Hey There #FitFam,
I am back again today to share my recent experience in getting a proper bike fit.
When I committed to Ironman Calgary 70.3 I knew I had to take a good look at my deficiencies as a triathlete. My swim has seen drastic improvement over the last two years as has my run, hello 11 min PR on my half marathon last June. My bike, however is still lacking, or in a more positive tone – still has a ton of room for improvement. I read in The Triathlete’s Training Bible by Joe Friel, that an athlete will improve for 10 years no matter when they start. Since I have only been riding since 2014 I still have plenty of opportunity to improve.
I KNOW that since the bike is the largest portion in triathlon and the part in which I am least confident it is time to focus on cycling. As always I have been researching like crazy reading article upon article and book after book about the subject.
Aside from the obvious – bike shoes and clipless peddles the next most important thing I could do to improve on the bike was a bike fit. Two reasons stand out for why I needed a fit.
1) I was ridiculously uncomfortable on the bike
2) I had never had my bike set up for me, not even when I bought it.
So a couple weeks ago when Tim and I went into the city I stopped into Alterego Sports, a great little bike shop on Pembina Hwy in Winnipeg Manitoba. I was actually only there to pick up my shoes, peddles and aerobars, but after meeting Heather and learning more about the process I set up an appointment for early the next day.
Usually when you do a bike fit you arrive wearing your cycling clothing, shoes etc. I had never even tried my bike shoes and peddles and had left my bike clothing at home. Still Heather, her partner James a seriously knowledgeable bike fitter, and I made it work.
Heather first led me through a short questionnaire to determine my goals, riding style and any history that might affect my fit and future performance. We discussed where I was most uncomfortable which was in the saddle – major soft tissue pain and slight hand shoulder neck discomfort. Then she led me through a serious of exercises to look for physical imbalances and deficiencies. I was pretty shocked to see that my hip flexors were not as tight as I had expected yet I had rather tight quadriceps.
After an hour of “really getting to know each other” I got onto my bike, which she had “zinned” the night before, took all the measurements so we had a base line. She immediately could see my total discomfort on the saddle. We quickly swapped it out for a Specialized Power Comp Saddle in the 168 mm width. I immediately found some comfort. We continued to try 4 other saddles, some were ok – others OMG not a chance. We stuck with the Specialized saddle as it provided me with the right amount of support for my wider sit bones.
Along with changing my saddle, which isn’t easy on a Giant bike – poor Heather …. she raised my seat a whopping 5 cm. Although I am only 5’6″ I apparently have long legs and my seat is comparable to Heather’s who is 5′ 9″. I never would have been able to adjust it accordingly on my own. We also moved the saddle to a more foreword position. I had gone into the bike shop with the intention of purchasing a nice pair of clip on aerobars, but I was not able to get comfortable enough in the aero position to justify the purchase.
Lastly, Heather flipped my handle bar stem to a more up right position to alleviate my hand discomfort. This allowed me to position my hands more correctly on the hoods.
Through the entire experience, all three hours of it, I was very open with my fitters. Often people are too shy to discuss the real issues. My issue quite simply was that it hurt my vagina, yes I said it, when I rode my bike. Because I was open with my pain we were able to find a solution.
A couple days after my fit I finally got to experience what a good ride is supposed to feel like. Zero saddle discomfort, legs is the correct position for power and shoes and peddles that result in real power.
My Girl all done up and back on the trainer.
I know that these tweaks will result in a better bike time in my 2016 race season.