Aches and Pains

by Jane
(South of Ottawa, Ontario)

I'm an older woman taking up riding for the first time. It is something I always wanted to do and I decided it was now or never. I don't know anyone with a bike, so I took a three-hour course (it was essentially the first morning of a 2 day license course) to see if I really wanted to continue. I decided the only way I could learn to ride was to buy a bike. I purchased a Yamaha TTR 125 trail bike to ride on our country property, as I felt it was the safest environment in which to learn. I've been enjoying the whole process. I set up an intersection, a cone-weave pattern and a u-turn to practice slow moves. I also ride up and over our raised septic bed to get the feeling for slopes, and I counter-steer at greater speed around our grassy open area (like a large parking lot). I do have to keep changing gears and covering the clutch and brake as the area isn't that large. I've been riding for a half to one hour every day that it hasn't been raining for three months.

What I have discovered is that I have various aches and pains which are not going away. My first problem is a groin strain which first occurred during the class. They didn't like us "paddling" the bikes and made us get off and on to turn around (taken in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada so the classes are not identical to the MSF). My flexibility is not what it once was, and strain to lift my leg over the back was too much. Like the bike I rode in the class, the seat height of my TTR 125 itself is fine, its raising my leg over the raised part of the bike behind the seat that's my problem. I'm going to get a prescription for physio from my Doctor, but I wonder if anyone has suggestions as to how to get off and on the bike to minimize the stretch. I'm planning to buy a Ninja 250 next summer to go on the road and its rear raised area is much higher than my current bike although the seats heights are identical. I may have to get it lowered just to get on!!

My hands also get sore and sometimes numb after about a half hour riding. The ground I'm riding on is a bit rough, so I do get a lot of vibration particularly when going faster. I expect that on a straight ride on a road I could relax them more, and I have thought of getting a wrist rest for the throttle when I get my street bike.

I also tend to get a sore shin on my right leg from covering the back brake, holding my foot up so as not to apply the brake unless necessary. I don't want to wear out the brakes by applying them unknowingly.

Are these aches and pains normal when starting out or is my age causing most of my problems? Any suggestions as to causes or treatments? My riding season is probably finished due to the rain we're now getting (the grass is too slippery for safety) and the temperatures at night are cold enough to cause frost. Is there anything I can do over the winter for specific physical fitness - I'm thinking of doing strengthening exercises for my hands using a ball or those spring-loaded things you can buy.

Thanks for any suggestions you have.


Comments for Aches and Pains

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Oct 27, 2010
Trail Bikes
by: Anonymous

Wow, a trail bike you are brave gal. Go keep riding!

Oct 27, 2010
Worth the Discomforts
by: Lori

I do exactly what Wanda said to do about bending your leg, grab your ankle (I grab the cuff of my jeans) and guide your leg over the seat. I ride a cruiser that has a sissy bar and usually a day bag on that so it is difficult for me to swing my leg around and clear all that. Don't know your age but it doesn't matter, I am 53 and have been riding for 6 years and it is worth all the discomforts I usually experience later on after a nice long ride. Keep on riding!

Oct 26, 2010
Thanks for the Suggestions
by: Jane

Thanks all for the suggestions. Yvonne, I'm glad to hear that you found it got better with time. I'm hoping that I'll find that too.

Kit, once I've seen a physio, I should have some stretching recommendations to follow. For my class, I bought an armored leather jacket, 3/4 helmet, and motorcycle gloves. Once I got my bike, I added Alpinestar boots and Joe Rocket ballistic pants with knee armor. Once I get my Ninja, I'll upgrade to a modular helmet. I tried on several full face ones at the time I bought my helmet and couldn't get my glasses on.

Sandra, yoga sounds ideal. Out here, there aren't any classes close by. I'll see if there are any good DVD's for beginners. I checked my gloves and the padding in the palm isn't gel. My husband has gel bicycle gloves and finds they help a lot with vibration.

Wendy, I'd love to be able to afford a BMW (especially with ABS) but we're both retired and can't afford it.

Wanda, I tried a variation on your suggestion today - I faced the front of the bike, held onto the back with my right hand, lifted my right leg with my left hand and swung my leg over forwards. Since my bike has a banana-shaped seat with room for this it worked really well!

As for covering brakes: I generally use the front brake for emergency stops, and only use the back when doing slow practice or coming to a stop during my intersection practice. The riding position with resting the balls of my feet on the pegs is so much more comfortable. I guess the problem is that I've been doing a lot of slow practice.

Oct 26, 2010
by: Wanda

Congratulations on tackling a new adventure at a mature age. I'm proud of you! Your aches and pains are likely due to a combination of age and your body not being used to the new activity (mounting the bike, squeezing the clutch lever, rolling on the throttle, and being ready to apply the rear brake. You need to take care of the groin pull. Do not try to swing your leg over the rear of the bike while you are hurt. Give the muscle time to heal. It should heal during the off season. One suggestion is to stand next to the bike like you are going to mount it, bend your right leg at the knee and grab hold of your ankle with your right hand. Use you hand to guide your ankle across the seat, and then just sit down straddling the bike. I do that sometimes for bikes that have tall seats.

I like your idea of getting a squeeze ball to help relieve the strain in your hands. I used one of those when I was first learning to ride. Also, I like to take Aleve for muscle strains. The off-road bike is probably a rougher ride than many street bikes. In one of the posts, a lady mentioned getting a BMW F800ST. The BMW bikes are smooth rides. I have a BMW G650GS myself, and it is super easy to operate. Everybody thinks BMW bikes are too expensive, but they're not too bad, especially if you can find a gently used one. I suggest that you not "cover" the rear brake, because it is not necessary. Like one lady suggested, the front brake is right there if you need it and has 70% of the stopping power. Slide your right foot back some on the peg for better support, and do not worry about covering the rear brake. You need to get used to where the rear brake is located, so when you need it, you can pick your foot up and slide it forward slightly to apply the rear brake.

One final suggestion is to breathe deeply and try to relax. Do you find yourself gripping the handlebars tightly? It is actually better to use a light grip. Pull your stomach in, and sit up straight and proud. It would help to get some physical exercise, such as walking or stair climbing to get you in shape for motorcycling. Hope these suggestions help. Good luck with your continued development. Please post again to let us know how you are progressing!

Oct 25, 2010
It's Part of the Pleasure and Pain
by: Wendy - Sydney

Hi there, I was a middle life crisis learner, at 39.. It's been six yrs now and I still get a sore lower back pain after a days ride (I can blame it on the age but its probably because I don't really excise). Voltern and a hot shower help. As for the numbness - I used to get on my 250cc Virago all the time.. now I have the BMW F800ST with Heated Handlebar grips... and that helps/stops the numbness. I think you're doing it tough on a off-road bike.. but at least you're doing it.. Good luck and welcome to the womens world of motorcycling.

Cheers, Wen

Oct 25, 2010
by: Sandra

To improve your ability to mount the bike, try a regular beginner's yoga class...it's GREAT for improving your flexibility, and you will feel better doing all kinds of chores, not just riding the bike!

Are you wearing gloves while riding, especially gloves w/gel cushion in the palms? That is supposed to help absorb some of that vibration. Also, remember to loosen your grip every couple of minutes, as you may be exerting much more pressure than necessary, although in a rough pasture-like riding arena, this may not be as helpful as road-riding; still loosen up those fingers, even if you have to stop and shake them out every 10 minutes or so.

Finally, you may choose to cover the front brake, which is your bike's STRONGER brake at times, but covering your rear brake at all times is not only unnecessary, it could be a bad habit, as applying rear brake during some problems can do more to hurt your situation than help it. Better to start slowing down w/front (hand) brake and add rear brake gently to increase stopping speed. Don't want that rear end sliding out from under you.

Keep practicing; by the time you feel road-ready, you will be AMAZED how much easier it is than cross country!

Oct 25, 2010
Aches and Pains Here Too
by: Kit

Take an anti-inflammatory before a after riding. Like Motrin. Stretch first before and after straddling bike to keep limber. Wear protective gear to pad your elbows and knees.

Wear the aches and pains proudly! YOU are a women rider!!

Oct 25, 2010
by: Yvonne

I started riding again in June. I have a 1100 Honda Shadow. At first, it was difficult getting my leg up and over, after awhile it became much easier. My hands would get sore, and again, strengthened as I rode more. I think it's just a matter of time before things improve.

I turned 60 in June, so age does have a factor, I'm sure. Keep it up, and enjoy.

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