New guy questions...- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    New guy questions...

    Ok so i've been riding for a few weeks now (2-3 rides per week) and I have a few questions for the pros.

    Why do my hands go numb?

    My average speed is around 9 mph right now. Of course there are some sections where i'm chugging along at 15 and then some where i'm barely moving at 6 but according to my computer my avg is 9. That seems stupid slow but I feel like i'm working my ass off. Is this a good base number to start out at or am I just in terrible shape??

    Distance wise, i'm making it about 7 miles before I get pretty whooped. I know i'm begining but how far do most of you ride on an avg ride??

  2. #2
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    Numb hands could be a lot of things ,you could be holding the grips too tight,your grips could be the wrong size for your hands,you could need to move your handle bars up or down forward or back. 9mph could slow or fast ,it depends what are the trails like? Depending on the ride I'm doing my average could be 6 or 12 in the dirt, on the road it could be 18. There are hills around here you are flying if you are doing 4mph going up.

  3. #3
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    Do you wear gloves? I don't like wearing gloves, but I've found that on some trails they're absolutely necessary.

  4. #4
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    How much travel do you have in your fork? How much travel are you actually using? Is the preload set too high? Use a ziptie to test.

    Are you wearing leather gloves suitable for bike riding? Mechanics gloves are suitable. Some come with gel padding as does specialized (generic, not brand name) bike gloves.

    Are you griping the handlebars too tightly? Are the grips sufficiently soft? Are you too tense, and not sufficiently relaxed? Are you using 1 finger on the brakes instead of 2 fingers (1 is preferred).

    Are you running too much air pressure in your tires? I calculate rider wight + bike weight / 7. I then set the front to 1 pound under and the rear to one pound over that number (and, that is with tubes). Some would say that is too low, but I am not an aggressive rider.

    Is the bike a good fit? The following statements will give you a good place to start. Then, after a few weeks of riding, you can start making small adjustments one-at-a-time and testing them for several rides before making another adjustment. Position the seat for-and-aft based upon your legs and the position of your knees over the pedals. Make sure that the saddle is level. With the seat set to a height that is good for leg extension, the handlebars should be at about the same height (not much lower, if any). If the stem is not too long, then you should not have too much weight on the hands. With the bike secure and stationary, get into riding position and then take your hands off the bars. Can you hold that position without straining? Find the various online guides (some on youtube) to proper fit and verify that you are reasonably close.

  5. #5
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    You're probably riding stiff and gripping too tightly. Loosen up your body and your hands will follow. Let your legs do all the suspension work so that your hands are loosely steering instead of absorbing shocks.

  6. #6
    Stand-up philosopher
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    i had this problem and it was that my bars were too wide along with the stem being too long. i moved the grips in about 1/2" on both ends and went from a 110mm stem to a 90. I'm still considering going to maybe a 70mm stem. anyway, don't cut your bars until you are sure that they are right. I rode with my grips 1/2" from the ends for about a month before i cut the bars. Also, you want to check the rotational angle of the brakes and shifters so that they are comfortable. loosen the bolts in both, then sit comfortably on the bike. turn the brake handle until it lines up with your fingers straight out.........ie, in the gripping position so that you aren't having to rotate your wrists to use them. then tighten the bolt.

  7. #7
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    When I started riding seriously (3 times/week) I was at your same pace, about 9mph. Now, I can maintain about 14mph just doing small, 10 mile loops. It will come and your distances will also improve. As you improve your endurance you'll also find yourself shifting up into harder gears to maintain a comfortable cadence. Just stick with it.

    On another note, check your seat height relative to your feet on the pedals. You may want to try setting the height so that you ALMOST get full leg extension on the downstroke of the pedal. I remember riding when I was new to the sport and my legs were real tired towards the end, and a friend I was with made the suggestion. Raised my seat probably an inch and it made a huge difference. Just experiment with it.

    If your hands still hurt, you may want to consider some Ergon locking grips. Better palm support and a ton of people on these forums swear by them. If you don't want to spend the money for the Ergons, there are regular stick on grips that are similar in form/function to the Ergons. I bought a pair at a Giant dealer near me, and they were Giant-branded.
    Please donate to IMBA or your local IMBA chapter. It's trail karma.

  8. #8
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    Relax your hands,wear thin gloves with good grips check seat postion could be putting un wanted pain in hands. keep riding

  9. #9
    Trail Tire TV on blogger
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCMTB View Post
    ......................

    If your hands still hurt, you may want to consider some Ergon locking grips. Better palm support and a ton of people on these forums swear by them. If you don't want to spend the money for the Ergons, there are regular stick on grips that are similar in form/function to the Ergons. I bought a pair at a Giant dealer near me, and they were Giant-branded.
    it's what i had to do to stop the numb. I have a habit of "death gripping" and they helped cure it. Look at getting the Sm-Med size over the large unless you are a wicked giant person.


    time wise it all depends on your terrain and fitness... actually your speeds are about what I get, but then I'm not a racer and am Fat!
    Going to try and bring Trail Tire TV back. go take a look... http://trailtiretv.blogspot.com/

  10. #10
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    I bought Ergon grips as I have a tendency to "death grip" my handle bars as well. So I give a thumbs up to the above suggestions.

    Also like stated above, a lot of new riders ride with the seat too low, if you have a bike with a geometry newer than 2000, you should be sitting forward and your knees should be at 'almost' full extension when your on the down stroke.

    Welcome to this amazing and completely rewarding sport!! Glad to have you here!!
    People ask me all the time "who beat you up"? I tell them "a tree". They just look at me funny....

  11. #11
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    I have some Lizard Skin clamping grips that I installed the same day I got the bike, they are a little larger in diameter than the original grips and seemed to be more comfortable. It's hard to say whether or not i'm gripping them too tightly but I will be more aware on my next ride.

    These bars are pretty wide, not sure exactly but narrowing them might now be a bad idea, i'll play around with that. I've also played with the levers and have been progressively moving them a little farther away from the grips (maybe 1/16 to 1/8 inch at a time).

    As far as leg extension is concerned, I don't come very close to locking out, as a matter a fact i'm probably 2" or so from a full lock out so I can afford to move the seat up a little bit.

    Being soo new is somewhat frustrating especially since I want to immeadiately go hang with all the seasoned pros but my endurance is seriously lacking. Hopefully by summer i'll be able to hang at least for a while. My friends are riding around 13-14mph and i'd like to see those numbers in my future rides.

  12. #12
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    Ulnar nerve compression

    When you say your hands go numb, I'm guessing you mean your 4th and 5th fingers. If that's the case, you are experiencing ulnar nerve compression. A lot of the advice you are getting here is good advice, and is all intended to reduce the abuse on the outer area of your palm, where the nerve crosses.

    Bike setup is important because you may have body positioning that leads to too much weight being placed on the handlebars and your ulnar nerve. This setup included the length of your stem, the height of your seatpost, how far forward you have your seat, the height of your handlebars, etc.
    Good gloves with padding over the area helps provide more cushion.
    The quality and setup of your front fork can determine how much impact and vibration your hands get, too.

    Also, don't forget that your body is the biggest shock absorber on your bike. Stay loose, let your arms and legs absorb the bumps, and avoid the death grip.

    I would recommend you make changes to minimize the pressure on this area, as you don't want to cause long-lasting nerve damage...
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  13. #13
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    I recall having the numbness thing a little when I started. Gloves have been covered quite a bit already. Bar ends can help too. There are a lot of different ones, but they allows you to vary your hand position. So, that may help and its a low cost experiment.

    Don't sweat the speeds and distances at 2-3 weeks into this unless your planning to race. In which case just keep working on going faster than before. But you should probably compare similar courses as there is a lot of variation in terrain.

    Personally, I am purely recreational and as such a bike computer is no longer an accessory on my bike. My phone has GPS, so I track time, distance, etc on it using Everytrail app and I check it later. I do still take some pride in long distance, but time isn't really a factor. In fact, the longer the time I spend on an MTB, the better!!!

  14. #14
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    i think you might either be holding your grips too tight, especially during downhill sections, or you are leaning forward too far while riding which is putting your weight on your arms. try to loosen your grip and lean back shifting your center of gravity and point your toes up while coasting. this will relieve the weight on your arms and hands.

  15. #15
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    In terms of your speed the important numbers I saw was that you averaged 9 mph for 7 miles meaning you were at it for 3/4 of an hour. There is no way to correlate speed as the terrain and conditions will have a lot to say about that. Spending 3/4 of an hour exercising with a good warmup is where you are benefiting. If the bike computer makes it more fun or motivates you keep it on your ride. Personally in rode biking I grew tired of measuring myself by the numbers on the screen and I chucked my computer and enjoyed the riding much more. Keep finding enjoyment in your riding and keep getting out.

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