Moving From Summer Into Fall

Moving From Summer Into Fall

As seen in The Racing Post – Oct 2016

As we move into September and our fall riding season, we leave a summer full of activities including the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, The Tour de France and some of our very own epic summer riding, racing and rallys. Every Olympic year, enthusiasm for sports and activity gets a bump. It helps push some to just off the couch and others into competition. Are you inspired to do more after watching the pros go at it? You may have been riding, training and even racing for months now. You may ask, how does that apply to my bike fit?

If you have been riding, training and racing all year, your body has almost certainly gone through some changes. Those changes can be both positive and negative. Positive changes may include weight loss, increased flexibility, increased strength and range of motion. As a result, these positive changes may allow you to attain a lower more streamlined position that you may not have been able to in the past or a change that allows you to put out a little more power. Your saddle may feel different than it did in the spring. From my own experience, as my flexibility and weight fluctuate, so does my comfort level on a saddle. Over the course of the year, your body may have resulted in negative changes as well. These changes could be the result of a crash or an off bike accident, a loss in strength or overuse injuries. Internal injuries, swelling and bruising can affect the way muscles contract and how the muscles move. The most common limiters I see in a rider post-accident are a misaligned pelvis and dislocated joints. Many times, chiropractic care or physical therapy can get you back into alignment and you are good to go. However, sometimes the effects of the crash linger for a longer period of time resulting in the need for some accommodation in your fit. Many riders this time of year have long since forgotten the core and stability work that was done last winter. Since you are riding so much now, you may have ignored the core and stability work. The lower body has become increasingly stronger while the upper body has weakened. This could create a host of issues on the bike as you compensate.

Accommodation of these changes can result in better adaptation of the body to the effects of training.
For those inspired by the pro events, it is common to want to “copy” positions the pros have in the pictures and videos. I feel fortunate to have received fit training from some of the best fitters in the business. My mentors and trainers actively work with and fit many of the pro athletes – both in cycling and triathlon. We have had many conversations about the positioning of pro athletes. Many times, photos show athletes from a perspective or angle that makes them appear higher/lower in the saddle or significantly higher/lower on the bars. In most cases, the pro athletes on the road maintain a 40-45 degree back angle with their hands on the brake hoods. There are outliers. The majority of the pro cycling peloton have an accommodated fit for some reason or another. They are human too. Frequently, I see riders that position themselves at 40 degrees or lower while on the brake hoods and almost never use their drops.

If you are making the leap into competitive cycling, keep in mind that your position will change over time. Just because you are pinning a number in competition for the first time, it does not automatically mean to drop your bars 3 inches. For a more positive racing experience, I suggest establishing a relationship with a fitter that understands competitive cycling, your goals, your wants, your needs and your limitations.

As we go into the fall, subtle changes to your position can yield more power, speed, comfort and efficiency.
Good luck to all who are racing in our State Road Championships in Ft. Hood, TX later this month.

Craig Fulk
Master Retul Bike Fitter
Advanced Pressure Analysis