May has eased out of the gate with a bit of a saunter. Had classes over last weekend and still felt like I was fighting something, so I played the Costanza card and did the opposite of what I wanted to do - not ride. Wendesday was the first ride of the month - just a regular commute, with a nice little added loop option both directions as I was out the door early on both ends of the day. The Bay Area weather is still a bit nutty/goofy - gusty winds from odd directions, rain with the sun out, instant appearance of dark clouds. But, riding is an outdoor sport, and it felt good to stretch the legs.
What was interesting is that after only six yoga classes, things feel different on the bike. There were two or three places I noticed it. First, I was aware of the placement of my shoulder blades. One of the yoga instructors had mentioned the image of “tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets” as a way to relax the shoulders and open the chest. This felt huge, and seems to be undoing a rolling forward of blades and shoulders. Though I don’t think I had gotten to the classic painful pose of shoulders up around my ears, it got things much more relaxed. This led to item number two: a sense of strength while in the drops of the handlebars, and easier breathing.
The third thing was slightly fleeting but definite. A while ago, I had fallen pretty hard on my left hip while out on the trails, resulting in a nasty hemotoma. After a couple years, the swelling has gone away and there are no dead spots in feeling. In yoga class, what was interesting is that my right hip was the one which seems noticeably tighter and less flexible. Must’ve overcompensated to that side when things were bad, plus it’s my dominant side. Anyway.
While riding home, I felt power down through my hips in a way that I hadn’t for since the tumble. It’s a bit difficult to explain, but it seems like the angle of the hips are slightly more open, which positions them just a bit differently on the saddle. When I apply power, it seems to come from the hip more than the leg - well, more precisely, I notice that it’s incoroporating the hips to the downstroke. Feels much more powerful and efficient. It didn’t always quite go that way, but as soon as I felt it, it reminded me of how it had been. Again, I’ll blame the yoga.
It made me realize how easy it is to have things slowly slide out of whack. Shoulders rolling forward. Hips pitching back. That whole mindfulness thing is really good. I’ll have to look into maintaining it.