Have you seen those commercials on TV for the insurance company with Peter Pan with the tag line “It’s what you do?” Well, for me, its observing an athletes form, I’m a coach, it’ what s I do. Whether I am participating myself in an event or working as a volunteer at an event, I observe athlete form, but also when I am driving on the road and come across a cyclist, I take note of the form.
This past week, I drove past an adult male whose knees were way out to the side and an adult female who had some hip drop as each foot reached the bottom of the peddle stroke. Both might benefit from a Bike Fit from someone trained to do Bike Fit. There is more to proper bike fit than just saddle height for proper leg extension. It also involved the distance from the saddle to the handlebars/aerobars, the width of the handlebars/aerobars and the angle of your foot when clipped in. Bike Fit for a Tri bike is different than Bike Fit on a Retro bike and it will be different for different distance events. Your bike fit for a Sprint distance event will be different than your settings on the same bike for a long course event. Bike Fit for Sprint distance events is geared for getting the best fit for the most power. You are not on the bike long enough to have much discomfort, or have it for long. For Long Course events, the focus is on comfort.
There is more to Bike Fit than just getting in the saddle on a stand or trainer and having someone make adjustments to the bike. Proper Bike Fit should start with an interview between the rider and the fitter. The one doing the Bike Fit should be asking about your flexibility, back, butt, neck, knee, forearm and fingertip pain and tingling. From there, the Bike Fit should begin with the saddle and the hips. From there, the handlebars/aerobars and then the feet. Be sure to note the settings with marks or measurements that you record so if you make adjustments for different race distances, you can get each set up for each distance correct. Also, after your event, you can discuss the race results and how you felt with your Bike Fitter in order to “tweek” the settings.
Not every bike shop is equipped to do proper bike fit. Their “guy” might be able to set up a bike for a recreational rider who wants to ride with the family on the weekend at the bike trail but that does not mean their guy is able to do Bike Fit for a Triathlete. Be sure to ask about the fitter’s experiences with Bike Fit. There are actually courses and credentials one can get for Bike Fit.
David Hall is a USAT Level I certified Coach. Learn more about him at www.TriathlonCoachCT.com