By John Painter, Burris Logistics – Fit Werx Team Member.
There is a frenetic pulse that moves backward through the peloton when the road turns upward. The acceleration starts at the front and moves like electricity through the group. You can hear it coming; the crunching of chains and cogs as the riders try to find the gear that will give them that perfect rhythm. It is a moment where panic can set in…the kind that can leave off the back if you aren’t careful.
I experienced this pulse on every one of the hills in the Lake Sunapee Road Race this past weekend, and came close to that dangerous state of panic on the first climb. This time, however, instead of standing up and stomping away on the pedals, I decided to sit on the saddle and focus on a smooth pedal stroke through the climb. My decision was driven by something I had discussed with Ian Buchanan on the previous day during my bike fit at Fit Werx. Among other details, we had discussed my climbing style while making a decision to switch to a different saddle. That bike fit was long overdue, and the results are exceptional.
Once we had spent some time with the pre-fit interview and measurements, the fit went right after the first point of contact of bike and body- the feet. I had come into the appointment hoping to find every way possible way to battle a tight IT band on my right side, and Ian was very responsive to my request. Not only did we replace an aging pair of black Sidi shoes with a new white-hot pair, but we filled those shoes with custom foot beds. I have always liked the Sidi brand for their precise fit; with the custom foot beds, the fit is unparalleled.
From there we went to the fully-adjustable fit bike, where my position was analyzed on a computer screen using video captured from both the side- and front-views. Ian tinkered with various positions based on angles that were not within acceptable ranges. It was during this time that we discussed my current saddle and how it didn’t seem to match my sit bones properly. After we had discussed my climbing style, I followed his recommendation to a different saddle. Shortly after that move, I was asked to step off the bike, while Ian made some larger changes to the overall size and shape of the bike. Upon clipping back in, I was in disbelief. My position was exceptionally comfortable; I might as well have been sitting at home in my favorite chair. The only thing missing was my pipe and favorite slippers. After a few other minor adjustments, the new position was now in the books and ready to be transferred to my noble steed.
While I watched Ian re-tape my new handlebars hanging on my new stem, I thought about how indulgent, yet entirely overdue, this entire experience felt. I clearly had the undivided attention of a seasoned professional as he did everything from properly align my new cleats and shoes to perfect the overall fit to my machine.
While it might be more exciting to walk out of a bike shop with a new pair of sexy carbon wheels, without a proper bike fit the rider is putting the (carbon) cart before the horse. My new position helped my find power in the climbs I never knew I had. The Lake Sunapee Road Race goes in the books as one of my best road races in recent history. I was in complete control of my efforts and have no doubt that much of that is due to how comfortable I felt on my machine.
I finished off my weekend by having a blast in the cat 3/4 race at the Barre Grand Prix. What could have been a painful time in the saddle as a result of Saturday’s efforts turned out to be a fantastic criterium. The combination of racing with outstanding teammates and feeling completely comfortable on my rig allowed me to uncork a sprint that made all the winter hours in the basement worth it.