Bike Fit

April 28th, 2015

After my last race in 2012, Thom and I switched to mountain  biking and did that pretty exclusively for two years or so.  In the fall of 2014 we started riding our road bikes again.  On nearly every ride my lower back, just on the right side, would become painfully tight and the ride became a sufferfest.   However, it didn’t happen every ride and that made it harder to decide how to fix it.  At first we thought I just needed more saddle time.  Next we tried changing out the stem.  Then I switched bikes, stopped riding the Cervelo and switched to my Rivendell.  I would have  a pain free ride followed by two or three sufferefests.  Naturally, I became less excited about riding my bike.  When I ended a training ride early and couldn’t do the run that was suppose to follow it, it became obvious I needed to go to a professional fitter.  I had figured out that the pain would start after I had spent any time in the drops.  I did one ride with all of my descending on the hoods.  It wasn’t fun.

I scheduled my fitting for the last Friday of Spring Break and I took both bikes in.  The fitter, Andrew, spent a long time asking questions about my riding history and injuries.  We started the fitting working on the Cervelo and my shoes.  Your body only connects to the bike in three places – hands, feet and butt.   There is only so much you can do with hands and butt.  I’ve discovered just how important that foot connection is.  Andrew started making little tweaks to my saddle position and I would ride in the drops and see how quickly I could make my back hurt.  Then he put some shims under the cleats in my shoes and we experimented with those.  Last, he put shorter cranks on the bike.  Oh my!  I’ve always had a slight ache in my knees when I ride.  I figured it was normal and just part of how I was put together.  I’ve always used my knees as the reason I can’t ride a larger gear.  I can leg press 450 pounds (3 sets of ten!), so it couldn’t be strength holding me back.  It had to be joints.    Shorter cranks = no knee ache!   After about 4 hours, the Cervelo was done.  We didn’t spend much time on the Riv, as the biggest changes came from the shims in my shoes and the shorter cranks.   We’ve since put shorter cranks on the Riv as well.  The Riv is now back in the trainer and I’m riding the Cervelo outside.

I’ve done two bricks (bike/run) on the Cervelo since the fitting.  The back pain has not come back and the bike feels easier to pedal.  When I compare the last brick I did before the fitting, to the two rides I’ve done since, my average speed over the same 17 mile stretch of road has increased by one mile per hour.  That’s 5 minutes faster for a 17 mile  hilly stretch.  In addition, I’m not working as hard. Pre fitting my average heart rate over that section was 149.  Post fitting rides,my heart rate was 141 and 136.  Faster with less effort.   A heart rate of 149 puts me into zone 4 and that was my average, not my high.

Finally, I have to say that my runs on my brick days seem to be easier post fitting.  This last run, my quads didn’t feel very heavy at all.  I have been doing the exact same route each time.  Pre fitting I did the 30 minute run at a 12:40 pace and an average heart rate of 161.  My last brick run was at a 12:36 pace and average heart rate of 154.  However,  I am also doing a lot more running during the week than I have ever done before, so it could be attributed to better training.  Gee, I’m actually following Coach Rob’s plan.  🙂

When it’s all said and done, I’m really happy with how my training is going.  I’m tired most of the time, but it’s a good tired.   Work is even more stressful than it had been before I started training with state testing and the usual end of the year craziness.  Yet, it’s easier to shake it off when I know I need to go for a run or a ride after work.


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