"I don't need a bike fit" and other lies I've told myself.

Updated: Jun 18, 2020

It’s been years since I’ve ridden a road bike, because after I phased out of racing, I swore I would never ride one again. I had raced cross-country mountain bikes for many years and over half my time training was spent on the road- mostly due to convenience, trail conditions, or that I needed a specific type of workout (which can be difficult to do on the MTB). After I was done with racing, me and the road bike had an official, and not even remotely bittersweet, breakup.

But alas, this year, I decided I wanted to "get fit" again and then the weather kept being an a-hole, and every weekend there seemed to be a new group ride that I couldn’t attend, because I didn’t have a bike to ride. I Zwift’ed all I could, but my social side finally won over and I found myself down at Peak Cycles ogling the latest road bike technologies.

After my purchase (thank you Peak!!!), I decided that before I completed a proper “fit”, I should just get used to riding one again first. And anyway, I already knew how my bike was supposed to fit, I mean, after all, I raced and trained for a long time, and I "just knew" how it should feel. So we set it up with measurements from my previous bikes. Then I proceeded to ride around on it from January until now and... shocker... I had started to develop a few odd body issues. These included a deep nagging pain in my right hip, a spot on my sits bones that always seemed to stay sore, and a feeling that I couldn’t produce much power (and I had the power meter data to prove that one).

Luckily, one of my best riding buddies is also a bike fit specialist, with over 10 years of experience in Specialized Body Geometry fits. She was actually the first to notice on a climb up Lookout one day that the way I was sitting on my bike didn’t look right. I was wiggling around to find a good spot to sit while climbing- which, at the time, I thought was normal- but she was right, and it certainly didn’t feel good, either!

The Fit

With a plate of dark chocolate strategically placed nearby, we set my bike up for the fit, which included pumping up the tires and leveling it out perfectly with a bubble level.

Nicky Down using a level for Talitha Vogt's bike fit
using a level is the only way to ensure correct measurements

She then had me jump on and settle in to a pedaling momentum. She eyed my position and asked me if my shoulders ever get sore. (Which, yes, they did!) After stopping (the pedaling was to make sure that I settle into my natural position), she took out her measuring device and measured both sides. The right measurement was quite a bit different from the left side and she decided that my right leg was too far extended.

leg extended too much before bike fit

After measuring the fore/aft position (my knee location in relation to my pedal spindle), she determined that I was also way too far forward for the pedal position.

She then had me get off and lay down on the floor so she could look at my leg lengths after tugging on them a bit. She noticed that my left leg was slightly longer after doing that, which didn’t match up to my right leg being extended on the bike, but still was a great clue, nonetheless.

Then we looked at my knees. When placed together, there is a bit of a discrepancy in their height. We determined, based on other things I had also described, that it would be best for me to consult with a PT to work on some issues I’ve had in my hips (not just on the bike).

knee height discrepancy

So, after all that, we moved my seatpost down, my saddle back quite a bit, tilted my beloved Mimic saddle down 4mm (this saddle in particular tilts upward at the end) and inverted the stem on my handlebars. It almost looked like a new bike! Ok, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but there’s no way it could feel any better after all of that, was my first thought.

So, I jumped back on and immediately noticed that I was obviously more properly positioned on the saddle. I could even pedal without holding onto the handlebars. No more pressure in my shoulders. The pedals felt like they were just under my focused “power” position, and the handlebar drops felt perfect in my hands. She measured my knee angle at the bottom of my pedal stroke and also found that both readings had evened up and become closer.

better knee angle after bike fit

The final test was to take it out for a ride. Right away, it was pretty obvious that I was producing more power, even though I had just finished a pretty hard training block and was still technically in recovery mode from that. I rode up Dinosaur Ridge, doing easy repeats, and felt comfortable the whole time. I can’t wait to get rested up and see what I can do next week.

If you want to be fitted properly on your bike as well, go to this page to get Nicky's contact info and tell her I sent you. You will be in good hands with this experienced lady, who also happens to be a Leadville 100 finisher!

Talitha Vogt is a certified endurance and wellness coach with an elite racing background. She has 22 years of experience as a mountain biker, including 12 total years of racing and other events. Leveraging her wellness coaching experience, she provides custom-tailored training plans and accommodating coaching for women locally in the front range of Colorado and online for anywhere else in the world.

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