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Messages - Smudgy

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I have shoulder, neck and upper back pain sometimes. My situation is probably totally different from yours, but here goes. I have a disc issue in my lower neck, an old sports injury. It puts pressure on a nerve that effects my left arm and shoulder. It became so painful, I almost had to stop riding. I went to a chiropractor and he said I needed to change my riding position. When the head is out in front of the shoulders it puts stress on the neck. A normal healthy neck, no problem, but my neck is a problem. I adopted a more upright riding position. I ride with my head over my shoulders. This puts less strain on the neck muscles. Therefore less pain in my arm and shoulder. In addition, I was riding with very bad position. I'm not a trained cyclist. I had my hands wide apart, arms straight with shoulders shrugged. I found out this causes my arms, shoulders and neck to act as a shock absorber, transferring every bump directly to my spine. I now ride with narrow hands, arms bent and low shoulders. This puts almost no weight on my hands and I'm not a human shock absorber any more. I also have no more hand pain or numbness. BTW, numbness in the hands can sometimes be from a problem in the neck, not the hands. Of course the upright riding position is less efficient and I probably ride slower, but I'm old and I was never built for speed anyway. The added benefit of a more upright position is that I can see my surroundings better. For years I rode all hunched over and mostly saw the road 3 feet in front of my wheel.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Illinois Gravel Ride (video)
« on: February 18, 2021, 10:00:08 pm »
Paul -

Thanks for posting another great video. My wife and I have watched many of your YouTube videos of rides and those videos have helped get her onboard with a TransAm ride. Your calm, sensible approach to touring has given her confidence that you do not need to be a 30 something and turn out back-to-back centuries to ride across the US.

Thank you!

Thanks for watching! I love bike touring, but I think it's because there might be something wrong with me. Just kidding, but maybe not? Anyways, I find bike touring to be hard and uncomfortable at times, it's not all sunshine and tailwinds :). But there are ways to make it less painful and there's no reason to make it more painful. Make sure both bike and rider are in good condition before setting out. I ride slow and take lots of breaks. I don't mind big hills, but I don't race up them, I take my time. But I was never built for speed anyways. These days, my biggest concern when out touring is probably the heat. I try to get started as early as possible, ride in the cool part of the day, drink lots of water, take my time and don't burn out my legs early in the day. When I was younger, I almost never took rest days. I couldn't stay in one spot for 2 days in a row. Now that I'm older and I don't recover as quickly as I used to, I usually take a day off after 4 or 5 days of riding. Sometimes more, sometimes less, no hard fast rule, just gotta read your own body. Sometimes instead of a day off, I'll take 2 short days in a row.  Even though bike touring is hard, it is very rewarding for me. After a tour, my body feels like superman... for about a week, and then it's back to plain old Clark Kent. Thanks again, enjoy! If you ride through Carbondale, look me up.

General Discussion / Re: Southern Illinois Gravel Ride (video)
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:55:29 pm »
Thank you for posting your video.  I very much enjoyed watching it.  As I was watching, I kept thinking, "How did he get that shot?"  "He must have spent a lot of time prepping the shots...".  I fear you're raising the bar too high!!
Thanks for watching, I appreciate it! I've been touring since the early '80's and in my early tours, I didn't even bring a camera. Video is a relatively new hobby for me. During the pandemic, instead of touring, I spent most of my time (and money) on my new video hobby (semi-addiction). So I poured a whole  summers worth of pent up energy that would normally go toward long distance bike touring into a 3 day video.  Since the route is so close to home (due to the pandemic) I know the roads very well. I knew what to look for and I was able to pre-plan some things. And, yes, my wife did help out with some of the drone shots, probably many of the ones where you were thinking, "how did he get that shot?"  On a tour in an area that I have never been and pass by once quickly, it's easy to miss stuff. On this trip, I tried to showcase all of the coolest stuff that I knew of along the way.
Thanks again!!

General Discussion / Re: Southern Illinois Gravel Ride (video)
« on: February 17, 2021, 10:35:38 pm »
Paul, nice video.  Make you want to do gravel, maybe  ;) .  Sure is a lot prettier than I found southern Illinois to be.  Just shows gravel has some definitely pluses.

Tailwinds, John

John, if you are ever riding through southern Illinois again, look me up. I will take you to some of the best places on the forest. I know the Shawnee forest pretty well and in my video I tried to showcase the coolest places along the way. True, I tried to shy away from the less interesting stuff.  It's not vast and spectacular like the Rockies or the Cascades (not even close) so sometimes the charm of the area is overlooked. But for Illinois, this is our Rocky mts. ;).  The ACA route across so. Ill. takes you past some cool places, but not through them, if you know what I mean. And there are some very boring routes, too. I read a journal on crazy guy about a guy than saved a lot of time riding across so. Ill. by taking Rt. 13, a straight, level modern highway across the entire state. I thought, "he missed everything cool about so. Ill.". My gravel route is slow, gritty, and hilly for no reason. Only someone looking to get way off the beaten path and punish themselves would take this route.  ;D.
My wife and I have both done some research in the forest and she once worked for the Forest Service. It's a little known secret that there are a few "sacrificial" areas in the forest where everyone goes, and these places get trampled by the crowds. But then there are dozens of other out of the way places that most people don't even know about. That's where the locals go. And most of the time, you have the place to yourself. That's what I meant when I said in the video that the Shawnee forest is the best kept secret in Illinois.  Thanks for watching my video and taking the time to comment. I appreciate it.
Happy trails my friend, and tailwinds to you as well.

General Discussion / Southern Illinois Gravel Ride (video)
« on: February 15, 2021, 03:27:47 pm »
This was my only "long" bike ride in 2020, 3 days. I rode from Grand Tower, Illinois on the Mississippi River to Cave in Rock, Illinois on the Ohio River. I tried to stay socially distant from everyone by staying on mostly gravel roads.  ;) I hope to get out and ride this summer, but for now this is all I've got.

General Discussion / Re: What are the top 3 things we like about touring?
« on: December 17, 2020, 01:31:43 pm »
The top 3 things I like about bike touring? Easy....


I'll add that the people in Kansas were amazingly hospitable.

+1 I agree. One of the highlights of the plains are the people. Worth riding for that reason alone.

Did you know of the ferry that crosses Lake Michigan from Manitowoc, Wi to Ludington, Mi ? If you didn't want to go through the Upper Peninsula (U.P. , eh) because it's to far north and avoid the mess called Chicago (I used to live there) at the south end of the Lake, the ferry is not a bad option. I've taken it twice on bicycle and once on motorcycle.

Nebraska & Iowa are just so much better for crossing the Great Plains.

Pic - Nebraska Sandhills

I crossed Nebraska twice, I love the Sandhills. BTW, Iowa is not flat. Constant rolling hills.

Have you ridden the Northern Tier across Montana?  How does it compare to Kansas?  I enjoyed it.
I rode the Lewis and Clark in 2004. one of my favorite sections was from Williston, ND to Havre, Mt, then southwest to Great Falls. It felt like the movie Lonesome Dove following the Milk River valley. The scenery is very similar to Kansas. I especially like all of the small western towns along the plains, they're hard working ranching towns.

I enjoyed the video but after sharing it with my touring friends the consensus is never Kansas.

Never Kansas? Whaaat? You don't know what you're missing, or maybe you do. Driving a car or taking a bus across Kansas is truly torture, riding across on a bike is totally different. It's way harder! I agree with hikerjer and Willa Cather and I did fall in love with the prairie. I didn't always see it that way. So, I also agree that there are many more scenic places to ride. One question though, how does one get across the USA without going through Kansas or one of the other plains state? ??? 

In 2019, I rode a section of the TransAmerica Bike Trail from Pueblo, Colorado to Carbondale, Illinois. I made a video. A biker I met called it the dreaded middle third. He said it is because that is where most people quit. Kansas is too long, too hot, too windy and too boring. Maybe so, but I love the open spaces and small western towns on the high plains. In contrast the roads in the Missouri Ozarks are hilly and twisty. 3 or 4 days of hill after hill with 8-12% grades, most less than 2 miles. If not the hills, the scenery will take your breath away. Check it out.

General Discussion / Erie Canal Bike Tour. A great 5 day ride.
« on: January 26, 2020, 11:02:34 pm »
The Erie Canal Bike trail is a great 5 day ride from Buffalo to Albany, New York. This was my 3rd short bike tour of the summer of 2019. I made a video, I hope you like it. Please leave a comment if you do. See my other 2 videos: Natchez Trace Parkway and Ohio to Erie Trail.

Thanks to you all for watching and taking the time to comment. Sharing the trip with everyone is almost as much fun as the trip itself. Its not a professional video, but I'm glad you like it. My main goal is to promote bike touring and motivate people to get out and ride. I'm also glad you watched my other videos. Lake Michigan is a national treasure for sure. I must say though, the best beaches are south of Ludington. My favorite is PJ Hoffmaster.  New video coming out soon. Erie canal in NY. This coming summer, maybe the Pacific Coast Highway? Hope to see you on the road!!

General Discussion / Re: It's about the bike. It's about you.
« on: January 15, 2020, 08:43:16 pm »
I solo tour as well and so I have a lot of time to think. I sometimes marvel at my bike while riding. What an elegant machine, simple yet so well designed. Just chunks of metal welded together but converting power into motion allowing me to travel under my own power to just about anywhere. The bicycle has to be one of the coolest machines ever invented! 

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