I’m not normally one to have music just inanely playing in the background of my mind, but today during my bike ride this song kept popping into my head. I’m having a problem with my right hand going numb during the ride. I have experienced this numbness on several different occasions, but up until I bought my road bike I thought it was the way I was riding my MTB. It frustrates me that I am experiencing it once again, so my research for the day will be to try to come up with a solution. I saw my doctor about it last year, but her directions were to stop cycling. She sent me to a therapist as well, feeling that it was the nerves in my arm being affected – but their prognosis was that I must give up cycling as well.
My Mom always referred to me as a bull-headed Dutchman (no offense to those of you who are Dutch, men, or bull-headed). That being said, you can well imagine that I continue cycling even given the advice of experts. Why? Because I think they are wrong. I do believe the issue is how I am seated in the bike, or how I grip the handle bars, or even how I hold my body as I move. Although they fit my bike when I purchased it, I need to bring it back for tuning next week and will approach them about it. Until then, I am going to do the best I can to figure out a viable solution. I welcome any advice you have on the subject as well.
While out on my ride, as I was shifting my grip trying to find a position that didn’t cause the numbing, I was reminded of some training I had in ju jitsu. We used to work on hand strength and grip, as well as maneuvers with our hands on our opponents. The object was to slide your hands along theirs, or their arm (or leg, if you were grappling) in such a manner they didn’t feel threatened until it was too late. We would practice keeping in contact the entire time with our opponent, through various conditions, because losing ones grip when attacked could be a life or death situation. As I was adjusting my grip today on the bike, I was sliding along the handle bars – always in contact, even as I moved. It is a lot harder than it seems, just because I am finding that a road bike is a lot more responsive to my grip and hand movements than my MTB. The first couple of times I did that, I darn near ended up in a ditch, but as I become more comfortable with the bike I am more at ease to experiment. Adjusting my grip in such a manner, flowing along the handle bars, instead of manhandling the bike, makes me feel like I’m guiding the bike and we are on a journey together – instead of brutalizing it to submission. I have had a few times in the last week where I felt at one with the bike, rather than just getting mindless exercise. I can see why people love road biking so much – just today I did 15 miles in one hour. Certainly not “blow anyone out of the water” speed, but not too shabby for a girl. As I perfect my cadence and grip, I’m pretty sure I can increase my speed. It is a thrilling thought.
Am I wrong to doubt the doctors? Probably. However, I never felt a good answer to a problem is to stop your activity. I want a solution – merely giving up is not really in my make-up. In the interim, I’m thinking I need to bring my iPod with me on more rides. As much as I love Pink Floyd, it is a bit of a downer when you are pushing your limits.