Saturday, June 22, 2013

A Custom Fit

by Meghann on June 22, 2013

I am the world’s biggest procrastinator.

When I first bought my beautiful Felt B16 back in January, they did a quick fit for me on the bike and told me to come back in 30 days for a full custom fit. Since I had never ridden in aero position before – or even been on a tri-bike before – they wanted me to get comfortable on the bike first and figure out what I liked, didn’t like, or where problem areas were before the full fit. That way I could come back and have an idea what I’m looking for. They didn’t even cut my aero bars down, assuming I would be back soon enough.


Ummm… yeah. That didn’t happen. Life got in the way and all of a sudden it’s June and I still hadn’t gone back for my custom fit. Oops.

For anyone who is unaware what a “custom fit” is for a bike, it’s where they adjust the bike (seat, handlebars, aero bars, etc.) to mold to your body to get the most comfortable/ aerodynamic experience out of your ride.

It took one good friend’s hassling of me needing to get it done to finally get back to the bike store for my fit. He was even the one who made the appointment for me! Talk about a good friend! So last Wednesday between fitting in my last ride before leaving for Chicago and seeing Spirit of the Marathon II, I headed to Flying Fish Bikes off MacDill for my custom fit.


Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of my actual experience, but it was such a great experience (and I could seriously feel a difference on my bike ride yesterday), I wanted to write about it.

Flying Fish has this really cool computer bike fitting software that takes video and measurements as you ride. They hooked my bike up to the trainer, then took video of me riding from the side and front in 30 second increments. Once he had the video, he would do screenshots and measurements of my angles to see where I’m at compared to where I should be.


(From Flying Fish Bikes Facebook)

Before I even hopped on the bike, the specialist walked me through some flexibility exercises to see where my flexibility was and base where my measurements should be off of that. As predicted I have zero flexibility in my hamstrings and am crazy flexible in my shoulders. He also asked what I was training for. Apparently there’s a difference in what kind of fit you get based off of whether you’re doing sprints or endurance races. I told him I’m training for my first Ironman and will be spending a lot of time on my bike for the next 20 weeks.

I’ve been really lucky (KNOCK ON WOOD) to not have any major pains on the bike. My seat hasn’t bothered me and my back/shoulder generally feel pretty comfortable. However, I do have a problem with my knees turning out when I ride. I thought it was because my bars needed to be cut, but after watching me ride, the specialist pointed out that my knees are nowhere near hitting the bars and are naturally turning out. Since you typically want your knees in a straight line when you ride, he inserted some wedges in my cleat to tilt my feet up and make my knees go in a straight line.


As soon as he put them in I could feel an immediate difference in the way I rode. My knees were going in a straight up and down line, instead of a circle. This will save me from having problems with my knees later on, as well as provide a more efficient pull and push during my ride.

Once he fixed my legs, he moved to the angle of my back, adjusting my seat up and down to get a straight line, then to my shoulders where he worked on tilting my bars up and down to make sure sure my elbows were right below my shoulders in aero position, and I could just rest my hands on the bars instead of feeling the need to grip them.


(again, not me, but the basic idea of the measurements he was taking after each adjustment)

After all the adjustments, my bike fit me like a glove. I felt really comfortable just sitting on the trainer and couldn’t wait to take my baby out for a ride. I left my bike at the shop over the weekend to get the bars cut and a tune-up. I picked it up as soon as I got in town on Monday and was finally able to take it out for its first ride yesterday.


Wow. I’m wasn’t sure how much of a difference a custom fit could really make, but trust me, it does! Not only was I more comfortable on my bike, but I could feel the difference with how efficient my pedaling was. The ride just felt smoother and I wasn’t as worn out keeping a certain pace for so many miles. I wasn’t exactly Speedy McSpeedster all of a sudden, but I did feel a tiny bit more confident pushing myself.

Before my fit I felt like I was struggling to find a comfortable position on my aerobars. I had to stretch out to put my elbows in my pads and thus gripping my bars to hold on. Yesterday I fell naturally on top of the pads and didn’t have to hold onto the bars at all. See how my brother is just casually resting his hands on top of the bars in the photo below?

Screen shot 2013-06-22 at 3.33.01 PM.png

That’s what I was like for the majority of my ride and it felt great.

I was on the bike for almost three hours yesterday and while the space between my shoulders was a tiny bit sore, I wasn’t in pain anywhere. I came off the bike still feeling good.

Before my ride, I fueled up with a stack of greek yogurt pancakes with almond butter and berries.


So. Good. I love having a full meal before a long ride, a snack just doesn’t cut it.

For fuel on the ride, I filled one of my three water bottles up with gatorade, had two of the new PowerBar fruit blends (LOVE these!), and a Clif Bar.


I was making great time…. right up until the time it started raining. It POURED the last 5 miles. Not fun.


I had planned to run a couple of miles afterwards, but I was done at that point. Rain sucks.

I rushed home and made a Cherry Chocolate Spinach Smoothie.


This cup x2!

Want to know what helped me get through the long ride? Knowing I had a massage appointment that afternoon. With Ironman training, I’m thinking about joining one of those monthly massage places. The membership rates aren’t terrible and the perk of having a massage every month is a great carrot to dangle in front of myself to stick with it (especially when the rides/runs get longer and longer).

Has anyone ever done on of those memberships before? Thoughts?

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