Saturday, September 7, 2013

A Real, Professional Bike Fitting @ 3d Bike Fit in San Francisco

I have some fun stuff to post about tonight so I'll get the standard material out of the way quickly.

Food: strictly ok

I came home last Sunday and did weight training in my living room until midnight. Tri training is not normal so why should my activities be? Wednesday I rode the upright bike for 25 minutes (and increased to level 9 - woot!) followed by legs/shoulders/PT exercises. Thursday I did a 30 minute outside run and called it a day. Friday I rode my bike outside for 25 minutes followed by back/biceps/PT exercises.  But Friday is where it gets interesting so...

Guess what I did? I've been talking about doing this for months, if not years, and it's been suggested to me that I do it for at least that long... No, I did not fly to Mexico for a tummy tuck...I got a professional bike fitting. And when I say professional, I mean professional, as in, the two other people being fit at the same time as me were looking like hard-core serious type cyclists. And there I was.

How did this come about? You might remember me complaining about my hands going numb during any bike ride over 5 miles. It's so irritating. Every time I mention this to practically anyone that rides the first thing they ask is, "Have you been fit to your bike?" And no, they don't mean at the bike store where I purchased my bike. So after another frustrating bout of hand numbness I sent Neil a text asking where I should go, "Best bike fit, 3d BikeFit in SF." Done.

I arrived for my 3d Body Geometry Video Fitting (how fancy does that sound?!) with all my gear as instructed - bike, socks that don't cover the ankles, sleeveless top, bike shorts - and met my fitter, Ryan Moore.

How cute is Ryan?! Ahem, that's not relevant here.
Ryan is a bona fide serious cyclist who has been fitting bikes for about 5 years. We started with an interview, he asked about my riding habits, pain/discomfort issues, etc. He asked me how much I ride and I said, "Not much, I mean hardly at all really, maybe 10 a week." He responded by saying, "That's respectable," but I later came to believe he thought I meant 10 hours a week instead of 10 miles. Ha!!

Meanwhile I asked him about 3d BikeFit. He told me it was started by Kevin Bailey, who he calls the "Obi-Wan Kenobi of bike fitters." I had to say hi and snap a picture of him in action.

Uh, I think these people are a bit more serious about this whole cycling thing than I am :)
So after the interview Ryan started with the physical assessment part of the fitting. This is where I got schooled on why my form and fit on the bike is so, so wasteful (in terms of energy).

He showed me how my pelvis is supposed to be resting on my bike seat, that is, tilted forward and not on my butt bones.

Then he measured how far apart my butt bones actually are.

Turns out my stock bike seat will not allow me to rotate my pelvis forward like that, so a new seat was my first purchase of the day. And then he got to talking about ankles. Ankles are apparently an important issue in this whole cycling thing.

And feet, let's not forget about those. He measured the space under my arch and eyeballed assessed my feet and ankle parts from all angles.

He did some other stuff too but honestly, I can't remember. So then I got on what looked like a massage table (but sadly, no massage) and he measured my flexibility and whatnot.

Seriously, how official does all this look?! The best part was when he grabbed both my ankles and yanked, something about to see if both my legs did something-or-other the same. They did. In fact in most ways I was pretty normal in terms of anatomy and flexibility.

So, all this information in hand and I readied to get on the bike, all set up with my new seat.

Tillie gets an upgrade!
He also temporarily put on an adjustable handlebar thing so he could fine tune the bars on the fly.

When I said earlier this was a professional fitting I was not exaggerating. Before I got on the bike he placed markers on my joints - ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, wrist...

and also fitted my shoes with inserts that would stop my feet from rolling around inside my shoe (which, apparently, is not good)

and then finally had me get on the bike. So I'm on the bike and he fiddles with the computer a bit and then I see this...

First off, I have to admit I've been a bit emotional lately. But this almost made me teary. Who is that woman? Those arms, those, I look not like I do in my mind. This fitting turned out to be more than just a fitting, but a multi-hour dose of reality in terms of my size appearance.

During breaks in riding I was a bit preoccupied with my own image on the screen...

Bloggers have to be a bit self-involved right?
Anyway, I refrained from an emotional breakdown and instead told Ryan about my weight loss and blog and showed him my before pictures and then rattled on a bit about weight loss, food issues and body dysmorphia. Fun topics, I must be such a blast to hang out with, you know?

So the rest of the day was spent making adjustments, taking video and measuring, teaching me proper posture, more adjustments, more video and measuring, etc.

He had me ride at an easy resistance as well as more challenging and taught me more than I'd ever thought I'd need to know about being on my bike. And then voila! We were done.

I talked Ryan into a selfie with me...

before he took some final measurements...

and then I changed and spent more time staring at myself on the screen...

Alright, enough with the preoccupation with my body. Here's what I came for, a fit that doesn't put so much weight on my hands, that has me using the stronger parts of my legs and is kinder to my neck, shoulders and back...oh, and that also makes me look like I know what the heck I'm doing. Here's a before/after video of me on my bike.

The left (with no headband) is before, the right (with headband) is after. Notice a difference? My back, my elbows and shoulders, even my head position, all much improved and all intended to make my rides more efficient and easier on my body. Ryan had also recommended I switch to Shimano cleats and pedals but that kind of change is not in the budget right now. The good news is, when/if I do make the switch, he'll get the fit right for me.

Some take home notes from Ryan...
Your sacral angle was +10 deg and I was able to better match that with the rotation you are now achieving on the bike.  As you ride, try to focus on being mindful rotation the pelvis from the sacrum up to ensure that you have a neutral back. 

Remember these steps: 
1. pelvic rotation 
2. elongated back (shoulders back, clavicle up) 
3. Good elbow bend

For proper pedaling form, imagine that there's an egg under your forefoot and applying too much downward motion will break it, this will give a more efficient nice longitudinal pedal stroke with proper plantar flexion (but not to much).

So I left the shop and hopped on my bike to ride the one block back to my car and woah! I felt like I was riding on a cloud, almost no weight on my hands at all, it was an amazing difference. I couldn't wait to get on my bike for a ride. So that's what I did, I came home and went on a 25 minute ride (it's all I had time for) and then did some back exercises at the gym before it closed. The bike will take some getting used to, I have to use muscles I'm not accustomed to using. Because my fit was so off before I used weaker muscles, now I can use stronger ones, like my glutes, more. But they need to build up more strength to meet the demand. Not sure it was the best idea to make this big change just a few weeks before the tri but I'm sure I'll be fine, it's not like I'm Serena Williams with a new racket.

So Friday was also Myra's birthday and we had a big party for her today. I'll have to write about that in my next post because it's getting late. Hope you enjoyed reading about my bike fit! I sure had a good time getting it done. Thanks Ryan and 3d BikeFit!

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