Saturday, April 13, 2013

Check the Tension Level

Well, I thought I had shook loose enough to have some more free time.  I headed out at a run and it looked like I was making good progress toward freedom.  Suddenly, like a dog reaching the end of its chain, I was jerked back into play.  Another BIG project was forced upon us.

Still desiring some time of my own, I dug a hole under the fence and wriggled partway out.  I'm getting this blog post in before somebody notices!

When last we met here I was talking about riding with Seriousness of Purpose and Lightness of Hands.

As a prelude, I'd like to suggest a pre-workshop assignment, if you will.

You can see a lot of tension in this rider's face as she's practicing to conquer the infamous offset cone weave. 

While the tension she's showing seems a bit extreme, I'm willing to be bet that most of us ride with more tension in our bodies than we're aware of.  Especially in our arms and hands.

So here's your assignment.  Monitor yourself as you're riding.  Check for whether your upper body is tensed or relaxed.  You may be amazed at what you find.  If you care to share your results here, please do.  I'll give you a few days and then we'll move on.

Miles and smiles,



Dar said...

I notice when I am tense and stressed, it's usually after a frenetic day at work and if traffic is heavy. I also notice if I have been off the bike for awhile my upper body is very rigid. So usually if I am stressing out on the bike I take it back to the basics and go practice in the parkinglot and it takes off the hard edges and brings my confidence level up again and I feel comfortable and chill. When I m rising somewhere particularly stressful I chew gum, it seems to ease off the pressure, I went through about 10 packs when I was doing my riding course. :)

Trobairitz said...

I can honestly say there are times when I have to repeat to myself - loose on the bars - loose on the bars usually when going over gravel.

I try to be conscious of the tension, but I know there are times when I tense up - usually in tight twisties - when it is important not too. More so those downhill tight twisties..........

bluekat said...

Definitely have done the mantra...relax shoulders, relax grip. I think because my arms are practically straight (too much reach to bars?) that that excerbates the feedback as well.

If you really want to feel the effect of tension to steering, try riding one of those recumbent style bicycles ... whole new level of steering excitement. Scariest bike I ever rode, motor or otherwise (scarier than a row of offset cones).

RichardM said...

So far, fairly relaxed. Both my grip on the bars and arms. At least until a turn comes up. With the sidecar mounted, it takes a fair amount of muscle to turn and no more counter steering.

irondad said...


I'm amazed you can chew gum in a helmet! The cheek pads in mine are tight enough that I bite the inside of my cheek.

Riding can be good for releasing stress. Like you mention, though, we have to take into account the stress we start with like after work. I'm going to write about that in a later post.

Take care,


irondad said...


Tensing in the twisties is a good sneak preview of things to come. I'm glad you recognize it.

Take care,


irondad said...


So sorry to have missed you for supper the other night. Hope things are still going well under the circumstances.

Interesting feedback on the recumbent bikes. I wouldn't have guessed. Maybe we should make a new horror film about someone riding a recumbent bike through an offset cone weave!

Take care,


irondad said...


A sidecar? Holy cow, I didn't realize I'd been so far behind in reading blogs. Now I gotta go see!

Take care,


Steve Williams said...

I'm with Trobairitz ... there are times when I need to command myself to be loose. Usually when unexpected gravel or ice comes into view.

But over the years I've learned to relax and it's made a big difference in my riding and how I feel at the end of the day.

I'll keep monitoring myself and see what happens.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

irondad said...


I can't tell you how delighted I am to see you here! Congratulations on getting your Vespa back.

You're on the right track. The trick is to cross the line where relaxing is habitual and not something we have to remind ourselves of.

Take care,