Tricia's idea for my birthday present was to get me less "stuff" and instead get me something I would like, but wouldn't get for myself. She came up with the perfect idea: a professional bike fitting. Sure, I'd been riding bikes without one for many decades, but really, my adjustments used the classic "Hummm, feels OK, what the heck" method.
LanceOldStrong had his bike fitted by Wade Hall at Spokesmen Bicycles in Santa Cruz and raves about it, so Tricia contacted Wade and set up an appointment with the man we joking call "Bike Fitter to Stars."
The process was amazing. Wade made me feel like I was the most important project ever during the multi-hour session. Before even looking at the bike part I had body parts measured and tested that I didn't know I had, and still can't pronounce. There was lots of range-of-motion measurement, testing which muscles pulled which way with more strength, and how they worked, or didn't work together. I've had broken bones, been hit by cars and have other odd issues, so there was quite a bit of "hummmmmm" going on.
All my data, and the measurements from my bike's current set-up were loaded into a computer with a big-screen TV monitor. My saddle was mounted on a bike-like test contraption, buttons were pushed and the device moved the saddle fore-and-aft, up and down, then the handlebars around until it matched my existing bike. As I peddled two video cameras captured my motion from different angles. Wade used his measurements and what he saw to change the set up. At one point is was like an eye exam "Is this better, or is this more comfortable?"
Wade noticed things about my riding I wasn't aware of. At one point he asked if my peddling on the outside of my foot caused any pain. I didn't know I was doing that, but after he added a Specialized shoe insert I could tell I had been, and the new position was a lot more neutral. When I commented the the arch support seemed a bit far forward he explained that, yes it was, and that was because of the difference between running and cycling. Later, out on the bike, I could tell he was right. It felt great, even though just standing on the floor it felt very odd. Bike magic!
Wade made a few other changes as well. I had my saddle pushed as far back on the rails as it could go. He moved it forward significantly, then changed my stem to a longer one. That kept my cockpit about the same size, but changed my position over the pedals. Most importantly, the new stem is white and looks totally cool, not that I'm shallow or anything.
My bars came up just ever-so-slightly, which loses me some cool-dude points (and I don't have many to spare) but does in fact feel better and let's me ride in the drops more comfortably. He also recommended I change my right side knee saver peddle extender from 25mm to 30mm to compensate for my oddly aligned right leg.
Most exciting for me is the stuff that we talked about that he'll explore. My left arm is shorter than my right. I've compensated by moving my shifter higher on the left, but it isn't enough. Wade is looking into 3-D printing a block that would sit on the shifter and raise the height just the right amount. He also thought that modifying a tri-bike aero arm rest might be possible for changing the distance I reach in the drops.
It's all very exciting. On a 32 mile test I rode through Santa Cruz with Tricia the bike felt very natural. I tried to not think about it too much and to just ride, because anything new always feels weird. The only annoying part was that at first I thought I wanted my saddle pointed nose-up just a tiny bit. But I promised myself a couple of hundred miles before I even think about making even a tiny change. Indeed, after riding the next day, even the saddle angle started to seem fine.
Tricia met me at the shop and we rolled through Santa Cruz and up Highway 1 to try the new fit. We had one route in mind, but when we got to Bonny Doone and saw a sign that read "Winery 3 miles" she said "Hey!" Neither of us realized that the three miles was up a 10% grade. This isn't the first time she's done this, the biggest being the "Let's turn here and add on" that took us 7 or 8 miles up an 8% grade to Timberline Lodge and ski area in Oregon.
It was a nice climb, and when we reached the winery I thought I'd buy a bottle and stash it in my water bottle holder. Alas, I forgot to bring my wallet. No wine for us. Tricia took it well, despite her glum look in the photo, and we headed back to Santa Cruz.
Back in October on the Veteran's Victory Velo ride our Bikeforums friend Marco Polo invited us to stay at his home in Carmel and then ride the next day after our Santa Cruz adventure. So that's what we did. After a wonderful dinner, a great bottle of Syrah, a fun visit with Mark and his wife Lisa (and
I knew we'd be riding in a nice area, but I'd been so focused on the bike fit I hadn't given our Sunday ride much thought. Holy smokes, the 17 Mile Drive is beyond stunning, and seeing it by bike makes it that much better. It's such a treat to be along the ocean, feel the sea breeze and hear the waves crashing on the beach. Mark made it even better by being our tour guide and providing interesting historical tidbits along the way. I'm usually a keep-moving don't-stop rider, but Sunday I kept pulling over just to be amazed. I'm lucky I didn't run into anything as I played tourist.
|Mark explains it all|