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I took off about nine months from cycling, then took my Specialized Crossroads Elite (upright comfort bike) to the local bike shop to be tuned up. They replaced the shock seatpost which was slipping. Now I notice that when I start riding, the center of my upper thigh, right at the hip crease, becomes sore almost immediately. This seems to be worse if I bend forward. Do you think this is due to:

  • the new seatpost and seat adjustments?
  • simply being absent from cycling for so long? (I don't remember this feeling after previous long absences, though)
  • too much flexibility due to lots of hip opener stretches in yoga?

Is there something I should do? Adjust the bike somehow? Or just build my muscles up through more cycling?

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2 Answers 2

It's very difficult to diagnose this kind of pain without being far more directly involved in the situation.

However, the immediate issues that come to mind are:

  1. Check the level positioning of the seat. It is possible that either due to ineptitude or lack of care, when the saddle was mounted to the new post, it was not mounted in a position properly level to the ground. In some situations it may be acceptable to have the seat tilted slightly nose down, but most saddles are designed with the idea that they will be level to the ground when the bike is sitting on it's wheels.

  2. Grab the saddle nose with one hand, and the aft of the saddle with the other. Does it rotate side to side more than 2 or 3 millimeters? That kind of movement can cause friction in unusual places. See to it that the tension on the seatpost is adjusted to minimize the play, or replaced with a better quality post, if adjustment is not an option.

  3. Did you also change the saddle at the same time you changed the post? A wider saddle nose, or a wider seat cushion on a saddle can cause friction in the thigh area as well. If the saddle was not changed, and you didn't have these issues prior to the seatpost change, this isn't likely. But worth mentioning.

  4. Make sure the saddle nose is straight in line with the top tube of the frame. If it is misaligned, it can cause friction or pain.

  5. If none of the are the case, check the seams in your cycling shorts. A bunched or pinched seam can cause that as well, but then it would have nothing to do with the seatpost.

Let me know if that helps, or try to give more detailed information, and I will do my best to help.

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(1) I used a spirit level to see if the saddle was really level. Measuring from the highest point of the front to the highest point of the back, it appears to be tilted up by about 10°–20°. I tried to use a 6 mm hex key to loosen the seatpost clamp so that I could adjust the angle, but wasn't able to get it to budge. I will see if I can get any more experienced friends to take a look at it. This seems like the most likely problem. (2) Saddle is not rotating side to side very much. (3) Saddle is the same one I've always had. –  Michael Hoffman Jul 6 '11 at 16:19
    
If the saddle is tilted nose up, that is most likely the cause, yes. The measurement you took, as described is perfect. High point of the aft saddle to the high point of the nose of the saddle. Make it level, and give it a try again. –  zenbike Jul 6 '11 at 17:49

First off, you need to make it clear whether this is a soreness of the skin, or soreness deeper in -- in the muscles/tendons. You can develop skin ulcers in creases in the skin due to the friction, and you often won't even notice them until you get onto the bike. (Cortisone cream will generally clear up such ulcers if they aren't too far developed.)

But assuming it's soreness in the muscle/tendon, it likely represents an injury to the same. Sorry to tell you that if this is the case you likely need to rest the injured area to some degree for at least a few weeks. You can try cutting back on your effort level (gear down and up your RPMs) to reduce the stress on the area, but if the area keeps getting sorer, or doesn't improve in a few days of lighter effort then you'll probably have to quit entirely. Repeatedly stressing the injury makes it worse. (Hey! This is why pain was invented -- to keep you from making things worse!)

(Injuries to muscles and tendons can come about from a single excessively stressful motion, or from repetitive strain, but muscle injury can also come about from sustained effort (tens of minutes) above the muscle's metabolic threshold. Minor tendon injuries take about 6 weeks to heal entirely; muscle injuries take closer to 6 months.)

You could also, of course, have some sort of arthritic problem with the hip joint.

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Yes, it's internal soreness of some sort—muscle or tendon. –  Michael Hoffman Jul 5 '11 at 20:33
    
There are a lot of options preceding giving up completely! Go to a doctor or physiotherapist and get some treatment. +1 for increasing cadence. I got a lot of hip pain until I made a conscious effort to spin faster and haven't had any trouble since. –  Mac Jul 6 '11 at 0:10

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