Question: I suffer from numb hands. I’ve tried gel gloves and had my riding position checked, but there’s been no improvement. I think it’s from the way I hold my hands on the bar — usually grasping the brake hoods. Any suggestions? — Hank P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Keeping hands in one position for long periods is a sure recipe for tingly fingers. So, my first suggestion is to change your grip frequently. Hold onto the brake hoods, then move back to the bends (as described below), then onto the tops as if you were climbing, and finally down to the drops. Then repeat the sequence.
Also, use chances to move your hands in response to the terrain and other conditions. If the road is flat and straight, develop the habit of changing your grip every minute or two.
Here’s a hand position advocated by seven-time Tour de France rider Ron Kiefel, who now operates Wheat Ridge Cyclery in Denver.
Ron likes to lay his hands on the curve of the handlebar behind the brake hoods. The base of each index finger is near the hood but not quite touching. His thumb goes inside the bar and rests near the base of the brake hood. His index and middle fingers wrap around thebar under the brake hoods. His ring and little fingers wrap around the bar behind the brake hoods.
Got that? This position puts the underside of all knuckles in contact with the handlebar. The idea is to have weight borne by the bony part of the palm. The wrist should be in a straight “handshake” position. Using this grip, most of the nerve compression that causes numb hands will be alleviated. Try it to see if it helps you.