Contributed by Bridget Webster, Bike Like A Girl RAAM 2015 team member. O2fitness is the official training partner of the Bike Like A Girl RAAM team, in their pursuit of a course record, and sponsor in their fundraising efforts for world-wide causes. Throughout my years of bike riding, I would say I’ve had a comfortable experience on my bike. I would often have aches and pains, but doesn’t everyone? Therefore, I never considered a bike fit.
When I was asked to join Bike Like a Girl, an eight woman bike team racing across America, I realized I needed every advantage available to me. Coach Julie Young, a former top U.S. bike racing pro, is one of those advantages. Julie’s impressive background of numerous international cycling wins and years of experience working with leading sports physiologist and coaches easily convinced me to follow her coaching plan and her advice to get a proper bike fit.
The purpose of a bike fit is to sit more comfortably on a bike, which allows for a longer and more efficient ride. If I was going to be part of a team racing over 3,000 miles in seven days through deserts, mountain ranges, and windblown plains, I needed to be as comfortable as possible.
Julie started the process with a pre-fit interview, which included the following questions and my answers:
- Number of years riding? A lot
- Any previous injuries? No
- Any pain while riding? Aching neck, searing toe pain, numb elbow, and knee and hamstring discomfort (Finally someone to complain to other than my poor husband!)
The next part of the bike fit was a flexibility assessment. In addition, my body angles on the bike were measured. As a result, my cleat position was moved back, I needed a wider saddle, my front stem was replaced with a stem that had a more forgiving angle, and insoles were put in my shoes to better support my arch and metatarsal bones. Julie also videotaped me riding before and after the adjustments, placing small sticky notes on my knees, hips, ankles, and shoulders. The sticky notes emphasized the key body parts for bike riding, and helped Julie determine whether or not I was maximizing my efficiency on the bike.
At the conclusion of my bike fit, I received a final detailed report of my before and after positions, the exact measurements of my final bike fit, video analysis of my pedal stroke, and other useful information. The entire process was very personable and thorough, and took about two to three hours to complete.
So, was I more comfortable on my bike after my bike fit?
I no longer need to bring aspirin on a long ride, and my toe, elbow, and knee no longer give me discomfort during a long climb. Best of all, my neck pain is gone. Getting a proper bike fit is the best money I have spent in a long time, and more importantly, I feel more prepared and confident for my upcoming race across America.