Nothing will spoil a ride like a sore neck – well except maybe a saddle sore. I’ve never had neck problems but lately my neck has been bothering me on the bike. Not sure exactly when it started but I took up mountain biking again this year. I jammed my neck a couple of times while trying to pop the front wheel over roots and rocks. One night this summer I went for a road ride and within 10 minutes I thought that I would have to end it early. My neck was very tight and there was a sharp pain in one spot.
Neck pain is a very common complaint while cycling, especially among new riders whose neck muscles haven’t gotten used to supporting a head that’s as heavy as a bowling ball at an unnatural angle. Neck pain can also be caused by poor bike fit – a stem that’s too long, or a saddle that’s jammed too far back can lead to neck pain.
One cause of neck pain that might not immediately come to mind is a simple pair of cycling glasses.
I always wear glasses while riding. When I first got into cycling seriously in the early 80’s cycling glasses didn’t exist (or at least not that I knew of). Once in a while I would wear a pair of imitation Wayfarers on casual rides but they always slid down. Even during my first couple of years of mountain biking, very few people wore glasses. Then companies like Oakley and Rudy Project came along and glasses become an essential piece of kit.
Now it feels really strange not to throw on a pair of glasses for a ride. As I’ve gotten older, my eyes have gotten more sensitive to sunlight. I also hate having grit or bugs in my eyes.
I’ve noticed that the glasses I wear now tend to slide down my nose, no matter how much I adjust them. The top of the frame ends up right at eye level. In order to see the road ahead, I either have to peer over the top of the frame, defeating the purpose of the glasses, or roll my head back so I can look through the lenses.
I started to suspect that my poorly fitting glasses might be the root of my neck problems so I took them off for a ride to see if that helped my sore neck. It did. I could keep my chin down and still see the road. The only draw back was the bugs that got into my eyes. So, I guess I need to hunt around for a pair of glasses that will allow me to ride without scrunching my neck up.
The moral of the story is, if you’re experiencing neck pain on your bike, check your stem length and seat position, concentrate on tucking your chin down to your chest, and if that doesn’t work, try riding without your classes on.