So last month so me finally go and get a proper bike fitting from the guys over at IrishFit. They are calling it a “Video Based Bike Setup Analysis” but people who had been talking about it on boards were always calling it a bike fitting so maybe that is where I got a little confused. The simple fact was that it was way way more than a simple bike fit.
I was expecting to arrive over, throw the bike onto the trainer, get filmed, then talk about how the position can be improved. Maybe do the changes and re-film to show how great everything is now. Oh how wrong I was. Appointment began with discussing problems with the bike, in my case some hand pain after the Tour of Meath and then some recent problems with my knees. This led on to some tests of muscle flexibility and movement strength. All the main muscles from lower leg up to the lower back were looked at and also rated in the report I got earlier this week.
Straight away, this pointed to some possible problems with my cycling/peddling technique, and I hadn’t even been on the bike yet. Suggestions of Sports Massage and Pilates were given and are something I’m looking into along with some yoga. The one I already knew was that I need to start stretching after cycling. So many long cycles and I’ve ignored this. After stretching when I came home on Tuesday night, I don’t think I’ll be cycling again and then not stretching. Legs felt like I hadn’t cycled after the stretching was complete.
Lights, Camera, Action
The bike gets put up on the trainer and away we go. You end up pedalling for about 2-3 minutes each time. Got shorter on each attempt as only a short period is needed by the software to pick up the tracks made my the leg movements and also to draw out the angles between things. I’m by no means a biomechanical engineer but when you see a picture of yourself with the angles drawn out, it can be quite clear where some things are wrong. Muscles work better within certain restricted ranges, have the leg extend too much looses lots of energy. Saw goes for angle of leg at the top between the chest. Too shallow and it restricts your breathing.
It really was very effective to do the first run through, show the angles, make the small change, in my case we moved the saddle height a small amount, then redo the video and see the changes. On the one hand, it does let you know that you aren’t paying for nothing, but on the other the voice in your head can be silenced as it knows it is a positive change.
So what does a bike fitting do for you? Well in my case, and bare in mind that it only really was a small change of saddle height, it has made a huge difference. Firstly I do now stretch after cycling. Well mostly. Its something that I need to improve. I am doing core exercises so its a big plus there.
Secondly, I was recomended to get some LeMann Wedges. Basically small bits of tilted place that go between the cleat and the shoe. My left leg is shorter than my right leg so I’ve off set some of that.
After all of that, the Tour of Kildare was the first big test. 100km of cycling with an avg of 31km/h. That there is way above any previous averages I’ve had. Ok so its the first time I’ve done a long distance in a group like that, other sportives I’ve been spat out the back. But I know well I’d not have been able to do that with the hand pain or knee problems I’ve been having. Both are gone while on the bike although my knee still hasn’t fully recovered. Still the fact that I can cycle without any problems anymore is a big step back to where I want to be. And now the speeds are higher and I can spend more time in the drops and lots more on the hoods.
Do it, do it now. Email them, call them, whatever. Just book it. It is worth it. So much so I already know I’ll be going back when I build my new bike next year. The whole process is on another level to that of a bike fitting in a shop. You won’t regret it.