So as I’ve been putting in the miles over the first season, one of my priorities was to ensure that I can ride injury free, week in week out.
To do this there were 2 things I needed to look at…Me and my bike!
Over the summer months I engaged with a super coach from Total Tri Training, Andy Hamilton, who got me in the best cycling shape I could be in and looked at strengthening my body to prevent injury. The second thing I have done is Yoga. If you have not tried this and you are taking the time to read this then please, please try Yoga. I can honestly say it has improved my strength and the little flexibility I have; which I believe has translated onto the bike in terms of strength, comfort and recovery.
The second element was the bike fit which is what this blog is about. I’ve had a couple of bike fits previously and I am aware of some companies were their bike fitters are targeted on up-selling on bike fits, which put me off going for one for many years! That said, a bike fit is so important and something you should consider. You wouldn’t head off running a marathon in poorly fitted shoes, would you? First and foremost, before you book your bike fit, it’s important that you do your research! Personally, I always like to go with recommendations.
So now that you I have your attention, here is my recent experience of a bike fit!
I entered the bike workshops where I was going to be fitted, there was a turbo set up in the middle of the room and I was keen to get cracking. I popped the bike on the turbo and started to get changed Alan said “Stop…Let’s have a brew!” I was quickly handed a hot cup of coffee which was gladly received. We stood chatting about all things bikes and more than 20 mins passed before I knew it…I do like to chat you know! I said “Right, shall we get started with the bike fit?” Alan replied, “I already started 20 mins ago I’ve been assessing you!” He then pointed out several things about me. “You know your right arm hangs lower than the left, your shoulders slope from left to right, you stand with your hips forward” etc etc etc! Soon to discover all these things important and to be considered in the bike fit.
I was then assessed for flexibility, how high my arches were, did my feet naturally flex/roll inwards etc.? Whilst I was stood there talking to him I felt like my body and my every movement was under close scrutiny. Through the whole process, each and every point was described to me, it was explained why it was being done and how this affects me on the bike. It was so interesting and made total senses. After all, we are just a series of pivots and levers so in my mind makes sense. After a few hours I got to sit on my bike and began to pedal, all the points made Alan made I could see now see the relevance. I’ve had neck pain in my left side for years when cycling and now I know why as my left arm hang shorter than my right arm! I was stretching and twisting to reach the hoods which translated to stress and fatigue in my neck and shoulder. It totally made sense but without going through an examination (even though that’s what it felt like haha) I would not have known! Small changes to my bike were made, saddle height to ensure the correct knee flexion, cleat positioning, saddle fore and aft etc. Only small tweaks but I then I had to ride my bike and give Alan my feedback on how it felt. The fundamental key to a successful bike fit is you…the rider! What I gleaned from my experience is that the fitter can put you in the correct position or a ball park position but cannot truly fit you to a bike, we are all unique and the fitter needs to know what works for your and what doesn’t? You may want different things from a fit. I want to be areo! I want to be comfortable! The bike fit for me was an organic thing and should be revisited and checked as you adapt to the new riding position.
After a few rides I noticed my glutes were working more and I could certainly feel them for the first few rides. After this settled down I noticed a higher degree of comfort, riding certainly felt easier and more comfortable. The neck aches had gone that I had always just put up with.
I am now in a position on the bike that I feel more comfortable and much more connected to my bike which translates to a much more pleasant experience in the saddle.
If you haven’t had a bike fit, I strongly recommend you consider it! First is to ensure you are not damaging your body by over extending your knee for example, the second is efficiency, why spend hours in the saddle when each pedal stroke could be made more comfortable and more efficient? If you are set up on the bike correctly it can only enhance your cycling experience and ultimately your performance.