I went on my first official ride yesterday! I know, I know… I’m way behind. During the ride I felt like I couldn’t find a comfortable position for my hands/wrists and also my bottom is sore today! I went for another short ride today with a decent sized hill and didn’t notice the issue with my hands/wrists but did notice my bottom… this will get better- right?!?!

42 Replies

Sexton, May 30, 2016 at 8:03 pm

It will get better. If you haven’t yet, get some help to make sure your bike is fit to you. Think about seats, invest in a good one. Don’t wear underwear. (The seams create saddle sores). There are creams like chamois butter that also help.


Alan_50501, May 30, 2016 at 8:43 pm

Also look into getting a pair of padded bike shorts


Marla Shifflett, May 31, 2016 at 12:16 am

I agree wholeheartedly with the two replies above. If you aren’t riding in padded shorts, be sure and get some. I think it takes about two weeks of riding to “toughen up” the old rear end. Two weeks of riding several times a week. If I miss a couple weeks riding, it’s like I’m starting over. :( I have a “favorite” bike seat, and unfortunately they don’t make it anymore. Your seat (saddle) can make a big difference. Different rear ends like different seats. My rear doesn’t like cushy seats. lol Now about the hands and wrists, yes, make sure your bike fits. Are you wearing biking gloves? They can help, too. If your bike fits you, remember to change hand positions often. Also, concentrate on not leaning on your hands/wrists. Relax your shoulders and relax your wrists and hold yourself up with your core body strength. Shake your arms out occasionally. Everyone’s hands/wrists become numb or sore from time to time. As I get more tired, I “lean” more and then I have problems. Good luck! See you in July!


BillSpriggs, May 31, 2016 at 9:35 am

Megan, I’ve got to agree with the previous responses, you need good shorts, in fact you need at least 4 pair of good shorts for RAGBRAI. You need to ride at least 4 or 5 days a week, the more the better. It’s all about miles and time on the saddle. Try adding a couple of miles to you rides every few days. It takes a few days to get you butt in shape, the first few days it feels like you are leaving your skin behind when you get off the saddle. Don’t worry about how fast you ride, just do the miles.


Nico ZZZ, May 31, 2016 at 11:34 am

Of course bike fit is a good starting place. There are countless diagrams and explanations and videos showing you how to do it yourself or you can go to your LBS and pay for assistance.
Arm and hand shakeouts help throughout the ride. Modify hand placement,keep the elbows bent a bit so you do not tighten up.
New saddle was a huge upgrade in cycling comfort for me. I bought an Adamo ism Typhoon and the comfort level increased immediately.
Bike shorts and butt-butter are a must! There are forums with the topic just reviewing all the butt-butter options. Fascinating reading!
Work on your core strength. I have over the last year and back and arm fatigue is a thing of the past. Cycling is not just the legs as many have pointed out. To keep the legs loos and avoid fatigue, keep your cadence up. Easier gear with faster cadence helps. Countless website discussions are dedicated to this as well.
And, Ragbrai is a bunch of one hour rides broken up by burgers, pulled pork sammiches, beer, a nap under the maple of the town square. There is no hurry to get to the next overnight town, so take it as it comes.
Ride On!


jlisk, May 31, 2016 at 3:41 pm

There are also different widths of seats, and seats designed for the type of bike you have. So if you have a forward leaning race bike, vs. a hybrid bike, there are different seat/saddle widths and shapes. Padded shorts are a good investment. you can also play with the angle of your handle bars, and angle of your seat relatively easily. If you feel too much pressure on the front of your seat area, then maybe tilt the seat down a bit, and vice versa. Minor adjustments can make a BIG difference! Good luck!


jwsknk, May 31, 2016 at 4:27 pm

not a hard and fast rules but the saddle should be level nose to tail and level with the handle bars. But that second one changes for racing the bars are lower, Hybrid higher and closer for a more upright position. Knees should never get fully extended, a slight bend at the bottom of the stroke so your hips don’t rock, they should stay pretty steady. Should keep slight bend in elbows too. both with help absorb shocks from the road. And no death grip on the bars, if your knuckles are turning white relax the grip.


Megandoty, May 31, 2016 at 10:45 pm

Thanks so much for all the tips everyone!! I do have padded shorts, but only 1 pair, so I need to get more. I would like to get biking gloves. I have another longer ride planned tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes! :)


KenH, June 1, 2016 at 2:16 pm

If you continue to have hand and wrist trouble let us know what kind of bike you ride and most particularly what kind of handlebars your bike has. Users of the same kind of handlebars may have more specific advice they can share. Most everyone on RAGBRAI is riding a road bike with drop handlebars but some of us are exceptions!


Megandoty, June 2, 2016 at 2:38 am

I have a Trek Lexa SL.

Today I went to a meeting in a neighboring town and biked to it. I had headwinds the whole way. The meeting was a couple hours long and …yep, you guessed it! Headwinds on the way back home, too! Well it felt like it anyways… haha

So, I don’t have clip-in pedals/shoes. I’m thinking I need new shoes but maybe its because of something I’m doing… the balls of my feet started to hurt during the ride. I’m considering getting the clip-in style. My Aunt told me once you use them, you won’t want to go back.

One more thing… people driving can be scary! I had someone pass me today and if I would have put my arm out just a little bit I would have been touching their car! Then someone passed me quickly when another car was coming towards me… I had visions of a head-on right infront of me. I ride on the white line or close to it. I definitely prefer the people that pass all the way in the opposite lane.


“Bicycle Bill”, June 2, 2016 at 3:14 am

Megan, regardless of where you live I would strongly suggest you look into becoming a member of the League of American Bicyclists.  This is the national organization dedicated to preserving your right to ride on the road — including supporting such things as a three-foot zone when passing, the idea that a bicycle *


* a vehicle and as such is entitled to its share of the road, and consideration of bicycles and other non-motorized means of transportation when new roads are constructed or older roads are re-engineered.  They are also working hard to mturn these into a national standard rather than the current way of doing things, which is more like a patchwork quilt, so that one does not have to worry about learning a whole new set of rules of the road if one crosses a state border.

And then, depending on what state you do live in, I would recommend joining that state’s bicycle federation/foundation/whatever.  They work towards much the same ends as does the National League, but on a more local level.

Lastly, look for a local (city/county) bicycle organization and look into becoming a member as well.  Most clubs/organizations on the local level are apt to be more into hosting rides and other events where you can get used to riding in groups — a skill that is definitely required on RAGBRAI.

While the first two may not seem to do as much for you in terms of making you ready for RAGBRAI, it is because of their actions to date that you can still ride on the road instead of being shunted off like a second-class citizen to some dirt sidepath.  So even if you were *NOT* going to do RAGBRAI, but just wanted to ride for pleasure, recreation, or fitness, these groups are still watching your back and doing their damnedest to beat back the “bikes don’t belong” contingent.



mootsman, June 2, 2016 at 7:30 am

Without knowing your bike and how it fits you adivece on the internet is of limited value.

Go to a quality local bike shop (they’ll sponsor a racing team and likely have a fit kit for adjusting your bike). Tell them the specific areas you are getting sore and don’t be shy. Some things they may suggest are women specific saddles, changes in handle bars and head stem lengths/rise, etcs… Don’t cheap out on the sorts either. You don’t need 4 pair, 2 will do if you rinse them out well in the shower every day. Since the bottoms of you feet hurt the shoes and pedals will be a good thing. The hard soles of a cycling shoe aren’t walk friendly but are both comfortable on the bike and efficient for pedaling. Make sure the bike shop doesn’t unload some unpopular shoe on you that is too big or too small. Too big and you will have a tough time getting out of the pedals. Pain in the arms, shoulders and wrists can be fit but also can be the muscles adjusting to holding your head in the riding position for hours on end. It takes 6 weeks of regular riding for your muscles to adapt to that. Butt pain can also be riding position if you are too upright on the bike but the shop will tell you… Track down that quality local bike shop.


mootsman, June 2, 2016 at 7:41 am

And to prevent saddle sores put on some sport anti-bacterial creme or chamois butter (on you, not the padding in the shorts) before each ride. Saddle sores can be very tough to deal with on a week long ride. The bike shop will have some.


jwsknk, June 2, 2016 at 7:51 am

you can get bike sandals or shoes and not put the clips on yet if you don’t want to. Just the stiffer sole will help spread the contact pressure.


Nico ZZZ, June 2, 2016 at 8:10 am

Regarding saddle sores: If you find yourself with a “tender spot” after a ride I recommend diaper rash medication. I used it after that rainy Friday of Ragbrai 2014 after a full day of riding with a wet sponge against my undercarriage. Saturday morning I awoke repaired and ready for that final day ride in the Iowa Alps.
Ride On!


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