Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Adventures with the bike trainer

I detailed a few posts ago about how finagled my way into a free bike. One would conclude that since then, I have ‘literally’ ridden off into the sunset with my new found love to the tune of ‘happily ever after.”

Well… not so much.

Here is the thing. In addition to the bike, I purchased a bike trainer which is a nifty contraption that attaches to my rear tire allowing me to ride the bike indoors. It creates resistance on the back tire through magic allowing me simulate what it would feel like riding the bike outdoors, without actually having to be on the road.

You can see it in this picture...

There are numerous benefits to these indoor trainers. One of these benefits is the ability to target specific heart rate zones much easier since I don’t have to deal with things like stop signs or uphill and downhill sections of the road. Another benefit is that I don’t have to worry about being hit by a car, being rained or snowed on, or being ‘somethings’ dinner. But the best thing about the indoor trainer is the ability to park it in front of the TV and crank out the miles, all while being mentally distracted by whatever is on the tube.

There are a few downfalls though.

Actually, only one to name of so far, but it’s a big one.

and there is no real easy or elequent way to say this so…

I'll just say it…

After riding for about 20 minutes or so on the trainer, I lose feeling in the baby maker.

Let me reiterate. I go completely numb. No feeling. At all.

It is the exact feeling you get after you sit on your foot for like 45 minutes, then you get up and try to walk and you can’t because it doesn’t feel like you have a foot anymore? Then for the next 5 minutes you slowly regain feeling through a painful process that feels like thousands of needles endlessly poking you?

That’s what happens to me… except, I only wish it happened in my foot instead of in my… (sigh).

This is now the second 'baby maker' scenario-issue in the last year. You all remember this post don't you?

Now I've had the bike for almost 4 months and never really noticed anything even remotely close to this while riding on the road. I assume this is because when riding outside, I often stand up to pedal uphill which I assume, promotes blood flow throughout the body negating the possibility of numbness.

When I ride on the trainer, it is strictly in the aero position in an effort to train my body to be able to handle that position for multiple hour rides. As a result, I'm not standing to go uphill or adjusting my body position throughout a ride like I would outside. I'm sitting the entire time.

And unfortunately, all feeling is lost.

This worries me a little… actually, a lot.

So much so that it led me ask about it on hugely popular triathlon specific website called Slowtwitch. They have a “forum” section where people can ask questions, start discussions, etc.

Being relatively new to the sport I thought who better to ask than the people that have been riding their bikes for years.

Here is the question I posed to the Slowtwitch world and a few of the responses:

Sep 27, 10 6:14
Post #1 of 14 (414 views)

Hello all...
My crotch is going completely numb after riding on the bike trainer for at least 30 minutes. Generally happens while I’m in the aero position. Anyone else ever have this issue?

Sep 27, 10 6:25
Post #2 of 14 (407 views)

Try a different saddle like an Adamo or Cobb. Pretty common issue usually resolved with a better saddle.

Hearing the words “common issue” brought some relief!

Then, there was David’s response…

Sep 27, 10 6:29
Post #4 of 14 (402 views)

Well, you need to be set up and fit properly. Also, the trainer can accentuate any problems because you usually don't move around, stand, etc, as much as you do on the road. Here is how I set up my saddle, based on a little help I got from Tinley 22 years or so ago when this aero thing 1st started: 1st, make sure you have a decent overall position and your seat is the right height - you are then 90% of the way to comfort. I rode a regular old Flite saddle, and had since they 1st came out ( recently switched to Arione). Take a level and measure from the nose about 5 inches back - this is the part of the saddle that you want level. Now, skew the saddle about .5 cm or 1/2 the width of the nose to the side away from your "hang." Now, when riding in the aero position, your "taint" lays to the side of the saddle instead of right on it. Rotate your hips a little forward and make sure your arms aren't too far stretched out. This has worked for me and I hope it helps you.

Wow… thanks David. Although that was a little gross, I could see the point he was trying to make. I have to be sitting on a nerve that is cutting off blood flow and I need to adjust the seat to un-restrict that flow.

(Also, side note… I've learned in the last 2 months that cyclists are the most brutally honest people on the face of the earth.)

Then 'lwood' wraps up our discussion by scaring the buh-jeezus out of me again.

Sep 27, 10 9:25
Post #9 of 14 (294 views)

You've gotten some good advice. I'll only add: Don't live with it. Find a solution. It could lead to a serious problem.

I didn’t post every response because most of them were telling me that I need to get a new saddle (seat) which would damage the wallet to the tune of $100-$200… (which I guess is better than a damaged… never mind)

Now, this whole time I had kept the wife in the dark about my “issue” fearing she would respond with some type of confused look, followed by laughter, followed by name calling, followed by mass-texting my family and friends, followed by me crying.

When I finally did bring it up, I tried to do it casually, trying to skirt the issue, hoping she wouldn’t probe and dig for the real problem. That conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey honey, I'm thinking about getting a new seat for my bike.
Wife: Why do you need a new seat?
Me: Ummm, they have some really cool ones out there.
Wife: How much are they?
Me: $100-$200
Wife: You want to spend $200 on a cool seat?
Me: Yes
Wife: Why?

Long Pause...

Me: Ummm… I kind of go numb ‘down there’ when I ride it.
Wife: (Confused look) You what?
Me: I go numb down there when I ride my bike longer than 20-30 minutes.
Wife: (Processing and pondering response)
Wife: (Holding back laughter)
Me: (Dropping my head in shame)
Wife: (Literally laughing out loud) Can I call you ‘numb nuts’?
Me: (Walking out of the room) No.

So, with the special little exchange out of the way I was back to figuring out how fix my bike… or fix me… or both, so I could actually ride it for longer than 20 minutes.

That resolution I will cover in the next post… this one is getting too long and it's time for me to go cry.

Until next time…

Move Forward


  1. That is hysterical.... Sorry for your pain.

  2. Hysterical. Go for the new saddle. I had the same problem on my bike. Sprung $100 for a new Specialized saddle (Specialized dealers have a neat saddle fitting system that involved measuring your sit bones on a gel pad). Instant relief. Two weeks after buying it I rode my first century without any trouble.

    Good luck!

  3. I'm jealous that my trainer doesn't work with magic!! That was a dynamite line...i laughed so f'ing hard!! Thanks man

  4. I love CLYDESDALES! Although I don't race in that division anymore (but I'm still 215lbs) I always scan the start lists and wander over to say hi to my fellow large brethren.

    There is "some" useful info on ST but careful, everyone there thinks they are a pro and know what is best for you.

    Find a certified F.I.S.T. or Retul fitter and pay the $$ to have a real fit. There are so many areas that they look at from the cleat pedal placement to the nose angle of your saddle, to elbow angle while in aero. I get a new fit every year. Do it!

    I ride A LOT! Alone and with groups. Nothing says, "steer clear of me because I have no ability to handle a bicycle," like reflectors on your wheels. You may as well put a milk carton and a kickstand on that bad boy :-) (remember cyclists are brutally honest) Oh, the next telltale is the little plastic disk on your back wheel between your biggest cog and your spokes. Oh and lastly, take off the little plastic caps on your presta valves. :-)

    I will follow your lead up to Florida 70.3. Don't let size hold you down... Crush the little man!