Does my bike fit? Do I fit my bike?
Ever since I’ve had my bike I’ve had slight comfort issues. Nothing drastic, nothing that would cause me to stop riding, but riding over 200 miles a week on a fairly regular basis I was getting shoulder pains, numb feet and a very sore left wrist. So sore, sometimes, that I couldn’t use my left hand for a while after a long ride.
The bike fit was something I thought was only for professional riders, but after receiving some advice on moving my saddle, which strangely coincided with a very sore right knee, I bit the bullet and booked my Retul fitting with Master Fitter Garth Kruger of Vankru performance cycling in the leafy Hampshire lanes.
I’d been told I’d be there for around three hours, which I thought was quite long but I arrived early, excited to be there, especially when I saw this lot in the waiting room, I knew then I was in the right place.
The bike fit started not at all how I thought it would. Plenty of questions about me, my lifestyle (oops) previous injuries and problems, which side I slept on in bed???? Garth is a thoroughly nice man, the questions were asked in a non intrusive way with an explanation as to its relevance if I asked. Having lived for so long in France, decent customer service is something I often forget exists, so this was a refreshing change.
After a while I changed into my cycling kit, my bike was placed on the stand in the middle of the treatment room and I got on. As I pedalled away to warm up we continued chatting where I learned a reasonable bit about his background too. A very capable racer in his early days, he fell out of love with the sport for various reasons before finally coming back to it in a different guise.
Once the legs had warmed up I was covered in small, round, black and white dots to various places of my anatomy and clothing on both sides, shoulders, arms, legs, knees and shoes were all adorned before I was back into the pedalling mode. Harder this time, a good riding pace for several minutes before doing an effort for three or four minutes. Cooling down, the bike stand was turned around. A clever arrangement, the whole wooden stand just spins about on its axis as I’m still sat on the bike, and the whole process continues.
All the time, Garth is walking back and forth, looking, making notes, looking at his computer from time to time but more at me. He told me that he’d recently had someone in for a bike fit who’d had one done previously. She’d been on the bike and the fitter was only interested in getting his figures right. “Once it said 40% the item was ticked and he moved onto the next heading.” He doesn’t do it that way at all, the computer data is there as guidance, but with many years of experience its the good old fashioned mark one eyeball that does the majority of the donkey work, with the data being used to verify what he’s seen.
Watching myself on a computer screen as I pedalled didn’t really mean anything to me, but as I was turning the legs over he showed me that what he was seeing concurred with the computer, my position wasn’t right, my output wasn’t bad but would be better with changes in my position.
Just over three hours later I was finally finished. There had been significant changes made to the bike, stem length was different, saddle position vastly different, cleat position changed,
handlebar width changed and a few other bits and pieces that I can’t remember. There was no pressure from him to buy parts from him, but as I was a bit limited for time I did so.
I took my bike and headed down to the West Country where I was starting the Tour of Wessex 2015 the following day. I was a little worried that such drastic changes the day before the event started would mean I’d suffer, as bedding the changes in might take a while.
The difference was incredible. 335 very hilly miles around Dorset, Devon and Somerset over three days meant that my legs were tired but all of my previous ailments were no longer there. Day one, 106 miles, the longest I’d ever ridden. Not a problem at all, in fact the first 100 miles was my fastest ever ton by over 15 minutes. Day two, 117 miles, by far the longest I’d ever ridden in one go, was finished with no discomfort whatsoever, no numbness in my feet, no pain in my wrist, my shoulders felt as if I could carry on for another few hours. I just felt “better” on the bike, my posture seems to be more in tune with my machine. Day three was painful, but with over 110 miles and over 10,000 feet of climbing I think that was to be expected.
I really had thought that a Retul bike fit was only for pro riders, but the difference its made to my cycling has convinced me otherwise. I can’t recommend Garth highly enough, calm, professional and very easy going, my riding has been made so much more enjoyable because of him.