and you get to lead!


Braking: If you must always try to brake before you start your turn to scrub off enough speed to make the turn safely. If you happen to go into a turn faster than is comfortable your first focus should be to look where you want to go. The tendency is to look at the cliff, which you are trying your best to avoid, but we steer where we look. Don’t look that way! You can feather your brakes (lightly applied pressure) in a turn to help slow the bike down but don’t hit the brakes hard, disastrous things can happen. Hitting the front brake hard will straighten your bike up and hitting the rear brake hard will cause the rear of the bike to want to come to the front which will make your bike go sideways. This sideways maneuver usually pretzels the rear wheel and down you go.


Auto Traffic: On any descent we must share the road with auto traffic. When traffic is going faster than I am I prefer to move to the right side of the road, slow down and wave the car past. Then I can go back to using the entire lane for my own safety.


Passing and Being Passed: Try to always pass on the left but if someone is hugging the center line you may have to pass on the right. Call out “Passing on your Left/Right” before you reach them, use a bell if you have one. If someone is passing you don’t change your line, keep whatever position in the lane you are in and let them pass.


Miscellaneous Techniques: On a technical descent, as soon as I select the apex of each turn and aim for that, I look ahead to see what I have to do next. I no longer have to look at the turn I am in because I know I have made it and want to know what I have to do next to set up the next turn. On a straight descent I stay just to the left of the fog line (the white line on the right side of the road). This gives me room both to my left and right to maneuver if a need arises. I also keep my feet parallel (3 and 9 o’clock) so I can “post up” if I have to absorb a pot hole or whatever. If I keep one foot down then my weight is shifted and if I need to get my rump off the saddle (post up) then the bike becomes less stable.


On your next descent don’t try to do all these things at once. It will only frustrate you and slow you down. Instead take one technique and focus on it all the way to the bottom. When you have that technique dialed in then move to the next one. The order I teach is first learn to keep the outside leg down (this should be done on the flats as well as a descent). When that becomes second nature then focus on looking as far ahead as you can while using your peripheral vision to get you past an obstacle. Followed by adjusting your body position for optimal safety and comfort (this may take some time). Then start working on the best line through a turn (outside-inside-outside). Remember to practice on every descent and stay focused. Descending is probably the one place in my life that I am totally focused. All my thought is directed to a fun and safe descent. And if you get nervous Smile! It’s hard to be nervous when you are smiling.


Have fun and remember to say “On Your Left” as you pass me.


the Newsletter

By Carol E. Torgan, Ph.D., FACSM National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute

Cramps are miserable. I’m an exercise physiologist who specializes in skeletal muscle, so let me give everyone a little background about cramp causes and prevention.

A cramp is an intense, involuntary contraction of a muscle that usually occurs during or immediately after exercise. Cramps were traditionally thought to stem from fluid or electrolyte imbalances, but they are not always the reason. Cramps may occur following chronic muscle use by individuals, such as musicians, who are not sweating.

Cramps have also been attributed to extreme environmental conditions or metabolic abnormalities, but again there are examples where this doesn’t hold. Cramps typically occur in situations that cause muscle fatigue, such as toward the end of long, strenuous or intense rides.

A current theory suggests muscle cramps result from fatigue that triggers abnormal neural activity. There’s an increase in neural input telling the muscle to contract, and a decrease in signals telling the muscle to relax. The result is a vigorous contraction of part or all of the muscle.

The presence of dehydration is thought to accentuate muscle fatigue, adding insult to injury.

Cramps are most common in muscles that span two joints. The hamstrings are a great example. Other two-joint muscles include part of the quadriceps (thigh muscle) and the gastrocnemius (calf muscle).

Here’s a checklist for every cramp-afflicted person to think about.

People most prone to cramps are older, have a family history of cramping and have poor stretching habits.

 Do you get cramps in muscles that are not working very hard during cycling (such as the biceps)? If you do, this suggests a systemic factor is the main culprit (e.g., an electrolyte imbalance or dehydration). However, if cramps only occur in the muscles doing all the work, then fatigue is probably to blame.

 Do cramps occur only in hot conditions, or do you get them if you ride hard on mild days? Review your training diary and look for patterns a la Sherlock Holmes. Check weather conditions, type/length of ride, eating/drinking patterns the day before, during and after the ride, location(s) of the cramps, etc.  For example, if your cramps always occur in the same muscle when you ride a certain bike in a certain position (i.e. aero), then you can pinpoint it to local muscle fatigue and train accordingly.

 What Cures Cramps? Take Your Pick! By RBR Newsletter Subscribers

Because different riders cramp for different reasons, somewhere in the following collection of cramp remedies you might find the one that’ll work for you.


ALAN E.:  Tums help prevent cramps. On long, hard rides, I take a roll and chew down a few at the first signs of cramping. Tums helped me get through my first double century.

KERRY I.:  I have used electrolyte drinks, but they didn’t seem to make much difference. However, I have popped a Tums and felt much better — no threat of cramps and a generally better “body feeling” with more pedaling comfort. Tums are low sodium, and I’m generous with the salt shaker in my diet, so sodium is not the factor. Calcium seems to be their mystery ingredient.

PAUL B.:  Apart from the obvious solutions of water, a quality sports drink and plain old potassium supplement pills (pop one before and a couple during a potentially camp-producing ride), try chewing a few Tums with calcium every now and then. The fruit flavored ones taste pretty good, and you can buy them at almost any roadside convenience store or gas station.



RON M.:  I live in the great San Joaquin Valley of central California where it is not unusual to be out there grinding away in 100F+ degrees. I’ve been cycling for about 15 years and for 13 of them I suffered with more cramps than I would like to remember. Two years ago I started using Endurolytes by E-Caps. I’m a 56-year-old cyclist who now enjoys cramp-free riding.

J.S.:  I can almost assure you that a product called Endurolytes will prevent cramping. And your legs will be a lot less sore after hard rides, too. I’ve “fixed” countless people who had chronic cramping with this product. Also, keep note of your weight before and after rides. As time goes by, you will get a read on how well you are managing hydration. If you lose more than 2% of your weight, you are not drinking enough.

ELI M.:  Endurolytes is the best electrolyte replacement supplement I have ever tried. Take a few before riding, then 1-3 every hour during. Great for hot days or any long ride.

RICHARD M.:  On the toughest 65 miles I’ve ever ridden (95F degrees, high dew point, many steep climbs) I took one Endurolyte per hour and had no cramps. Perhaps the stuff worked, or perhaps it was just a coincidence.

DREW C.:  Try Endurolytes from Hammer Nutrition. Much of their stuff is a tad placebo-ish for my tastes, but I have found these to work well in the heat.


Better Riding through Chemistry

TOM B.:  I take Hammer Nutrition’s E-Caps first and often, way before I need them — 2 or 3 every hour after the first three hours. Plus Tums. On a double century, I will start with Tums by midmorning and then have 2 or 3 at lunch. More in the afternoon, maybe 8 or 10 total for the day. It’s the same or more for the E-Caps.

I keep these products in a box on my top tube, in sight and in mind. When in doubt and heat is a factor, I eat a couple extra of each.

I also like guarana for my afternoon caffeine, but that has nothing to do with cramps. Plus, a couple Advil helps, but no more than 2 or 3 all day.

I drink a lot of Gatorade, carried in my water bottle. I also mix it with Hammer’s Sustained Energy in my CamelBak for my primary hydration resource.

I drink 12-18 oz. of tomato juice or V8 at any stop that has them. This stuff is magic for me on the afternoons of long rides.

I finish up a rest stop with an extra glass of water or Gatorade right before jumping on the bike. I have found that shorter is better at rest stops for cramp elimination.


RANDY I.:  No one who has used SPIZ for any event of any kind lasting more than three hours has ever cramped (that I know of). In 2002, Dr. Bob Breedlove set the over-50 U.S. transcontinental record obtaining 95% of his calories from SPIZ and had no cramping, even in the 110F-degree California desert. SPIZ has 600 mg of sodium per serving, enough that if you down a bottle every 60 minutes or so, sodium is replaced faster than you can lose it.


FRANK D.:  I mix up a custom blend of “lite” salt — half sodium chloride and half potassium chloride, Extran and Accelerade. I use a huge backpack-style hydration system, around 4 liters, and fill it for a long summer ride. The salt varies from a tablespoon in the winter to two or slightly more in the summer. The terrain here in SoCal is reasonably steepish where we ride, so my 52-year-old legs get hammered pretty good.

I believe since I don’t add salt to my food, nor do I eat many packaged salty things, I’m probably sodium shy. The addition of the potassium chloride seems to be beneficial also. Before I added it to the brew, I had everything from tingly cramps to outrageous cramps and seemed to retain fluids.

This is all anecdotal, of course, but I’ve honed my mix over the last couple years. Since the addition of Accelerade some time ago, I am happy to say I haven’t had one cramp. Maybe it’s the protein (who knows?). Your mileage may vary.

AMY R., M.D.:  One key is in eating a well-salted breakfast, such as one little salt packet on each — the eggs, the hot cereal, the potatoes. I haven’t gotten a headache or cramp since I started this pre-loading.

Another key on a hot, sweaty day is to drink V-8 juice, a veritable liquid salt pill, containing lots of sodium and potassium. If it’s too strong, water it down some. One four-ounce can at noon is a great booster for me, and light enough to carry behind my saddle. When I start thinking that licking my salty, sweaty,  sunscreened arm is a tasty-sounding idea, I know I’m behind. Get out the V-8!

A caveat: I was on a nine-day ride in hot southern Utah. We all got into downing lots of V-8. Fine, until the ride was over. The day after, my salt load began to show in swollen legs, which I’d never had, and it took days for them to come down. That was educational. Next time, I’ll back off the last day or so, which shouldn’t hurt performance. Hypertensives beware!

Also, have you noticed how much sodium there is in Fig Newtons? Mercy! They’re better than pretzels as a salty snack. I like beef jerky, too, sometimes. Read the small print on snacks. It’s illuminating.

Besides true-riding experience, my only other credential is that I’m an M.D. (anesthesiologist). For what it’s worth!

LEE R.:  I’ve got a couple of methods that I employ for 6-hour endurance races. First, eat a small can of Pringles (pizza flavored is my favorite) an hour or two before the start. Second, add a pinch of kosher salt per bottle to enhance your sports drink. I wouldn’t recommend using regular iodized table salt as it adds an unpleasant “tinny” taste.

 MIKE B.:  Do as the tennis pros do. They keep salt in a baggy, and between sets they consume a tablespoon or so with their drink. I’m careful to take in as much salt as I can. I’m a triathlete, and salt deprivation is probably the leading cause of spectacular blowups!

KENT W.:  In the Death Ride here in California, at most of the rest stops they have boiled salted red potatoes. Real food for the long ride, with lots of salt to help prevent cramps.  Also, Mexican food the night before a hot, sweaty ride gives you lots of salt.

 BEN C.:  If you’re like me, your helmet straps get crusty with salt. Your face gets gritty with salt. And it’s not uncommon to have bands of salt marks on shorts and jerseys.

Forcing yourself to consume water even when you don’t want to drink more is only part of the solution/problem. Replenishing the electrolytes that you sweat out is also key.

Now here’s the trick: replenishing the electrolytes in the same concentrations you are losing them!

It’s not good enough to consume lots of water and lots of salt and potassium. If you consume too much salt, you can make yourself sick. If you don’t consume enough salt, you ultimately will “hit the wall.”

If you consume only half as much salt, for instance, as you have lost but consume an equal amount of water as you have perspired, then you have diluted your salt replenishment. Over time, this will do you in.

I don’t have a foolproof way for being certain that you are consuming enough salt and other electrolytes to offset this loss. But by being aware of the need to maintain a balance, it may help you come a lot closer.

HANK G., M.D.:  I’ve done many centuries and always seem to cramp. When I heard Arnie Baker speak, he recommended taking more salt to prevent cramping. So before a 200-mile ride, I ate potato chips and a couple of Snickers, in addition to lots of peanut butter on a bagel. It was the first time I didn’t cramp on a long ride, and it was the longest one-day ride I’ve ever done. I’m convinced that the salt in those foods made a difference.


GILLIAN M.:  Magnesium is the “anti-spasmodic mineral.” I work with many people in my practice who suffer from cramps. If they get good levels of potassium, magnesium and calcium, the painful problem may subside. I prefer liquid forms of these minerals because they work so much faster and are absorbed better.

A supplement with a 1:1 ratio of calcium/magnesium brings some relief after a week or so of using it. For some people extra vitamin E is helpful, and so is Aangamic DMG (used to be known as B15), which cuts down lactic acid buildup.


PAT C.:  Since taking 550 mg of potassium a day, I can’t seem to get myself to cramp during swims, bike rides, runs and two hours of karate a day.

Kool ‘n Fit

PETE K.:  Try Kool ‘n Fit, a liquid pain reliever. This stuff is magic! I’ve had a cramp the size of a golf ball just above my knee, sprayed on Kool ‘n Fit, and watched it release. It doesn’t solve the cramping indefinitely, but it will get you back on the bike and rolling again.

It comes in a large bottle, so I put it in a little travel pump hairspray bottle for rides. It also takes away the my-legs-are-made-of-wood feeling that you get late in a ride, even when you aren’t cramping. Magic, I’m telling you!


DAVID F.:  I’ve been a long-time sufferer of cramps, some of which have been immobilizing. Recently I have been using a product called E-Lyte, and my cramping has stopped.

A number of my teammates had been bugging the rest of us to use E-Lyte, which

became a sponsor of our team. I ignored them, but after sweating buckets and suffering one horrible bout of cramps on the indoor trainer, I decided to try it. Since then, remarkably and to my surprise, I have not had cramps. The stuff works.

Hydra Fuel

GENE P.:  I have successfully prevented cramps by drinking dilute Hydra Fuel from TwinLab. My computer has an interval function, which I set to beep every 10 minutes to remind me to take a drink. Every other beep, I also eat a bite of an energy bar or some gel. I recently completed a double century feeling great with this formula.

HCH Cramp Stop

CLIFF K.:  Here in New Zealand, there is a product called HCH Cramp Stop. It’s sold via a website and works for everyone that I know who has tried it. It comes in a small plastic spray bottle that’s hardly noticed in your jersey pocket. When cramps start, a couple of sprays under the tongue is all it takes for everything to be back to normal between 30 seconds and two minutes The time seems to vary from person to person.


GREG C.:  RendiMAX is available in drug stories, like Medicine Shoppe, that specialize in homeopathic medicines. I keep a few pills in a sandwich bag on long rides and dissolve them in my mouth at the first sign of cramping. That and Cytomax, plenty of liquids and a salty pretzel or two pretty much keeps me cramp-free.


TOM G.: I had cramping until I started taking Thermotabs, available in drug stores. Now I do not cramp due to heat and decreased minerals/electrolytes.

 Tonic Water

GRAHAM F.:  I had suffered from cramps for years. When I was racing in England, my coach told me to drink a liter of tonic water the night before every hard day. Tonic water contains quinine, which doctors added to water for British soldiers when they were cramping during fighting in the heat of the northwest frontier in India. Now I race in the U.S. and always drink tonic water before a hard day.

Pickle Juice

MARGIE B.:  I know this sounds crazy, but my husband is an avid tennis player and one of his partners swears by pickle juice for cramps. He keeps a flask during long matches.

TERRY M.:  I live in Louisiana where the heat is almost relentless.  It’s not uncommon for us to have a heat index of 110-115F degrees, and of course the humidity is never under 70%.

One thing that prevents cramping is pickle juice. Yep, plain ole pickle juice. I learned this trick years ago when I played football in college. Some of the NFL teams use it also, especially when playing in the South. I don’t recall all the why’s and how’s of it working, but it has worked for me many years. Just a couple of ounces, and it isn’t bad tasting, either.

Train More!

JAMES W.:  I had brutal cramps on TOMRV, a two-day ride up the Mississippi River Valley and back. I cramped so hard at the end of 110 miles on the first day that I could not walk, stand, sit, bend over, or anything. I had competing cramps on opposite sides of my legs!

I did everything I could think of to ward them off, but to no avail. I tried eating bananas, kiwi, oranges. I drank 140 ounces of Cytomax and 60 ounces of water. I ate pretzels and trail mix for the salt. Nothing worked.

My conclusion was that the cramps were not heat or exercise induced so much as undertraining induced. Not much I could do about that except train more for the next time. Lesson learned.

This article is a reprint from

Level and center the seat: Start adjusting fit by placing the bicycle on a level Start with a level seatsurface and checking that the seat is level . A good way to check is to place a carpenter’s level on top of the seat. If you don’t have this tool, place a yardstick on top of the seat and compare the edge of the yardstick to a horizontal sight line, which you know to be level such as a windowsill or the top of a building. While adjusting, ensure that the seat is centered on its rails over the seat post, too.


· A level seat supports your full body weight, offers optimum pedaling efficiency and makes it easier to move around on the seat when necessary. (It’s logical to think that tilting the seat down will ease pressure on sensitive areas. But, when you do this, it causes you to slide forward when riding, which puts extra pressure on your arms, hands and knees, which can lead to injury.)

· Most riders do fine with level seats. If you experience discomfort, tip the seat slightly (no more than 3 degrees) up or down. Women typically tip it down; men tip it up.

· If the seat won’t move after loosening the bolt(s), the parts are probably stuck. Tapping the seat with the heel of your hand should free the parts.

Adjust seat height: The easiest do-it-yourself seat-height adjustment is done on a trainer or indoors in a doorway and requires a friend or spouse to help. Put on your cycling shorts and shoes, mount Take the time to get this right!your bike in the trainer or place your bike in the doorway, get on and hold onto the doorjamb to support yourself. Have your helper stand behind.

To find seat height, place your heels on the pedals and pedal backwards. You’ve found the optimum seat height when your legs are completely extended at the bottoms of the pedal strokes with your heels on the pedals. Have your helper watch for rocking hips, the sign that the seat is too high. Now, when you’re actually pedaling, you’ll have the perfect bend in your knees (photo B).


· This is a starting position. If it feels too low or high, adjust the seat up or down. But, only slightly to fine-tune the adjustment.

· When you’ve found the perfect position, mark it with an indelible marker (or wrap electrical tape around the post to mark it) so you won’t have to go through the fitting process again.

· Consider memorizing the measurement, too (measure from the top of the seat to the middle of the crank).

Adjust the shoe cleats: If you’re riding in cycling shoes, it’s important that the cleats on the soles are positioned correctly. There are two important adjustments, fore/aft and angular. The former isCleat alignment will save your knees! easy to find, the latter takes some careful trial and error.

The cleat should be positioned so that the balls of your feet rest over the centers of the pedals (the axles) when you’re pedaling. Sight from the top when you’re on the bike to check this (hold your feet level). The balls of your feet form protrusions on the insides of the shoes and these should rest right over the axles. If not, adjust the cleats as needed.

Ideally, your cleat position allows resting your feet in a natural position on the pedals. Otherwise, you could injure your knees. Usually, aligning the cleats with an imaginary line that bisects the soles provides a safe starting position. But, go for some very easy rides to check the position and ensure its right for your knees. If you feel any stress or strain, change the angle slightly to eliminate discomfort.


· When you’ve found an ideal cleat position, trace lines around the cleats so you can easily replace a worn cleat and reposition a loose one.

· Use quality tools and work with care so you don’t strip the cleat bolts. Also, check your hardware to make sure it’s still tight after about 5 hours of riding.

· If you’re using toe clips and straps, make sure the clips hold your feet in the optimum position (balls of the feet over the centers of the pedals). If not, get different-size clips. If you’ve got huge feet, place spacers between the clips and pedals to “lengthen” the clips.

Find fore/aft seat position: This adjustment requires a helper, too. Place your bike on a level surface next to a wall or post so you can hold yourself upright (or put it on a trainer, but be sure to Find your sweet spotlevel the bike). Put on your biking shorts and shoes, get on and pedal backwards until you’re sitting in the “sweet spot” on the seat.  The forward crank arm and pedal must be level with the ground. The fore/aft seat adjustment is correct when a plumb line (any piece of string with a weight on the end) hanging from the bony protrusion just below your kneecap, bisects the pedal axle.


· As with the other adjustments, this is a safe starting position.

· If you’re over 6-feet tall, ride long distances, climb a lot and pedal at about 90 rpm, you may prefer to be as much as 1 to 2 cm behind the pedal axles.

· If you’re less than 6-feet tall, spin at 95 rpm or faster and like to sprint, you’ll probably prefer to be directly over the axles.

Check handlebar height: Changing handlebar height can require know-how and parts you may not have. So, I recommend using these tips only to gauge adjustment. If you discover that youThis seat is angled too far down! need a change, you should visit your local bike shop to check what parts you need.

The first bar-height check is comfort. If you’re sore during or after rides particularly in the lower back and/or neck, the bars may need adjustment. Inspect bar height by standing your bike on a level surface and viewing it from the side comparing the height of the seat to the height of the bars. For road riding, a difference of 1 to 4 inches is optimal, even slightly more, if you’re a flexible racer. For off-road use and recreational riding, bar height should be equal to or up to 2 inches below the seat height. Keep in mind that these are guidelines that work for most people. Sometimes it takes a little experimentation to find the most comfortable position.


· If you’d like to measure the difference between your seat and bar height, rest a straightedge on the seat (if the seat’s not level, level the straightedge) so it extends over the bars and measure the difference with a ruler.

· It’s important to realize that there’s a limit to how much you can raise the handlebars. The amount of adjustment depends on the frame and component design. In some cases, it may be necessary to install longer cables and housing to raise the handlebars, too.

· Tall riders (long arms and large hands) usually favor lower handlebars and short riders prefer higher ones.

· Achieve a comfortable back angle of approximately 45 degrees (depending on your degree of flexibility).

· When the bars are the right height, it should feel natural to look ahead (no neck craning).

· Another way to “raise” mountain-bike handlebars is to replace your flat bars with a riser model. These can be an inch or two higher than flat bars.

· It’s usually not a good idea to raise the handlebars too much. Once they’re higher than the seat, your body weight is shifted more over the rear of the bike, which can mean greater jolts from bumps in the road. This can lead to discomfort and pain.

Check handlebar reach: A proper reach to the handlebars is the key to enjoying comfortable rides. If the bars are too close or too far away, you may experience neck, shoulder, back andYour elbows should be bent naturally hand pain. And, it can cause you to scoot backward or forward on your seat all the time. On most bikes, to change length, you must replace the stem. And stems come in a variety of types and diameters.

To check reach at home, put on your cycling clothes, mount your bike on a trainer and make sure the bike is level. Get on and pedal until you’re comfortable with your upper body relaxed. Look ahead as if you were looking down the road. For dropped handlebars, rest your hands on the tops of the brake levers. For flat bars with bar ends, use the regular grip position. Now, have a helper look at you from the side to gauge where a plumb line dropped from the tip of your nose would fall. Optimally, there should be about an inch between the plumb line and the center of the handlebar.


· If you don’t have a helper, photograph/video yourself from the side and check the picture.

· If you feel the need to scoot forward on the seat while riding, your stem is probably too long (and vice versa).

· Indicators of proper reach include: being able to always comfortably bend the elbows while riding, no hump in the back, a natural neck angle and equal pressure on the hands and seat.

Check handlebar size: Most bicycles today come with handlebars that suit the person who fits the bike. So, it’s likely that your handlebars fit adequately. There are lots of different handlebar sizes Bar width equals shoulder widthand shapes, however, and changing might fine-tune your fit providing additional comfort.

Check width first. For optimal control and efficiency, drop handlebars should be about the same width as your shoulders. These bars come in sizes ranging from about 38- to 44-cm wide. So, if the distance between the bony protrusions on top of your shoulder blades is 42 cm, that’s what the handlebar width should be.

Flat-bar widths vary, too. Usually, riders who enjoy demanding, technical trails appreciate a little additional width (24 to 27 inches), especially if they’re using dual-suspension frames. All-round riders prefer a more standard width of about 22 inches. Also, if the trails you ride cut through tight spaces such as neighboring trees, you’ll want to be sure the bars aren’t too wide to clear the obstacles.

Handlebars come in various shapes, too. Flat bars have different bends and may include rise to help you sit more upright. Drop bars often feature anatomic bends in the hooks for more comfort. And they’re sometimes bent differently on the tops to accommodate your wrists. Another consideration with drop bars is reach, the distance between the bar tops and bottoms. Usually, taller riders appreciate more reach.


if this most-efficient machine isn’t properly adjusted, you could suffer serious discomfort such as a numb bum, burning feet, stabbing knee or back pain, sore hands, achy shoulders and a stiff neck. Yikes! And with these afflictions, instead of zipping down roads and trails effortlessly, you may well wobble along like a top-heavy wheelbarrow.

Don’t panic, though. Just check my handy-dandy troubleshooting chart for solutions to your bike-fit problems, dial in your ride and you’ll be spinning along the way in no time.


You’re always having to scoot backwards on the seat

  •   Stem is too long so you pull yourself forward when you’re riding without realizing it; saddle nose may be tipped down too much
  •   Install a shorter stem; level saddle

You’re always having to scoot forward on the seat

  • Stem is too short so you feel cramped and push yourself back when you’re riding without realizing it; saddle nose may be tipped back or the seat may not be far enough back on the rails
  • Install a longer stem; level the seat and center it on the rails

Lower back hurts

  • Stem too low or too long; must strain back to reach bars; or seat may be too high causing rocking when pedaling
  • Try raising the stem/handlebars; still hurts?; try shorter stem; check and adjust seat height

Neck hurts

  • Stem too low; must crane neck to see
  • Raise the stem/bars

Hands hurt

  • Stem too low; too much weight on hands
  • Raise the stem/bars

Front of knee hurts

  • Seat too low, straining knees
  • Raise the seat

Back of knee hurts

  • Seat too high, overextending legs
  • Lower the seat

Numb bum all the time

  • Too much weight on the seat
  • Try a lower handlebar position; check seat height as it may be too high

Achilles tendon hurts

  • Pedaling too much on your toes; cleats too far forward on your shoes
  • Keep the balls of your feet over the pedals when you’re riding; move cleats back

This Saturday’s ride will start at Hardie Park in Cayucos and goes North on Hwy 1 to Shamel Park in Cambria then back to Hwy 46 and up to Old Creek Road where we will descend back to Cayucos.


HEADBANGER OPTION: Climb Santa Rosa Creek Rd from Cambia to top of Old Creek Rd.

Ride Leaders: Ron Starkey
Total Miles: 44
Total Vertical: Approx. 5000’

Start Location: Hardie Park in Cayucos at the corner of Birch and B St.
Depart Time: 9:00 Sharp

The A group averages 17+ mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of
total vertical.
The B group averages 14+ mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of total

Faster riders are welcome and invited to go off the front and meet up with
the rest of the riders at the rest stops.
Regroups and Restrooms every 15+ miles or so….

we won’t be breaking for Lunch or Coffee Shop stops until the end.

Got questions contact Ron or Kathy at 805.788.0188

To look at the route in more detail go to:
Our Sponsor
Rizzoli’s Automotive
2584 Victoria St.
San Luis Obispo

Family owned and operated since 1976 

Join us on Facebook at


This Saturday’s ride will depart from Starbucks and go out to High Mountain
above Lopez Lake and back.

Ride Leader: Ron Starkey
Total Miles: 48
Total Vertical: 2225’
Start Location: Starbucks, 3971 S. Higuera Street, SLO
Depart Time: 9:00 Sharp

The A group averages 17+mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of
total vertical.
The B group averages 14 +mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of total

Faster riders are welcome and invited to go off the front and meet up with
the rest of the riders at the rest stops. Regroups and Restrooms every 15
miles or so…. No Lunch or Coffee stops until the end.

To look at the route in more detail go to:

 Got questions contact Ron at 805.788.0188

Find us on Facebook at

Or the web at

Rizzoli’s Automotive
2584 Victoria St.
San Luis Obispo

Family owned and operated since 1976

This Saturday’s ride will start at the intersection of Highway 46 and Vineyard Dr in Paso Robles-Templeton. The route goes out Vineyard Dr. to Adelaida Rd then across the top of the hills on Chimney Rock Rd then descends into downtown Paso Robles on Naciemento Lake Dr. After a rest stop at the city park the route climbs up Peachy Canyon Rd.  then turns left onto Willow Creek rd. From there it’s a short hop to Vineyard and the finish.

Vineyard Chimney Rock Peachy Canyon Ride

Lunch will be at Pier 46 Seafood Market & Restaurant located next to Trader Joe’s in Templeton at hwy 101 and Vineyard

Ride Leaders: Ron Starkey
Total Miles: 42
Total Vertical: Approx. 3200’

Start Location: Vineyard Dr. @ Highway 46 Paso Robles/Templeton

Depart Time: 9:00 Sharp

The A group averages 17+ mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of total vertical.
The B group averages 14+ mph over a 50 mile route with 2000 feet of total vertical.

Vineyard Chimney Rock Peachy Canyon Ride elevation profile

Faster riders are welcome and invited to go off the front and meet up with the rest of the riders at the rest stops. Regroups and Restrooms every 15+ miles or so…. we won’t be breaking for Lunch or Coffee Shop stops until the end.

Got questions contact Ron or Kathy at 805.788.0188

Vineyard Chimney Rock Peachy Canyon Ride

To look at the route in more detail go to:

Our Sponsor
Rizzoli’s Automotive
2584 Victoria St.
San Luis Obispo

Family owned and operated since 1976

Join us on Facebook