Thursday, August 9, 2012

Numb Fingers from Rough Riding

The brace was a reminder to rest my wrist
The rain cast an ominous shadow over the treeline. The constant rumble of thunder was occasionally sliced by the crack of a lightning whip. I stood on my porch and watched the activity. Under normal circumstances any sane person would lock up the bike for the night but not me. I was not convinced that it would rain.

Allow me to explain this poor decision. I live near the intercoastal waterway, we have a constant offshore breeze as well as island cover from incoming storms. In order words, an odd collection of geographic coincidences make it so that most storms pass by us to the east or the west. This looked like one of those sideswipe storms so I decided to test the trails.

Move forward your seat to center your bodyweight
I took the bike out for a tempo ride, low gears at a high cadence. I started by going around the neighborhood, after almost 2 miles there was still no rain so I decided to move a little farther out. Diving into the San Casa trails I stayed at tempo all the way around the circle and back out. 5 miles had passed, averaging 14mph and still no rain. Might as well keep going.

I crossed the street into Cedar Point and hit all the trails, when I came out the other side I was at 7 miles and still no rain. In fact, the sky had begun to lighten up a little. The thunder subsided, the lightning was absent. Might as well keep going.

Ergonomic Grips might not look pretty but they work
I was so preoccupied by the weather, that I wasn't paying attention to something else that I had been feeling the whole time. All of this fast paced riding on bouncy trails was shaking my hands, wrists and arms with painful vigor. Unconsciously, I had been leaning heavily on the bars to maintain the tempo and ignoring the tingling warning sign that leads to numbness of the fingers.

After another 9 miles of riding, 2 more miles of which were off road, the storm caught up to me. This time there was no escape, we're talking about a full blown raging Florida downpour. The kind of rain and wind that pushes cars off the street. I saw the heavy rain on the water in Old Englewood and I sprinted to the pavilion at Indian Mound Park where I took cover.

Leaning my bike against a picnic table I sat down and watched as the cars cleared out of the parking lot and the heavens emptied themselves onto the earth. At first this was kind of fun. I love watching the Florida storms and when you are outside you can feel the crackle of the lighting while the thunder shakes the ground underneath you. For a while, this was exciting until I started getting cold.

The right air pressure can make a world of difference
After half an hour I was freezing and while the rain had slowed, it didn't stop. The last five miles getting home was painful, awkward and it was during that ride that the numbness in my fingers became pronounced. That was a rough ride, half of it off road, 5 miles of it in the rain and all of it at too fast a pace. My wrists were beat up and four of my fingers were completely numb.

Now to the solutions. I studied up on what causes this numbness and found out that it is the result of a few possibilities. One - bad seat position. I'm 5'10" riding a 19.5 inch Trek, that's a big bike and I was sitting too far back causing me to lean forward onto the bars putting pressure on my wrists. Two - constant shock. My tires had been filled to the max by the bike dealer but riding hard tires on the trails makes for a painful day. Three - bad grips. My Trek came equipped with Bontrager grips that were paper thin. I switched them up for Specialized Contour (Ergonomic) grips that are made of triple density rubber and they raise the wrists to avoid just this problem.

Now for the hardest part - Staying off the bike long enough to let my fingers heal. After one full day of rest, two of them are back to normal. The other two are being stubborn.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.