I have harped on a little bit about the difficulties of fitting training around work/children/life, so won’t do it again here, suffice to say, it continues to be a challenge. And I am raising my eyebrows at myself as I know it’s going to get MUCH worse in the months to come. But there are some things that I think are really important to make time for, which I am sure will make a big difference in the long run, one of those being getting a proper bike fit. It can be uncomfortable enough sitting on a bike for a couple of hours if you are in the wrong position, but if I am to spend potentially somewhere in the region of 8-9 hours on my bike in the race (everyone else will be spending considerably less time than that but I suspect I may be the slowest cyclist in Wales) I need to be comfortable. Not to mention the time I am going to spend cycling in training. I should also mention that being in a proper position when cycling can take significant minutes off your time, but if I’m honest, this is less important for me than comfort.
I’ve mentioned that I am the proud owner of a shiny new bike which has rarely been outside due to us living in Scotland and winter lasting for 6 months. I don’t mind cycling in the cold, but sheet ice is a bit hazardous, as is darkness (see Indoor Cycling). The new bike (a LIV – which are, essentially I think GIANT bikes made specifically for women) is carbon framed and weighs about 2g. It has fancy ‘tubeless’ tyres which are apparently much less likely to puncture. Excellent news indeed, although if they do puncture, I’m f**ked, as I have no clue what to do in that situation. Even the wheels are fancy and wide rimmed so that, I assume, means they make me go faster, although it also means they catch the wind a bit, so when I have made it outside and it’s been a bit windy, it makes for nail-biting descents down hills. I also now have tri-bars, so I can tuck right down when I’m riding. For me this is really useful as an extra position to be able to employ for comfort reasons rather than necessarily speed. I use them regularly during turbo sessions, but out on the road, it adds yet another element of danger/anxiety, especially when I am down on them and then a car comes from the other direction, causing much flailing and swerving before I regain control in a normal upright position. But I am persevering. Much to the embarrassment of Jamie who has informed that tri-bars are totally not for social rides and much frowned upon should they find themselves there. I have explained that I need to keep them on my bike so that I can practise as much as possible with them but I know he is rolling his eyes and keeping his distance on any group cycling we do. It would be fair to say I am not a bike connoisseur (Jamie identified the bike I needed) and the phrase ‘all the gear, no idea’ rightly springs to mind. But that’s the one I’ve got, and I am a little bit in love with it.
But I digress. I’m supposed to be talking about my bike fit. I had a bike fit for my last trusty old hand-me-down bike and it made the world of difference. It was organised by one of our fellow club members who has a friend who does professional bike fits, but is based in England. He came up for the weekend and a whole bunch of us in the club got excellent use of his services. I cycled to that fit, then cycled home again, and felt the difference immediately. However, given that he sadly wasn’t planning another trip up north, I needed to look elsewhere to get a fit for my new bike. Lovely as it is, I knew I wasn’t sitting in quite the right position. A fellow club member (and proper cyclist), Craig, posted in our Club Facebook page that he’d just had an excellent fit with Drew Wilson of VisualBikeFit Glasgow. Drew is an ex-professional cyclist who, not only is a previous multi-Scottish road champion, but has also represented Scotland at 3 Commonwealth Games. And he has a studio at the bottom of the famous Crow Road in the Campsie Hills, in Lennoxtown, just north of Glasgow, and where we regularly cycle, weather permitting. Perfect, I thought, I can cycle out, have the fit, then cycle home and appreciate the difference.
As it happened, the weather was so freezing that I needed to drive there in the end. Previously I would probably have taken my chances but the roads were covered in ice and I need to be a wee bit more careful of avoiding injury (and death) now. And my goodness me it was worth it. The fit took 2 hours and involves not only Drew making all sorts of measurements and adjustments to the bike, but really taking the time to get to know you as a person and rider, to understand what your needs are for the bike and your time on it. And it’s astonishing how much more comfortable you can feel when things are in the right position. I had a short cycle outside to try out the new set up, but it was genuinely so freezing that I had to turn back before my fingers fell off – however even from that short distance it was clear how much better things felt. Unfortunately I still haven’t had the chance to get a proper ride outside with the new set up, but I have spent a reasonable time with it on the turbo and so far so good. Certainly I would recommend a proper bike fit to anyone with a new bike (or indeed an old bike that hasn’t been fitted to them yet).