Trainer Test #2 and Biker’s Backache

I'm losing it!

I did my weekly trainer test the other night despite the sore legs from my mountain bike spill on Sunday.  This week I did 4.27 miles in 10 minutes, a 25.5 average.  Last week I did 3.91 miles, a 23.4 average.  Before I start patting myself on the back I should disclose I made a slight change to the test.  I used the “Angles” Sufferfest video, (ed note: The author is not connected to the “The Sufferfest” in anyway, he just really likes their videos, if “The sufferfest reads this and wants to start sending me free videos I’ll glad shill even more for your product) I did about 15 minutes of intervals then the 10 minute test.  Last week I did 6 minutes of high cadence warmup spinning and then did the test.  The longer warmup with intervals made the difference, the fluid in my trainer could have been warmed up too.  Next weeks test will tell the real tale.

I wrote about the back pain I usually get when I mountain bike ride in November.  I wrote a week later that I had fixed it.  I was wrong.  On all of the mountain bike rides I’ve done lately I’ve experienced pain.  This article describes what is going on pretty well.

It generally starts when I’m pushing hard up a hill, later in the ride it can strike any time.  There are two ways I can treat it on the ride.  One is to stop and stretch, usually in a few minutes the pain is gone and will stay gone for awhile.  The other way is to stand, put my weight on my hands and arch my back, this will ease the pain long enough for me to keep going but doesn’t do much else.

Lets break down some common causes of biking backpain.

Bikefit: this could be my problem.  I could be riding bikes that are two big, other articles say I could be on bikes too small? but I’m skeptical that is really the problem.  When you look at modern mountain bike geometry the big change in frame size is standover height.  For example the frame I just bought is a Bandersnatch 20″ the difference from the 18″ in ETT (Effective Top Tube or how long the bike is) is 8mm.  Really 8mm is not going to cause me back pain.  I could probably ride the 18 but I’d have alot more seatpost out.  Frame sizes are more about how much standover height you have and seatpost sticking out.

Now what could make a difference is the vertical position of my handlebars, I’m going to experiment with a taller handlebar position to raise the angle of my back and hopefully take stress off of it.  I’m hopeful that the taller front end of the 29er will help with that.

The pack:  Most of the guys I ride with carry 20 pound backpacks with enough parts to rebuild their bikes,  I don’t; mine is light and only a few pounds full.

Riding Style:  I know the pain generally starts when I feel my back is doing alot of the work pedaling.  Its like I’m somehow using my back to lift the pedal around the stroke, I need to get into lower gears and spin more, but honestly I can’t go any lower most of the time.

Muscles:  This could be a big part.  My flexibility is terrible and I haven’t been working on it like I should.  Tight hamstrings can put more pressure on your back.  I’ve been doing some core work in the gym but I think it may be the wrong kind.  I dead lift on a regular basis, but I should be doing a more well rounded routine, more abdominals.

Fatigue:  Usually the pain flairs up when I’m a ways into the ride, I can feel my muscles weakening and my pedal stroke gets sloppy.  If I’m by myself I can get off my bike, stretch and relax.  If I’m with a group I need to keep moving.

In November I did some serious stretching, but I’ve almost completely quit.  I’m almost certain it was helping.  Need to get back on it.  Also hoping to try some new positions with the Bandersnatch.  I just spent way too much money to for parts.  I like Jenson, they have just about everything and they had some very good 29er wheelsets for much less then everyone else.

About Matt Gholson

Cycling, school teaching, husband.
This entry was posted in Bikes and components, Mountain BIking, training and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Trainer Test #2 and Biker’s Backache

  1. Steve says:

    Sorry to hear about the back problems. That will put a damper on things quickly, won’t it? Clearly, the lack of stretching before a serious physical activity can’t be helped by a lack of stretching. That sounds like something easy to address, too. Here’s hoping you find the solution, whatever the cause!

  2. I’d be thinking core mate. I have a permanently bad back through playing rugby and 12 years in the military, doing planks and other core stuff keeps the pain in check.

    But we’re all different though…

  3. Matt Gholson says:

    Thanks I’m going to crank up the core along with try a more relaxed position. Stretching is one of those things I’ve got to work on, but for some reason don’t.

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