Winter – the best time for a bike fit?

With Summer behind us our busiest season draws to a close. The Winter is when we see most repeat bookings, from riders we’ve worked with in the past. Yet, ask these clients  when they think we’re busiest and 9 out of 10 will guess we are at our peak right now. So, why is it that their assumption is so often wrong…

…The first reason is actually fairly self-explanatory; Bike fitting is still, by the majority, seen as problem solving for cycling injuries and this is certainly a huge chunk of our workload. Helping to address the aches and pains brought on by the high volume and intensity that is often reserved for the summer months.

However, could many of these concerns be addressed preemptively? Who voluntarily goes to the doctor for a routine check-up, or a better analogy would be: who visits a Physio when taking up a new sport?

To give a different perspective, speak to anyone planning a long driving holiday and all-but a small minority will get their car booked in for a check-up and service ahead of the trip – rather this than break down on the side of the road in a foreign country.

So in this view, a bike fit in the winter can make a lot of sense for many reasons, of which I will outline a few:

For Leisure riders

  • Winter often sees ride distances reduced – not many of us can suffer more than a couple of hours when the temperature drops and these shorter rides are the ideal way to allow adaptation to occur due to changes made during a bike fit and allow the body to accommodate any revised ways of moving and working.
  • Almost all events for “recreational” riders are the in the spring and summer so this gives plenty of time to not only test your cycling position but also time to revisit and work through any revisions with your bike fitter if necessary.
  • Its much better to prevent injury than treat it – while we bike fitters don’t have a crystal ball, many red flags or injuries-waiting-to-happen can and will be picked up during a comprehensive assessment. Riding with your saddle 2cm too low or cleats improperly positioned can be quickly identified and rectified – the resulting knee strain from said poor setup may not be so quick to resolve.
  • Following on from the the last point; your bike fit consultant may suggest some cycling-related conditioning work to do away from the bike to help prevent injuries from muscular imbalances, inflexibility etc. Typically people find more time to do these exercises when they’re riding less and the weather is worse!

Enthusiasts

Winter sees a switch to turbo training or indoor cycling – indoor training, be it on Zwift, Trainer Road, Sufferfest or whatever your chosen platform of pain, turbo training is hard on the body. With most workouts focusing on intervals and maximizing bang-for-buck, trainer workouts involve lots of high-force efforts and little in the way of true respite. Add to this cocktail the increased popularity of “Erg” trainers such as the Wahoo Kickr and Tacx Neo and you have a recipe for indoor specific issues to arise. (We go through our 5 top tips to avoid this in our latest newsletter, if you would like to receive these click here).

Planning to spend some time in the gym? A bike fit is an opportunity to highlight any key areas to work on such as improving mobility or specific strength. We may set out a plan which sees progression in conditioning rewarded with improvements in your bike’s setup.

Competitive Riders

Due to the need for an adaptation period, mid-season changes to a rider’s position may not be desirable and, while we may suggest minor revisions in the lead up to big events and target races, more significant changes are often best suited to out-of-season. This period also allows for a more exploratory approach to bike fit, potentially testing more “drastic” changes in search for improvements.

So, if you’re thinking your cycling position may not be at its best, perhaps you’re considering changes in equipment or a choice of new bike, or are just starting to think about next year’s goals, now might be the best time to consult a bike fitter.

Mark

 

Who Wants New Shoes? Some Advice…

Header Shoes

As bike fitters, as you would imagine, we see a lot of cycling shoes and feet, of all descriptions. A very common question is “I’m thinking of buying some new cycling shoes, do you have any advice, my friend rides with x y and z?” or “there’s an offer on these cycling shoes, what do you think?”

There are hundreds if not thousands of blog posts, cycling news sites and You Tube videos reviewing shoes. Most of them talk about sole stiffness, closure type, width of shoe, material of the upper, ventilation, all of which are great topics, however one of the most important subjects is almost always never talked about, and that is cleat position. This is vital to a bike fit and overall comfort and performance for the rider.

We typically see 5-6 brands of cycling shoes, Shimano, Specialized, Fizik, Sidi, Giro, Mavic. Of course there are many others, but these tend to be the most common. These are all great shoes, very good quality, range of sizes and colours. However…..there are a number, which, are better overall…..when it comes to cleat position and comfort as a result of this.

This is when it gets interesting, and I will expect a good few comments from this… 🙂 On average, if we see a rider with foot problems and sometimes calf discomfort, they will generally be using a shoe from Sidi and Fizik. Why? ….Fore Aft cleat position is to blame. As I mentioned above, the reviewers often do not talk about this, and many riders base their purchases around these reviews. Sidi and Fizik position the cleat holes, quite far forward on the shoe, in other words, towards the toes. In the last couple of years, the Fizik cleat position has improved and they have provided a slot for the threaded part to slide back and forth, but are still placed too far forward on the shoe. Sidi, I believe, have not changed for a while.

sidi-shot soleinfinito-r1-black-black_bottom_5

Shimano, Specialized and Lake Cycling shoes, on the other hand, offer very good fore aft adjustment. Other decent shoes, in this regard are Giro, and sometimes Mavic. In a simple size comparison, Euro 44.5, there is as much as 15mm difference between a Shimano shoe and a shoe from Sidi or Fizik. You might be thinking…15mm….that is nothing….but it is a huge difference at the shoe, as this is the only place on the bike that you are truly locked into and all the power goes through. Take a look at the photos below of Specialized, Lake and Shimano shoes, note how far back the cleat holes are:

This can make a massive difference to foot comfort and power delivery to the pedal. Our clients sometimes describe the sensation of their toes having to grip the inside of the shoes in a claw like fashion, when climbing or under load, we like to call this “angry toes” This can often lead to the inner soles being completely worn through from the toes digging in, trying to hold onto the inside of the shoe! Whereas this is hardy ever a problem with shoes offering a more rearward cleat position.

One other thing to note, is that the offerings form Sidi and Fizik are not “foot shaped”, they are typically narrow towards the front of the shoe, which can squeeze the toes together.

Again the shoes from Lake, Specialized and Shimano are more “foot shaped” allowing the toes to spread out and relax.

Of course this is not an exhaustive post about all the foot injuries, shoe types and brands, and nor is it meant to take anything away from Sidi and Fizik, but just giving the rider some more information which is not often spoken about, and the ability to be able to make a more informed decision before purchasing a pair of sparkling new shoes.

If you have any questions about your shoes or feet problems whilst cycling or are looking to purchase a new pair, drop us a comment and we will try our best to advise you.

 

 

Winter Training Rides

Hey Everyone! Hope you’re all well and fit!
Vankru Tuesday ride will be on tomorrow, however there will be a slight change to the normal ride. It looks like it’s going to be very cold and probably some ice. So we are suggesting to meet at 11am at the top end of Poles Lane (the Hursley village side). It will also be slower than normal, average speed to be between 25-27km/hr, and only for a couple of hours. We are suggesting a flatish route to Leckford, for a coffee, then back to Hursley.
See you there!

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Physical assessment in a digital age

In my eyes a thorough off-bike assessment has always been a key part of the bike fit process, an opinion also voiced passionately by Garth. Nowadays, as our routine of postural checks and exercises has grown and evolved, we seldom find ourselves writing anything less than a short essay on our findings, keen not to leave a single detail unrecorded.

As with any observation based assessment, the biggest challenge has always been providing the athlete with a clear impression of exactly what they’re doing – right or wrong. “Did you know you drop your knee in and rotate at the hips during a squat?” It’s one thing having it explained to you, quite another to watch yourself back. Today’s mobile phones make this a simple process with super HD, slow motion video available at our fingertips.

However, with Bodywatch, the team at EuMotus (a group of boffs from Harvard university) have created a system that not only records an athlete’s exercise patterns, but through the use of markerless infrared technology, assesses them for symmetry, stability and range of movement. Scored against a set of industry standard criteria, the athlete is provided with a detailed report which highlights area of concern and where improvements are recommended.

This in itself is a fantastic step forward in the accuracy and repeatability of our assessment. However, the real secret weapon of the Bodywatch system is its ability to give muscle balance recommendations. With astonishing accuracy, Bodywatch uses the results of the performed routine to compile suggestions of under and over active muscle groups. Having tested the system for several months now as well as in talks with physios and other sports therapists, we’ve found the results to provide fantastic and reliable insight. And our clients are loving the detail of the report they get to take away.

We’ll have plenty more to write about in the coming months as we continue our use of the Bodywatch with our bikefit clients so watch this space…

Mark

One of the worlds top triathletes, Vicky Holland comes in for a bike fitting.

Wow, what a pleasure to have met Vicky Holland! And an absolute privilege to do her bike fit.

When an athlete lets you make changes to their bike, suggestions and position its very trusting and something that I’m lucky enough to do as a living, especially for an athlete that makes her living from her sport and is hoping to win at Rio 2016.

Vicky is having a brilliant season having won two World Series Triathlon championships, Cape Town and Edmonton and having gained Qualification for next years Olympic Games.

I was amazed to learn that Vicky had not had a bike fitting for 5yrs! For an athlete at that level, it could be the difference between winning and losing at the highest level.
This year Vicky has a new bike Sponsor, Dassi, and I was asked to go to Dassi HQ to do her bike fit.

As you can imagine I was as excited as a kid in a sweet shop, not only am I a great fan, but to work with an elite athlete that could win gold at Rio……that’s pressure!

There were some very nice changes to her position and recommended changes to some equipment.
It was a great afternoon and the results were great as only a couple of weeks later Vicky won in Cape Town.
I was excited and relieved to see that win….a great job by the whole team.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/triathlon/34170541
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/triathlon/32465644
http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/triathlon/34287971vicky-holland-02vicky-holland