Archive | January, 2012

Are you Straight?

17 Jan

Bike fit has come a long way since I began cycling when I was 12. It has been something that I have taken a keen interest in from the beginning. Fitting service goes beyond just the mechanical to the biomechanical. My experience with bike fit began with Dave Latourette who first introduced bike fitting to NWA in early 2002. In 2005 I moved to the cycling hotbed of south TX. In San Antonio, I honed my fitting technique, regularly consulting with Independent Fabrications on custom bike designs for Bicycle Heaven. In TX, Tri is huge and I worked with world class triathletes to get every bit of advantage from their fit. Upon moving back to NWA in 2007 I partnered with Highroller Cyclery to bring all this fit expertise to NWA. In early 2009 I participated in a seminar with Paul Swift from Bikefit.com, and achieved the rating of green bike fitter. In March 2010 I attended the SBCU BG Fit class and achieved the master fit technician rank.

Bike fit is something that, until recently, was a bit difficult. In the beginning of my cycling career I was always trying to find just the right seat height and moving the position back and forth. Traditional wisdom of the day suggested get the biggest bike you could and ride the seat as high as you could. Also, on the old quill stems it was a real production to change stem lengths, so a person normally learned to accommodate a good amount of pain and discomfort. This lead to several problems that were all related to one another, though I wouldn’t know it until much later.

We are lucky now because the symptoms that most cyclists complain about can normally be alleviated by the massive amounts of adjustments that are designed into today’s bikes. Stem lengths can be changed and angles adjusted. Seat position is normally able to be adjusted through a wide range of positions with different seatpost setbacks and longer rails on the saddle. Companies like Specialized have invested heavily in the process of bike fit too. Thus creating programs like BG fit that educate local bike shops about fit in a way that was previously reserved only for elite level biomechanists and PT’s. Bike fit is a process that can be replicated over and over again for any rider with good results.

However, there are rare cases (of which mine is one) where traditional fitting practice and knowledge fall short. In these cases it becomes necessary for the fitter to think outside the box and draw on other disciplines to solve the fit problems.

The following is an example of how having ones body out of “adjustment” can be be a big factor in bike fit, power production, and pain while riding:

I have always struggled with my fit on the bike and have played with it for years. Nagging knee pain was always a big problem. Another issue that I have had was that I always felt “crooked” on the bike. Tweaks here and there have always been temporary fixes to the underlying problem that I never knew I had. After going to several fit schools and performing innumerable successful fits on others; I was at my wit’s end with my personal fit. After moving back to AR and developing a relationship with Ali Racheotes of SCA through the store I began thinking that perhaps my problem on the bike was not bike fit related. I scheduled an appt. with Ali and she did a comprehensive assessment my issues. Her approach of assessing the entire body, rather than just a small piece, helped me understand bike fit in a way that all my other experience and training had missed.

After I was “adjusted” I noticed and immediate increase in power and could feel that I was more square on the bike. I felt “straight”. All cylinders seemed to be lined up and firing in sequence. After a few weeks of the new “adjustments” to my body and several follow up visits my knee pain was gone completely.

If you have any cycling fit issues that you have been struggling with and previous bike fitting has not come up with a long lasting solution, perhaps you should consider getting a chiropractic opinion as well. I recommend that you use your bike fitter as a sounding board and ask them who they recommend for a consult. Of course, Highroller is the option for fit that I would recommend because we have the most experience with bike fit in NWA. PERIOD. We also have good working relationships with many other sports professionals in the area like Ali. With our blend of fitting styles we will be able to solve your problems.

Thanks for reading.
Branton

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Feats of Strength 2012

6 Jan

We all ride bikes for different reasons. Two wheels, a chain, and a support frame combined in various configurations yield almost unlimited possibilities.

Charles Atlas knew about feats of strength.

Recreation, adventure, stress relief, exercise, competition, touring, commuting, working. …..

Many of us may start off in one discipline. As our skills improve and our desire to expand our horizons grow; we seek out new challenges. After a while we may need to increase the quiver of bikes available to us.  Ultimately we have a garage full of bikes and gear for all types of riding situations.  It seems that there is always something more on the horizon to peak our cycling interest. Something that you had not thought about before.

For 2012 Highroller Cyclery is planning on participating in events that we think fall into the category of “FEATS OF STRENGTH”.

What is a feat of strength you ask?

It varies for everyone, and these events are going to appeal to several different levels of riders and cross many disciplines. The events will address multiple types of strength and will not always be what you would expect. The event list will be updated as we hear of or come up with new feats throughout the year.

Feat of strength number one:

You never know about January weather in the Ozarks could be nice or naughty.

The Headwaters Challenge: January 28 2012. This is a long technical mountain bike ride. The Challenge begins with 15 challenging miles of singletrack riding around the Headwaters on trails that have recently been given official designation by the Ozark National Forest as the Upper Buffalo Mountain Bike Trail System. This is a very technical ride and will take expert and intermediate riders 2-3 hours to complete. These 15 miles make up the Half Challenge and finish at the start line. Lunch, snacks, beverages and a warm fire are waiting for all riders. After the break, riders can continue on to complete the entire 35+ mile Challenge ride. This requires 20 more miles of mixed Buffalo Headwaters singletrack, doubletrack, and Forest Roads. Riders must be ready to start at 10 AM SHARP! Call How Kuff at 870 861 5613 or email howkuff@yahoo.com for more details. Note that this is an invitational only ride for OORC members. Memberships may be purchased before the start at Foggy Rock Farm. If you plan to attend, it would be very helpful to contact the OORC prior to the week of the Challenge.

Stay tuned for more updates on upcoming Feats of Strength.

Branton

If you have an idea for a Feat of Strength in 2012 let me know.

Futures

5 Jan

It’s 2012 and according to the Mayans this could be the last year any of us have to worry about riding our bikes. On the off chance that they got it wrong 2000 years ago I want to talk a little about the future of the sport we love.

Technology has been responsible for amazing leaps forward in the performance of our bicycles and the equipment we use while practicing our hobby. We all benefit from the lighter faster more aero parts and bikes that the application of new technology has allowed. Unfortunately, the technology that has been so instrumental in improving our cycling lives may also be responsible for a turn in the wrong direction.

We are are price driven society. I won’t go into whether that it is good or bad. From an early age we have been ingrained with the “good deal” mentality.

Supersize Me! The cheapest is always going to be the better deal, right? The internet allows many people to see a wide range of products and prices from many places very quickly. Notice you can see the product online but you can’t compare it. There still has to be a brick and mortar storefront for a consumer to compare and experience the product before they buy it.

So, two negative things can happen because of this. The consumer buys online without even checking into the local offerings, or they use the local shops as a fitting station for the product that they want and then buy online.

Bad thing number one: The Consumer gets a sub par product
A person interested in bikes goes online and starts “shopping”. They will be inundated with many types of bikes in lots of price ranges. Some online bikes claim to be “direct from the manufacturer” so they offer big discounts. Ultimately the consumer probably chooses based on what bike looks coolest to them or has the best parts for the money. But there is a big issue with these “good deals”.

In the quest to be the cheapest quality goes out the window. We see it all the time. A bike is brought into our store that someone bought online and it needs to be assembled. The customer is normally amazed at how much we charge to “put together the bike”. Truth be told the online bikes are shoddily assembled at the factory and need much more attention than one of our premium brand bicycles.

Another problem that most internet shoppers never even know about is that their cheap bike frame rides terribly. It doesn’t matter how good the components are. You cant overcome a bad frame design. Legitimate companies invest a lot of money in R&D to make the best bike frame possible. This investment has to be recouped, therefore more upfront cost. Most unfortunate internet shoppers will not know the true joy of a well designed frame, but god love ’em they wont know the difference either.

Bad Thing Number 2: Local Bike Shops Loose Out
Amazon.com recently launched a free app called Price Check that allows consumers to use brick-and-mortar shops for research, then easily buy many cycling products online right from their mobile device.

Here’s how it works: when in our shop, consumers can scan a bar code, type in the product name or take a picture to see the product and prices from a variety of online retailers. After ensuring they have the right fit by trying on the product in store, and talking to our experienced staff, they can buy it from somebody else with the press of a button.

Who loses in this situation? Certainly not Amazon. And — at least in the short term — not the cycling brands selling through bike shops and Amazon. The local bike shops are the ones loosing out. Buying product from brands that severely undercut local brick and mortar stores just seems wrong to me. Amazon is clearly interested in the cycling space, and is hiring talent from the bike industry

Participating brands include Pearl Izumi, Shimano, Louis Garneau, Giro, Bell, Fizik, Sidi.

Whether the current news is mobile device apps or online discount stores, the underlying issue remains the same: some suppliers support the future sport of cycling and some do not. Highroller has made a commitment to the future of our industry and will only commit large amounts of space in our store to products that support the healthy growth of our business and industry.

You may say, “who cares if the local shops loose out?” I say you do. What happens when you need that cheap bike fixed when it ultimately breaks down, or when you have a warranty question. Good luck getting that bike fixed online. Consumers need us here to help guide them through the process of buying. We know the product and the nuances of it’s use. If the current trend continues we will see even more bike shops close their doors.

Before you get all worried, Highroller is coming off a very good year and 2012 is staring off well too. So thank you all for that. We don’t take it lightly.

Thanks for reading,
Branton

We all have different perspectives and experiences that influence the way we view the world. If you have comments on this topic I would love to hear from you.