14 January 2012

major minor adjustments

About a week ago, as Tren Way was riding with gggwqqquuuijjjjjjjjjjjjjjkor8dnjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj                                       jjjjjjjjo905tju66666666666666666666666666666666666666666666666665 l.

Sorry. Heidi Cat sat on the keyboard.

Where was I.... Last week, as we were scouting Borfo's cOld Pasadena Ride, my pal Stevo mentioned that my saddle might be a little high. The general rule of thumb is, when your foot is on the downstroke, your leg should be very slightly bent. But my legs hyperextend — when it felt like my legs were straight, in fact they were bowed slightly in the opposite direction. When it felt like my legs were a little bit bent, they were merely straight, & my lil legs didn't have the full amount of leverage at their disposal. Stevo suggested I lower my saddle just slightly, maybe half an inch.

I lowered it half an inch. My legs felt comically bent. So I raised it back up about 1/8 inch (for a net drop of 3/8 inch). I could tell immediately that I had greater leverage (my bike felt more maneuverable & also lighter). But I felt like I had less muscular strength to call upon. I found myself sliding back in my saddle to get that former amount of leg-stretch, because that's where my muscle-power was, which is kinda funny if you think about it. But I'm forcing myself to sit right, & my muscles are adjusting. It reminds me of some advice from a mechanic at BikeRoWave: If you don't adjust your bike to fit your body, your body will adjust to fit your bike. The mechanic meant it as a warning, but I feel that my body had already (badly) adjusted & that now it's in the process of adjusting in good ways. It feels like existing muscles are shifting to a different part of my legs. I'm not experiencing the soreness one gets from building new muscle. I'm experiencing old muscles figuring out where to go to access their power. It feels strange, but it's starting to feel really good.

All this got me to thinking. I know a fair amount about bikes — I'm not a mechanic by any stretch of the imagination, but I've been riding nearly every day for almost seven years. With the help of the mechanics at various co-ops, I've taken apart & re-assembled every bike I've ever owned, right down to the ball bearings. And I STILL missed the outward clues to a really obvious, major problem. This, while knowing full well about the hyperextension thing — it's considered beautiful in ballet, though it poses its own, different issues for dancers. A little critical distance can be good, to see what I'm too close to see. And it also got me to thinking about adjustments, in general. My seat post wasn't outrageously high for me, but a very small adjustment made a very big difference. It's one of the things I love best about bikes — every single time I ride is an opportunity to assess how things are going & to see what I can improve (in my bike or in my person). This is true of every sport, & ballet too (which is like a sport). But it's especially true with bikes, as there are so many variables to adjust. It's a linear sport — you're always moving forward. Figuratively, too.

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