What’s old is new again.
For a host of brutally obvious reasons, I’ve been thinking a lot about what avenues one takes to get their groove back, so when I began penning today’s post, I opted to use a reference of the film that chronicled a woman named Stella’s pursuit for said component of being.
Naturally, because I apparently am incapable of any longer having original thoughts, I already did this in 2015. Of course back then, I had no earthly idea of how obliterated my grove would eventually become, but that’s neither here nor there.
The point is, one loses their groves in a host of ways. Physical injury was mine back then, and emotional injury is mine now, though there still remain residual hints of trepidation from that knee injury six years ago. Compounding that, from years of skating (or rather slamming), riding rigid bikes, and manual labor, I have a pretty spectacularly blown out set of wrists. I can say with some degree of certainty that over the last decade or more, I’ve gone on a small handful of bike rides during which my left wrist wasn’t transmitting pain signals with every bump both big and small. When you’re in pain, you aren’t focused on what you’re doing, and when you’re not focused on what you’re doing, you have the very real potential to suffer further injury.
For about six years, I’ve entertained the idea of purchasing a new handlebar for my mountain bike. I presumed that a little more sweep and a wee bit of rise might be just what the doctor ordered. Of course I didn’t know this for certain, and because a nice carbon handlebar is $200 gamble I never wanted to make, I just continued to ride my bike, and invested what little additional money I did have into topical pain relieving creams, neoprene wrist wraps, and miniatures to lose out of the back of my little RC truck;
Anyway, last week I stopped into my LBS to investigate whether they had any very specific Shimano brake pads I’m always on the hunt for, but then got sidetracked by the handlebars. Shop maven, Riley did me the kindness of looking through a number of bars that they both had in stock, as well as could potentially order for me. Ultimately I settled on a brand called Tag Metals (which to be honest, because I don’t pay attention to anything, I’d never heard of before);
Well, I got to throwing those wide dogs on, and have since given them a couple of proper rogerings;
It occurred to me as I was on yet another ride with some folks on Sunday that really, for the most part I haven’t written with groups of people, and certainly not groups of people with whom I’d previously not ridden in about thirteen years. While I was wholly aware of that particular fact, until I was neck deep in one of the longest fire road climbs I’ve seen in some time and had some time to ponder the mystery of life, I realized it was because I was never sure how my wrists would feel from one day to the next. My left one is most definitely the worst of the two, and came just days after a collision with a giant blond guy who was coming in hot around a corner that I happened to be occupying at the same time. The tip of his left handlebar clipped the end of mine with such force, if left me spinning in mid air in a bike riding position, while my bike was completely knocked from beneath me.
While I’m sure it was a hilarious sight, for whatever reason, and despite thousands of dollars in prolotherapy, acupuncture, smudging, laser treatments, massage, and so on and so forth in the years since, it’s just never been the same.
I’ve either just waited for a window when it feels good enough, or in a pinch, (which I’d prefer not to do), taken some anti-inflammatories to carry me through the day’s riding.
While these bars aren’t a magic bullet, they have provided me with an incredible degree of relief, and for that I’m extremely grateful.
I don’t know how many folks who are reading these words might be plagued with chronic wrist issues, but new bars are certainly an avenue worthy of exploration.
And speaking of the aforementioned fire road grind- A gaggle of Hodalas (Hodalans? I’m not sure what the plural is) brought me along for a gravel adventure the other day, and it was a perfectly spectacular experience;
I don’t want to be greedy, but I wish for so many more days like these for you, and me, and all of us.
Finally, I would like to make a musical recommendation. I’m sure those of our ilk might have recalled my repeated gushing for a band called Planes Mistaken For Stars, or maybe even when a couple of years ago, I accidentally happened across one of their live performances while bounding through Bloomington, Illinois;
(As a matter of fact, if you feel so inclined to re-read that post I just linked, please do. There’s something about it that feels oddly reassuring to me at this juncture in our collective history. Maybe it’s just me and I’m imagining things, or maybe it might just serve a greater purpose.)
Anyway, as for the band, I have been revisiting their album ‘Mercy‘ with a great deal of frequency recently;
It’s one of those records that packs a punch the first time you listen to it, and you might love it more, (likely) or you might love it less (doubtful) as the years go by, but you never hear it the same way twice.
And sometimes a record like this acts as a musical accompaniment that was seemingly written specifically for this particular stage in one’s existence. It gives you purpose, and it gives you drive, while perhaps answering questions you’ve not yet dared to ask of yourself.
The adage goes that music can tame the savage beast. Perhaps it can do that while at the same time offering said beast at least a brief glimpse of what may again one day be the return of their groove.
Ergon grips for the win! I run those too.
I am definitely a proponent of more sweep. (And more rise – mostly because I’m tall AF and need more stack than I can get normally.)
All you youngsters reading this – love your wrists while you can. Wrists and knees seem to age more than anything else on the body.
I moved to wide bars (800mm Raceface Atlas; 35mm rise) nearly eight years ago. I can ride all day without any discomfort despite banging up my wrists a plenty in my skateboarding daze. Like everything new, I heard every excuse under the sun as to why I did not need them and there are still plenty of naysayers. I have zero desire to go back and now 780mm bars are as narrow as I will go even though they still feel weird. On the “you don’t know what you don’t know” tip I have heard high praise for Rev-grips and I have a friend trying them now. I may grab some despite my adoration for the ridiculously comfortable and bargain PNW Loam grips.
The magic number is 30-35 degrees of backsweep. Your wrists will love it, take it from a 42 year old arthritis sufferer. Guster stasche and Richey kyote are a couple options. Stay awesome, love that you’re doing better!
I had a problem with my cranks.. they were just too long.. so I shortened them to about one inch each..I feel so much better now, but just can’t climb like the old days..I also found that by putting a slice of ham in each of my shoes I feel funny.