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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