Author Topic: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?  (Read 6915 times)

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Offline Bahrain Wheels

Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« on: June 01, 2021, 01:40:37 pm »
Thank you for allowing me to join this group. I'm a UK expat living in the Middle East.

I bought a bike last year and want to set a big objective - crossing USA - Seattle to Norfolk. I'm pretty unfit just now and find that after an hour or so on rides, my neck gets very sore, my arms tighten and my hands go numb. Is this a result of bad posture position, gripping too tightly or an effect of cycling in 100F+ temperatures?

I'm going to do this trip solo & camping and wondered about how safe it was to do this, given the snakes & animals and the not so nice humans?

I'm expecting to do 4000 miles with 10 days sightseeing/rest and averaging 50 miles per day, so this leads me to think that the trip will take 3 months which seems a long time. Is this realistic for a 60+ overweight man?

My experience in Middle East is that traffic don't give any consideration to bikes so I hope USA is a bit more forgiving.


Offline John Nettles

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Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2021, 02:31:18 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums.  It sounds like you have a great trip planned.

Based on your post, I am assuming you are doing the TransAm (TA) Route or something very similar.  If you are not doing the TA, I would strongly suggest you consider that or another ACA route until you get a month or two of touring in the USA so you are comfortable with going independent.  Yes, 3 months is a very reasonable time.  You very well may start out slow, i.e. 30 miles per day, but within a few weeks your body will adjust, even if you are overweight and/or not as fit as you could be. I have met dozens and dozens of 60+ overweight riders over the years who all basically say the same thing, the first few weeks are a bit rough as the body adjusts but then it gets good.  Do not be surprised if you lose weight AFTER you body adjusts.  You may even gain weight initially as your body freaks out to this new routine and thinks it needs more calories. I almost always gain a few pounds on tours less than 2 weeks long and lose weight on tours over 5 weeks long.

I would guess about 40% of the riders on the TA (or most long tours) are solo riders.  The TA is a very good route and you will most likely not have problems with animals or humans.  Do not believe all you read about in the news.  Americans are just like everyone else in the world in that they want to raise their family, go to work/school, and live their lives without too much interference.  Unfortunately, that does not sell newspapers so they have to sell the stuff that is "news worthy".  Assuming you do not go looking for trouble, you will be fine.

As far as traffic goes, the USA is a fairly large country so drivers are different in various parts of the country but generally speaking, the drivers on the TA are overall OK. 

As far as body soreness, without seeing you riding and your body position, it is difficult to give a proper reply.  That said, it is normal for your body to have sores as you described until your body "toughens up" which can take a week or so of daily riding.  If you are in a "racing position" you could aggravate the symptoms you described so you might try a more upright position as that reduces the force on the arms and wrists and straightens the neck some.

Tailwinds, John

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2021, 04:30:31 pm »
John hit most of the high points.  ACA routes are usually well thought out, and the maps (or digital equivalent) can pay for themselves.  Northern Tier to Great Parks to TransAm will get you from near Seattle (Anacortes/Mt. Vernon) to near Norfolk (Yorktown); I did the reverse and it was a great trip.  (Even though I went from very to obese to just overweight during the ride.)  Try to stretch your route to go see Glacier National Park while you're in Montana, you'll be glad you did!

As far as critters, if there are bear boxes in a campground, use them.  Don't try to pick up a snapping turtles with long, skinny green necks.  And watch out for dogs in Kentucky.

A session with a good bike fitter can pay dividends.  Sore neck and numb hands may be an indication your bike doesn't fit you very well, or it might just be you're inflexible and you're grabbing the bars too tightly.

Offline zzzz

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2021, 04:39:53 pm »
RE: Traffic

If your benchmark for dealing with drivers is the middle east, let me assure you, nothing you see in the US will compare!

I spent 9 months living on a Kibbutz in Israel in 76/77, and unless things have changed remarkably in the meantime, standard driving behavior there was insane. And I was told that the driving in Syria, Jordon, and Egypt was worse! I still have flashbacks to the busses cutting the apex on every blind turn going up and down mountain roads.

In the US you have some bad and (most often) careless stuff happening but its nothing like what I saw back then.

Offline ray b

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2021, 12:11:51 am »
I'm always impressed by the quality if advice on this forum.

I'll second John's suggestion for a bike fitting, if you can find one. Another option is to find a physical therapist, and have them review video or a photos of you on the bike.  Although a lot of us over 60 have had pains at the beginning of tours, some of it might have been prevented by off the bike exercise and a little improvement in body mechanics and form prior to travel.

Go have some fun.
“A good man always knows his limitations.”

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2021, 08:57:03 am »
For years I did a lot of charity rides that were pretty much back to back century rides from 2 to 5 days with manned rest stops with snacks and beverages. I often had wrist and mostly shoulder problems with my arthritis. While the rest stops were spaced about 15 miles apart I ad not need to stop at every one but created what I called a "rolling rest stop". Basically I would drink, eat a small snack and do a series of stretches while coasting by every other, or even two, rest stops.

When we ride our mountain bikes all day on tour I do a 5 for 5 which is 5 minutes off the bike and stretch every 5 miles - mountain bikes are not designed to spend the day in the saddle. Also, try either raising one arm at a time or hang it loosely by your side and "shake it out" GENTLY - do this before your hands go numb. I find over time you will find the sweet spot between rider position and equipment adjustment. I always bring tools with me for minor adjustments because I find a few tweaks are required for my position as I transition from around town riding and short trips to a day in the saddle on a loaded bike.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2021, 11:25:44 pm »
When I first started riding longer distances (30-80 miles) my hands would get numb around the 25-30 miles mark.
After reading a bit on it, there is a belief that too much constant pressure on the two nerves in your hand - the ulna and median nerves - will cause your hand to get numb.

Someone recommended a glove with built up pads in the palm which leave a "channel" for those nerves and relieves that pressure to a large extent. I went with the Pearl Izumi Elite Gel glove and it REALLY helped the level of numbness I would experience.

(If you look at this glove on the Pearl Izumi website you can zoom in on the front of the glove and see the pads and the channels it provides . . .)

I recommend you give that a try, along with the bike fitting. Just the gloves with pads helped me immensely.

Good luck.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2021, 08:23:23 am by Rixtoy »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2021, 03:35:22 am »
I lived for years in Kuwait, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. I did not do any cycling there. Random traffic, in general in many instances, ranged between insane and criminal. That is not counting terrorists trying to run me down in the streets. Cycling would have made me an easy moving target. I mean, walking along a twenty-foot-wide sidewalk could have been lethal by way of motor vehicle. Of some 25 teachers at the ministry of defense in Kuwait, two were killed in traffic, and about 10 others were involved in "accidents" of varying degrees of severity. Most everyone reported extremely close calls. Donald Viner from Utah, Shaddy from Egypt, Moosa from India and I got smashed into in a car while we sat waiting for a red light. This was no light fender bender. The entire back of the car was smashed in all the way to the back seat. In Saudi our vehicles were deliberately run off the road numerous times by other vehicles. In Yemen snipers murdered 50 people near our school and wounded around 300. Much more happened than mentioned here.

When anyone says they are cycling in the middle east I do not know what to say. I am sure many people have done so without incident. As for myself, I would be worried about who might be driving up behind me. When things keep happening over and over and over, it means they will continue happening. Too many bad things kept happening. I doubt I would go cycling there.

No problems to report cycling through China and western Europe.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2021, 07:38:34 am »
Thank you for allowing me to join this group.
My experience ......
Glad you have joined us Bahrain.
Please send us updates of your trip progress if you find it practical to do so?
The probability is that you will find both traffic and weather more favorable
than that which you have experienced in the past.

Offline rayed

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2023, 03:23:24 pm »
How are you doing these days?

Offline Alessa3322

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #10 on: September 16, 2023, 01:03:33 pm »
I should say, this is a common problem. I know several people who faced it.
If your bike is well-fitted but you are still having pain, take a look at how you are holding the bars. Consciously relax your hands, soften your elbows and drop your shoulders, and try to avoid gripping the bars too tightly. Your wrists should be relaxed and not overly flexed or extended.
Fortunately, it can be solved and it is not that serious as cyclist syndrome, for example, that requires treatment. There are multiple routes of treatment including medical management comprised of medications (I already checked the info about them on the Canada Drugs site), invasive interventions such as surgery, injections, and neuro-modulation, as well as non-invasive or conservative therapy consisting of pelvic health physical therapy.
So, it is better to take care of your health and pay attention to all the needed details when cycling.
« Last Edit: September 19, 2023, 06:03:04 am by Alessa3322 »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Neck, arms and hands fatigue?
« Reply #11 on: September 16, 2023, 03:11:20 pm »
From my own experiences with this pain, just ride it out. The arms and hands will adapt and the pain will end, mostly. Keep taking hands off the bar and opening and closing. Not too sure about the neck. Hands, arms and back will adapt, but neck discomfort might persist. Get used to it.