Tag Archives: road biking

No bicycle discomfort is as debilitating as back pain. Luckily, back pain is usually caused by a few, simple to fix issues.

Searching for the cause of back pain and finding the solution for biking

by John Brown

Over the past quarter-century, I have helped all manner of riders get going on their bikes. I’ve been lucky to see the life-changing power of a bicycle. Sadly, I have also seen riders walk away from the sport forever due to simple discomforts. No discomfort is as debilitating as back pain. Luckily, back pain is usually caused by a few easy fix issues. These issues manifest themselves in lower back pain and upper back pain. See below for the causes and fixes.

Lower back

The sky-high seat rider can result in back pain.

The #1 cause for lower back pain is saddle height. Not only is this problem common and painful, but also easily fixed. While trying to get a more efficient pedal stroke, many riders will raise their saddle too high. If your saddle is too high, you will tilt your hips at the bottom of each pedal stroke, trying to reach the pedals. That tilting forces the very small muscles in your back to do the job that the very large muscles in your leg should be doing. To find a proper saddle height, check out our bike setup article, or visit your local shop for a bike fit.

The shocking truth

Another frequent cause of lower back discomfort is road shock. While riding, it is common for the small imperfections in the road to send vibrations through the bicycle and into your body. After some time, this constant vibration can fatigue the muscles in your back. There are a few quick fixes for this problem. The first and easiest solution is tire pressure. Rather than maxing out your tire’s pressure, lower the tire pressure in 5 psi increments until you find a pressure that works for you. Another quick way to squelch road vibration is by adding a suspension seat post. A suspension seat posts absorb the shock before it gets to you.

How is your reach?

Finally, the last common cause of lower back discomfort is your reach. If the distance from your seat to bars is too great, you begin relying on small muscles in your lower back to support the weight of your upper body instead of your core and arms. Look into having your bike properly fit at a local shop or follow our simple fit guide.

Upper back

Shrugging off your responsibilities

The leading cause of upper back pain is riding position. More specifically, the shrugging of one’s shoulders. In my experience, many riders don’t know they are lifting their shoulders when they ride. It is just a tense habit they formed somewhere along the way. Paying attention to where your shoulders are located will help you relax them, alleviating pain. Additionally, try moving your hands to different positions on the bars. That change in grip does wonders to rest different muscle groups. In some cases, a proper bike fit is needed to remedy shrugged shoulders, so if the problem persists, visit your local shop for a fitting.

Don’t become a pack mule.

Be careful how much weight you carry on your shoulders. Riding with a backpack is a great way to carry the things you need, but be careful not to overdo it. If you use a pack to commute, try leaving heavier items like shoes at work. If you absolutely need to carry a lot of weight, install a rack with panniers and move that weight onto your bike frame and off your body.

Keep on going

Like I stated before, I have seen riders get off their bikes forever due to discomfort. It’s always sad to see, especially because I know that most cyclists pain can likely be eliminated with some simple adjustments. Be vigilant about eliminating discomforts. After all, small pains today can manifest into serious problems later. Find a bike-fitting professional you feel comfortable with and talk about your issues. Your back will thank you.

About John Brown, the author

As a lifelong cyclist and consummate tinkerer, John operates Browns Bicycle in Richfield, MN. It all started for him in grade school when the bike bug bit and that particular fever is still there. Now, and over the past thirty years, he has worked at every level in the bike industry. Starting, like most, sweeping floors and learning anything he could about bikes. He eventually graduated as a service manager and then to a store manager.  Through the years, he has spent extensive time designing and sourcing bicycles and parts for some of the largest bike companies in the world. All the while focusing on helping as many people as possible enjoy the love of riding a bike. In that pursuit, he has taught classes (both scheduled and impromptu) on all things bikes. John also believes in helping every rider attain their optimal fit on the bike of their dreams. Please feel free to stop in any time and talk about bikes, fit, parts, or just share your latest ride. You can also see more of John’s tricks and tips on the Brown Bicycle Facebook Page.
In this bike pic, looking through the summer archive. We found this bike chick riding across Iowa in the Monday morning sun. See more fun photo on the RAGBRAI 2018 website.

Bike Pic Feb 22, fond summer memories on riding into the Monday morning sun

In this bike pic, looking through the summer archive. We found this bike chick riding across Iowa in the Monday morning sun. See more fun photo on the RAGBRAI 2018 website.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Monday’ Bike Pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle-related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day, with a safe, memorable 2021!

In this bike pic, looking through the summer archive, we group riding across Iowa. See more fun photo on the RAGBRAI 2018 website.

Bike Pic Feb 18, as the days get longer warm weather bicycle touring gets closer

In this bike pic, looking through the archive from a couple of summers past, we hope bicycle touring comes back strong in our new norm – fingers crossed. See more fun photos on the RAGBRAI 2019 website.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our bike pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your image, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day, with a safe, memorable 2021!

In this bike pic, looking through the summer archive as more cold and snow linger on, we found this biker chick and dude riding across Iowa with friends.

Bike Pic Feb 13, fond summer memories as the cold weather lingers on

In this bike pic, looking through the summer archive as sub-below cold lingers on, we found this biker chick and dude riding across Iowa with friends. See more fun photos on the 2018 RAGBRAI  website.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for viewing our daily bike pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day, with a safe, memorable 2021!

Ride into the Brainerd Lakes Area and you'll see what people love about northern Minnesota. Ride the open roads or the Paul Bunyan Trail and more.

Ride your bike around Brainerd Lakes Area and discover northern fun

by Andrew Ellis

The farther you drive into northern Minnesota, the more you’ll find yourself surrounded by trees, lakes, and never-ending roads and trails, and the Brainerd Lakes Area is no exception. When you want to escape the city for a taste of the come-stay-a-while vibe of relaxing by a lakeside, you’re in luck.

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is a fun trail for the family

It’s a slowed-down pace, but there really is no better way to enjoy the great outdoors of Minnesota. And if you’re going to be getting around on your bike, you can go at any speed you choose. Also, the number of lakes in the area makes it easy to find a place to drop a line in the water.

More about the bike-friendly Brainerd Lakes Area

With many bike-friendly street routes to get you to and from the area hotels in the Brainerd-Baxter. You will also the famous Paul Bunyan Trail, which takes you all the way to Bemidji, and the Mississippi River Trail, easy to access here.

When not touring the lakes area, there are plenty more ways to make everlasting memories. You can walk around Paul Bunyan Land, head over to Pirate’s Cove for some mini-golf, or take a tour of the area on a zip line at Mount Ski Gull.

The area also caters to those who may want to cool down with an indoor activity or have a more relaxing evening. You can enjoy a great meal and a view of North Long Lake or Gull Lake simultaneously with one of their lakeside restaurants. If you want some more local culture, there are plenty of art exhibits, plays, and more shown in the area. And don’t forget the shops, either. There are plenty of unique shops where you can find the perfect souvenir.

Biking opportunities in the bike-friendly Brainerd Lakes Area

Get your bike and get ready to pedal. Brainerd has plenty for you to do. You can take on some mountain bike trails, start the journey up Paul Bunyan Trail, and use road loops to explore the area on your own.

Paul Bunyan Trail

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is a fun trail for the family

The Paul Bunyan trail in the Brainard Lakes Area is a fun trail for the family.

Starting in Brainerd and winding around some of its lakes is the Paul Bunyan Trail. You’ll get a great tour of the northern country life of Minnesota. There are three sections to the trail, or you can take the entire 120 miles that take you to Bemidji, where you can see the famous statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Ox.

Cuyuna Lakes State Trail and mountain bike park

Just east of town, you’ll come upon the natural beauty of the Cuyuna Lakes area. There, you have a couple of options. There’s a 20-mile trail that takes you northeast to the Croft Mine Trailhead. This trail will take you through Minnesota’s north countryside, full of lakes prime for fishing and swimming and beautiful forests full of trees. It’s a freeing experience you won’t soon forget. You can also take on the mountain bike trail system. Each trail varies in difficulty depending on how much of a challenge you want. Obstacles include rocks, wooden paths, and more. You’ll definitely want to come back.

Road biking opportunities galore!

There are plenty of trails and loops to help you make your way around Brainerd and the surrounding area. You can take West Baxter or Sylvan that take you both deeper into the heart of Brainerd and to its perimeter, which also takes you by a couple of lakes. Then there’s Merrifield and Gull Dam Trail that take you north of town and around several of the area’s lakes. The South Long Lake Trail takes you southeast and gives you a little view of South Long Lake. Starting just southeast of the town, you can take Camp Jim Trail that travels north and loops around the town. Plus, there is plenty of fun for those who won’t ride an MRT section (Mississippi River Trail).

See more about the Brainerd Lakes Area here for your next bike adventure.

Bike Pic Jan 29, yeah its Friday with moderate winter temps ahead

This Bike Pic Friday, digging through the archives we found this photo of a young biker dude out having fun on his road bike near Bloomington, MN.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Friday’ Bike Pic’  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day and a memorable 2021!

Here in this Thursday bike pic, looking through the summer archive, we captured this family riding across Iowa, with with the sun shining brightly.

Bike Pic Jan 28, fond summer memories on this family ride

This bike pic Thursday, looking through the summer archive, we found this family riding across Iowa with the sun shining brightly in 2019. See more fun photos on the RAGBRAI  website.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Thursday’ Bike Pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day and a memorable 2021!

This Bike Pic Saturday, with warmer weather continuing, we caught this biker dude out having fun on his road bike near Bloomington, MN.

Bike Pic Jan 16, a fun day to ride in the snow, and reflect

This Bike Pic Saturday, as mild winter weather continues, today’s photo from archives shows a biker dude out having fun last summer on his road bike near Bloomington, MN.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Saturday’ Bike Pic’  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day and a memorable 2021!

This Thursday bike pic, looking through the summer archive, we found this bike dude riding across Iowa, with with the sun shining brightly. See more fun photo on the RAGBRAI 2018 website.

Bike Pic Jan 14, fond summer memories this snowy Thursday

With more snow this bike pic, looking through the summer archive, we found this biker dude riding across Iowa back in 2018. See more fun photos on the RAGBRAI  website.

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Thursday’ Bike Pic  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day and a memorable 2021!

This Bike Pic Saturday, with warmer weather continuing, we caught these biker dudes out having fun on river bottom trail near Bloomington, MN.

Bike Pic Jan 09, a freeze/thaw January, do you have studs for your fatty?

This Bike Pic Saturday, with more temperature swings ahead, we caught these biker dudes out having fun on river bottom trail near Bloomington, MN. Hope their fatties have studs with the icy conditions?

Get into the zone when continuing your time outdoors and your #NextBikeAdventure. View all the great ideas and bike destinations in the latest Iowa or Minnesota Bike/Hike Guide. Then plan your next outing with family and friends in one of Minnesota’s HaveFunBiking Destinations.

Thanks for Viewing Our ‘Saturday’ Bike Pic’  

We are now rolling into our 16th year as a bike tourism media. As we pedal forward, our goal is to encourage more people to bike and have fun while highlighting all the unforgettable places for you to ride. As we continue to showcase more places to have fun, we hope the photos we shoot are worth a grin. Enjoy the information and stories we have posted as you scroll through.

Do you have a fun bicycle related photo of yourself or someone you may know we should post? If so, please send your picture(s) to [email protected]. Include a brief caption (for each) of who is in the photo (if you know) and where the picture was taken. Photo(s) should be a minimum of 1,000 pixels wide or larger to be considered. If we use your photo, you will receive photo credit and acknowledgment on Facebook and Instagram.

As we continue to encourage more people to bike, please view our Destination section at HaveFunBiking.com for your #NextBikeAdventure – Also, check out the MN Bike Guide, now mobile friendly, as we enter into our 13th year of producing this handy information booklet full of maps.

Remember, bookmark HaveFunBiking.com on your cell phone and find your next adventure at your fingertips! Please share our pics with your friends, and don’t forget to smile. We may be around the corner with one of our cameras ready to document your next cameo appearance while you are riding and having fun. You could be in one of our next Pic of the Day.

Have a great day and a memorable 2021!