Putting the Joy Back in Cycling: Getting a Bike Fit

Bike_Fit

Getting my bike fitted

Recently, my riding has sucked. I was just not comfortable on the bike after 10 miles. Pain on my right leg would develop and I would have to shift my butt on the saddle to ease the problem. Then my right knee would be hurting after a good workout and to top it off, my hands were constantly numbing up. I tell you, after 25 miles on the bike, I’m ready to jump off of it! That’s sad because I love to bike! After a lot of self adjustments to try to solve the issues, I threw in the towel and decided to get a bike fit. I need to put the joy back into riding again.

I harp all the time that you need to get a bike fit when you get a new bike, but I never followed my advice. “Do as I say not as I do”, was my excuse. Well it was time to do as I say. I initially wanted to do the bike fit at a particular shop and even went so far to call and put my name down for an appointment the following week. After talking to others that went through the bike fitting process with that shop, they were not impressed nor satisfied. Disappointed, I started looking elsewhere to get it done.

My second thought was to try Bicycle World, that is, after all, where I got my bike at. Every time I would go to the shop I would see their bike fitting station looked unused and collecting dust. Hmm, not good I thought. It didn’t seem as if they were actively promoting bike fits to their customers. I went to the Specialized website to find an authorized shop for their fit: program. Bicycle World listed them as well as Bicycle Sport Shop in Austin. I remembered the Austin store where I bought my shoes. Their fit: station was up and running with cyclists getting fitted. That’s where I wanted to go. A trip to Austin and a bike fit at the same time would be great.

Last Saturday I was riding around McAllen going from store to store and I ended up in Bicycle World for a reprieve from the heat. Lo and behold I see their newly installed fit: station all spruced up and ready to go. My interest immediately picked up and I started to ask questions about it. Are they certified as the Specialized website says they are? Yes, two members have been through the training. Have they done any fittings? Yes, they already done several cyclists and their feedback has been positive. These answers to my questions an many more sounded good to my ears, so I signed up for a Monday morning fit. This saved me a trip to Austin, that’s both good and bad.

The Bike Fit

Monday morning I’m there early and ready to go. It was a long process as they prodded, poked, measured both the bike and myself. I did the sit bone test, the arch support test, flexibility, knees, ankles and some other stuff. Finally, I’m on the trainer and peddling to get warmed up. After the warm-up, the tweaking of the bike begins and in the end I ended up with the saddle raised 3 cm, new saddle, new saddle horizontal position, stem angle raised, cleats readjusted, new and insoles.

I got the new saddle because the ISM Adamo was the wrong type for my riding style. While out riding I noticed that was sitting on the left side of the saddle instead dead center. It was also harder to get the horizontal position correctly, so I opted to get a different saddle. I ended up with the Specialized ToupĂ© RBX Comp Gel. It’s totally different and harder but I know my bum will get used to it.

One week after the Fit

My first ride after the fit as a short 18 mile ride in extremely windy conditions. It wasn’t a fast pace ride as we had two beginners that we were encouraging and coaching. My first impressions, it felt great. No knee pain, I was able to power through the wind a lot easier with the new saddle height. I still found myself wanting to slide forward on the seat and thus put pressure on my hands and wrists. I was starting to get a little numbness in the fingers but it was not as near as bad as before. I just compensated by moving my hands to different place on the flat bar. After the ride I was fine until I cooled down and started to feel the muscle ache. That’s good because I’m using a different set of muscles now. Now, I just need to ride the rest of the week and get my one hundred miles in and reevaluate afterwards.

Well, it’s Friday and I’ve done several easy and hard rides. So far, I have been very pleased with the results. No knee or leg pains to speak of, all very minor to non-existent. Hand numbness also dramatically improved. I still have a little but nowhere near as before. Lately, I couldn’t wait to get off the bike because I was so uncomfortable on it, but this weeks rides have been very pleasant. Can you have a pleasant ride with winds at a steady 20 mph and its occasional gust of wind?

Final Thoughts

I must admit, I’m like everyone else, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”. Well, better late than never I suppose. I’m very pleased with my bike fitting experience from Bicycle World and the results that I got afterwards. My rides are now more comfortable without the pains and hand numbness that I was getting. Best of all, I’m excited to see a shop here in the Valley that will do a proper fit as well as actively promote it to its current and potential customers (this is not to say that other shops don’t offer bike fits). The more cyclists are out on properly fitted bikes, the more likely they will continue the activity and not injure themselves. That is a win-win situation for everyone. Final word, get a bike fit, well worth the money spent.

Anyone out there has good or bad experience with their bike fit, drop a comment and share.

New Cycling Gear and other Updates

blog_updateI just want to do a short write-up on whats new with me and some of the new gear that I have updated and/or added. I don’t want to do a separate blog for each item, that would just take too long to do. I don’t fancy myself sitting here days on end writing when I can be out cycling instead.

First of all, I continue to lose weight 🙂 That is my primary goal. I had hit a plateau a while back and started up the food journal to kick-start the process. Well, I’m glad to say that it worked and lost another 5-6 pounds. I’m in the 230’s now for the first time in about two years. It feels great, I’m faster on the bike and my clothes feel a lot looser. I may have to get some new clothes soon. I know I still have a long ways to go, but I am chipping away at my goal.

I’m back to doing 100+ miles per week. So far I’ve done three consecutive weeks and looking to do another. I started this about two months ago, but i have been not consistent on the goal. It has been one thing after another that stood in the way, either bad weather, family obligations or mechanical issues. Lately, everything seems to be aligning up nicely and I’m taking advantage of it.

On my trip to Austin last month, I picked up some new cycling shoes at Bicycle Sport Shop. As I have said before, I don’t like road shoes. I want shoes that I can walk normally in when I get off the bike, so mountain bike shoes are my preference. I spotted some Specialized Sport Mountain Bike shoes on sale and picked them up. Goodbye shoe laces, you are no longer needed nor wanted. I also picked up the cleats for the Crank Brothers type of cranks and had them install them on my new shoes for me. After some measurements she proceeded to put the cleats on for me while I browsed the huge shop. Lighter, stiffer, comfortable, no shoe laces and on sale, bingo! A month later and I’m still enjoying the new shoes.

iBike Newton

iBike Newton

Last month was an expensive one. Besides my trip to Austin, when the rooms were at a premium price due to graduation week, I also purchased a power meter from Velocomp. The product? iBike Newton. Actually, I got it off Amazon with free shipping. So far it has been pretty good. It has a small learning curve with using the buttons (it’s no smartphone so no swiping), but it’s easy to pick up. I can go all week-long without having to charge the battery on the unit which is a blessing. The big plus for me is the ability to read the LCD display in bright daylight (something I could not do with my iPhone). The unit is also easy to calibrate, you can pair it up to any ANT+ compatible unit to receive the power (Garmin or iPhone app with ANT+ dongle), it has built-in Interval training or create your own. The Newton is a fantastic power meter at an affordable price.

Cygolite TridentX 1100

Cygolite TridentX 1100

I do a lot of night riding and my old Cygolite Mity Might 350 looked pale compared to the other new lights out there. After researching lights of different manufactures, I settled on Cygolite TridentX 1100. Super bright light, decent battery life, good spread of the light, custom configurable blinky option all make to a good buy. Now, when I ride with a group, my light drowns out everyone else’s. Ah, I’m no longer at the bottom of the totem pole.

Salsa Skewers

Salsa Skewers

I don’t know about you but I’m getting tired of black. I want some color on my bike and for that reason I picked up some red Salsa skewers. They come in many different colors, but since my bike has some red highlights I figured red would be a good choice to try. I got a pair from on-line some where that took almost two weeks to arrive! I was not happy with the delivery time, but I really like the skewers. I’ve got some nice comments about them.

Beam+

Beam+

My last addition is a new handlebar extender called Beam+. This is one of those products that has its roots with Kickstarter. It’s a simple rolled up aluminum sheet that mounts to the front of the stem where the bolts are at. They come in a variety of colors to choose from. In continuation of adding color to my bike I again went with red. They have not come in yet but I plan on moving my Newton over to it and putting the bike light higher. I’m hoping the light from the headlight will shine on the Newton so I can read it at night (it has no backlight).

Serfas AP-01

Serfas AP-01

Ok, I remembered one other item I got a CO2 cartridge inflater called the AP-01 from Serfas. I actually picked it at Tsunami Cycles, a small, friendly bike shop while I was in Austin last month. I replaced my mini floor pump that I hauled around with this. Unfortunately I had to use it recently and it worked just fine. I like the push button trigger to slowly fill up you tire without worry of sudden over inflation and possibly rupturing the tube. You can use either threaded or non-threaded CO2 cartridges with this inflater.

Well that’s about it for now. I’m still shooting for 100 miles per week and I’m still losing weight. I got new gear for color, new lights that is a big plus for our night rides, new shoes that are comfortable. I replaced some older gear with the new stuff that are still good for backup situations. Last month was expensive with not only the new gear, but my mini vacation to Austin was well worth the trip.

Keep those wheels spinning.