I have the opportunity to work with the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling team, supporting their efforts in the pursuit of excellence, with bike fitting, physiologic testing, and as a source of information on training and recovery strategies. Below is a post from the team's director, Trevor DeRuise on the importance of bike fitting for his athletes.
Cyclists are very well known for going to incredible lengths to squeeze a little more speed out of their bikes. Shaving a few grams off of a competitive bicycle can literally costs thousands of dollars and deliver such marginal improvement that it’s easy to wonder if the investment is really worth it. Curiously, one equipment upgrade that so many people overlook is a professional bike fit. For a fraction of the cost of a new carbon wheelset, a professional bike fit improves performance, comfort, and protects riders against overuse injuries.
While any cyclist can benefit greatly from a professional bike fit, I would say this service is exceptionally important for junior cyclists. The reason is that junior cyclists are constantly growing. With this, their fit is constantly being altered even if nothing on the bike is actually changing. In order to both prevent injury with their young joints as well as maintain optimal performance and comfort, having fit assessed throughout a junior cyclists season is paramount.
As the 2015 season nears for the Reno Tahoe Junior Cycling team, we were privileged to have our athletes visit Silver Sage Sports and Fitness Lab for pre-season fits, with Julie Young, before training really got underway. Having come off a 3 month off season, it was apparent that several athletes were already in need of raising their seat height. This was just the tip of the iceberg though, as every angle of the athletes body was then measured and analyzed in order to create optimal muscle recruitment through every pedal stroke, prevent overuse injuries in the knees, and provide optimal comfort for long rides.
During the fit process, other fundamental yet incredibly important things like pedal technique were also taken into consideration. Focusing on all of the small things that are often overlooked like this early in the season can help young athletes create good habits and allow them to get the most out of their training while minimizing injury risks.
I understand how challenging junior racing can be for families from a financial standpoint. With this, I’ve never been one to recommend “buying” performance in the shape of fancy carbon parts or new bikes every season. Instead, I recommend finding the potential of your rider’s current setup through a proper fit and analyses. At the junior level, the most important thing is keeping the rider safe, efficient, and letting them fall in love with the sport.