Question: My 13-year-old son is mad-keen on road and track racing, and is quite successful so far. He loves it! He avidly reads all your articles, plus our subscription to Australian Bicycling magazine. However, we haven’t yet found accurate advice on position of the head/neck/shoulders while riding.
What’s the correct position for these areas? I don’t want him to be hurting from back problems either now or later in his career. — Keith Z.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Congratulations on your son’s success and enthusiasm!
I hope he continues to enjoy cycling, as well as other sports. Youngsters need to experience everything.
Head and neck position is determined by overall position on the bike. If bike fit is good, the head will be in the optimum position to see up the road, and undue neck stress will be avoided.
If position is poor — for instance, the common racer problem of having the handlebar too low in relation to the saddle — the neck will get strained. When it has to be craned upward to let you see ahead, there’s likely to be pain and premature fatigue on long rides.
Assuming your son’s position is good, he should still remember to relax his neck, shoulders and facial muscles. Some riders hunch their shoulders toward their ears as they ride. This creates unnecessary muscle tension that detracts from power and efficiency.