Tuesday, July 19, 2011

To Ride or Not to Ride? That is the Question

'Tis almost time again to participate in the annual Venus de Miles ride which starts out locally in Prospect and continues on either a 33, 51, 67 or 100 mile ride through the hills or mountain area (depending on the ride one chooses). For anyone unfamiliar, it is an all-women ride that raises money for Greenhouse Scholars, and while I do think it's a worthy cause, I keep putting off registration for one reason or another.  Lack of money, faltering in regard to whether or not I actually want to do the ride again, knowing that classes will have just started up when the ride takes place and wondering whether or not I want to have another reason to be stressed out are just a few of the excuses I keep using to put registration off.
**Image from GreenhouseScholars.org
In addition to the more self-induced (or manufactured), not really legitimate reasons indicated above, I'm struggling with my ability to ride the Hillborne. After more than a year of having and utilizing him, I seem to still struggle with any length of ride on him. I used to just think it was just longer distance, but I've had several instances of aching hand/wrist/lower arm muscles even on short rides. When Sam and I returned from a round trip, 3-mile ride to the market the other day, my hands were completely numb, and later in the day started aching even more. On such a very short ride, there shouldn't be this sort of pain. As an added "bonus", after I ride I seem to struggle with walking due to hip pain (This is a new one for me - and I'm certainly not old enough to be falling apart yet, am I? Wait. Don't answer that.).
I get myself quite worked up about the whole deal because while I know I can physically complete the distance, I don't want to struggle with deep muscle pain the entire length of the ride, and then for hours afterward either. I know that my hand and wrist issues are something unrelated to the bicycle and that I'll have to deal with those regardless, but I never have pain when I ride my upright/city bicycles, so we're looking for a solution to make this ride just as comfortable. While I did ride the Hillborne during last years' Venus de Miles, I don't want to experience the same issues that took place during that ride and that continue today as well.
The start of the Venus de Miles ride 2010
In the mean time, I have a decision to make about the Venus ride. Do I sign up and just not ride if a solution isn't reached in the next 5 weeks or so? I have a friend who is supposed to also ride, but I don't want to disappoint her and not show up at the last minute. Do I attempt to ride the Public Bike on the longer ride (Boy, I got looks riding a steel frame, touring bike last year, can you imagine the commentary I'd receive going on a loop frame, upright, steel bike - Though I must admit, part of me would enjoy proving that I could do the ride even on that bike)?  Do I just decide that the ride isn't going to be a possibility this year, and wait until the Hillborne issues are resolved to try again in 2012?
While I could wait to register for the ride until the last minute, the fees go up incrementally the longer one waits. In addition, I'd like to have time to participate in the fundraiser if I'm going to ride (since the whole point is to get money for Greenhouse Scholars). I don't have a definite answer yet, but I'm certainly open to input from anyone with reasonable suggestions.  Basically, what would you do?


  1. I'd go ahead and ride on whatever you felt most comfortable on. I have a Montague folding bike that I've done a couple of charity rides on. Sometimes people notice that the frame is a little different from a regular road bike (not a diamond frame, per se), but it can also be a great conversation piece - if you want to ride the public bike, go for it - as long as you'll be comfortable, that's the important thing.

  2. What an interesting folding bike! I'm sure you have had some interesting conversations about it. It's not the same look as a Dahon or a Brompton, but kind of its own uniquely interesting look.

    I think the concern with riding the upright is that I'll have an opposite problem (pain in the rear, instead of the hands), due to the position of sitting/length of ride. The nice thing is that I do have a small bit of time beforehand, so I can experiment and go on some longer rides on the Public to see how that goes. While a 12 mile ride is good, a 33 or 51 mile ride might be a completely different story.

    I completely agree with you though - comfort is the main concern, whichever bike is chosen for the ride. :o)

    Thanks so much for your thoughts (and the link to your folding bike... that's pretty cool!).

  3. This may be an obvious comment but I'll ask it anyway:

    Have you had a professional bike fitting? If there's a sports medicine clinic or physiotherapist you trust in your immediate area, ask them if they provide a bike fitting service. Most do, and because it's counted as physiotherapy, if your insurance covers physio, the fitting will be covered by your insurance.

  4. Cecily, nothing is ever obvious to me. :o) Usually the most straightforward answer is something that never even crosses my mind, so I always appreciate feedback (and often solicit it as my brain seems to work backwards at times).

    We've recently changed health insurance due to job changes for Sam this year (and unfortunately, it doesn't quite cover as extensively as our insurance in the past), but I'll have to look into that possibility. I know that in the past, bike fittings by "experts" haven't gone well for me, but I hadn't considered approaching it from the sports medicine/physiotherapy angle either. It might be a better way for someone to understand my pain areas and how to help me work with/through them. I don't know if it will be possible to complete prior to this ride, but it is certainly a good suggestion moving forward. Thanks!


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