Fine Tuning

The fitting on the bike took place a couple of weeks ago. I was asked by the fitter how things went on the bike. And here is my report. Yes, it is detailed. I can be a detailed kinda guy.

From: Richard Cleaver
Date: Mon, Jul 16, 2012 at 7:04 PM
Subject: Re: Bike Fit
To: Mark

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your note.

Here are a few details on the first two rides.

I did two loops over the week-end. And, as per your advice, I took it easy (easier) on both days. On Saturday I did a 30k loop. I kept my cadence up (92 -95 rpm) and my heart rate down (118 average) on the 30k loop. My pace on this ride was well below my average. I was at 23.8 kph average for this loop. I would generally do this loop at 27 kph average.

On Sunday I went a bit longer and I kept the cadence at the same level (92-95 rpm) and pushed the heart rate a bit more (138 bpm average) and brought the average up to about 26 kph.

Here are my observations after the two rides.

Positives:

Excellent connection with the bike! I was shocked at how different the feel was on the machine. The lower body felt really connected to the frame. Saddle position and overall lower body feel was terrific except for the feet — more on that in a moment. Leg position and pedal stroke felt far more “coordinated” — I did not get a sense that I was leading or pushing with a dominant right leg.

I did not push really hard on either ride so I cannot comment on sprints. I kept to the granny gears going up the hills and I remained seated so I cannot comment on climbing. Interestingly enough, cornering felt way better on the bike. For want of a better term, I felt closer to the bike and I really noticed it on the turns.

I was really, really happy with the feel on the bike.

Challenges:

There were a couple of challenges on the ride. One was what you and I had discussed in terms of my reach and my hands. When I ride I do “reach” for the hoods. And with the change in position, I really noticed a strong fatigue on my left arm specifically around the elbow. After about 25kms or so that left arm was annoying. No pain. Just that annoying tingly sore sensation. It felt like I was “gripping” too tightly and building up muscle tension likely from reaching out to the hoods. Did not notice anything on the right arm. Just on the left and localized around the elbow so I suspect I was “locking” that arm and putting too much weight and tension on that side.

We did a lot of work on the feet through the fitting and unfortunately the hot spots still had their way. One thing I had meant to ask you during the fitting was whether the width of the shoe was an issue and if the hot weather might also be having more of an impact this year. I have been out riding almost every day including all of the 30C+ weather days. I suspect my feet are swelling during the ride and this may be having an impact on the hot feet. On the two rides over the week-end, I loosened the bottom two velcro fasteners. Wiggling the toes helped a little bit and paying attention to pedal pressure helped a little bit but the hot spots were present in both feet. Onset was concurrent for both feet and came on after 10kms or so. I do ride with thin, lightweight cycling socks.

Well Mark, I am sure that my feedback was a bit too detailed. Bottom line, I am really pleased with the position changes on the bike. Perhaps we need to deal with that handlebar situation to ease the forward reach to the hoods. And I’m not sure what to do about the feet. New shoes? New pedals? Give things a bit more time?

Thanks again for a terrific fitting session. I thoroughly enjoyed the time and I really appreciate your thoroughness and attention to detail.

Richard

I am currently on vacation or, more precisely, stay-cation. A few things to get done around the house and a lot of riding on the bike. I went back to the fitter yesterday after logging another 400 kilometers on the bike after the first fit.

Turns out that the hot spots were temporary. The challenges with the left arm continued. The left foot would go numb after about 25 kilometers on the bike.

We wound up putting one of these on the bike:

A 3t Ergonova Pro Road Bar.

The lowdown on this handlebar:

The ERGONOVA sets a new standard in comfort riding. The top of the bar is egg-shaped and the longer radius provides a wider top surface for the hands. The egg shape rolls through 180 degrees at the bend into the forward extension, placing the palms naturally onto the brake hoods and ergonomic drops. The ERGONOVA is compatible with clip-on bars — the flat top surface provides excellent support for the forearms to rest on. Rider comfort is optimized in any riding position, at no cost to performance. This compact bar is available in PRO and TEAM variants and also in a 38 cm width, making it ideal for smaller riders. ERGONOVA: the new standard in ergonomics.

We also tweaked the shims on the left foot and moved the placement a little more forward on the pedal.

This was my update to the fitter today.

From: Richard Cleaver
Date: Tue, Jul 24, 2012 at 1:43 PM
Subject: Fine Tuning
To: Mark

Hi Mark,

I was able to get to a longer ride this morning.

The ride was 60 kilometers. Average pace was 26kph. Average heart rate was 124bpm. And the average cadence was 88rpm. So a pretty good loop to comment on the fit.

Comments

  • Absolutely LOVE the new bar! Fits me like a glove and it feels great. No pain or discomfort from the left arm.
  • Please tell Tim that he did a terrific job on the drivetrain and the cables. And thank him from me. I have been riding the Specialized S-Works Roubaix for four years. Today was the first time that I had experienced near effortless shifting on this bike. It was like riding a different machine. Feedback from the braking and shifting levers was excellent — very tight and responsive.
  • The black tape on the handlebars did make me go faster. I had suspected all along that the red tape was slowing me down 🙂 On a more serious note, I did find that I was driving a harder gear using the same effort (cadence/heart rate). Perhaps the fit and tuning the drivetrain helped to make a difference?
  • A few words about the left foot. I did experience some light numbness after 45 kilometers or so of riding. Before we made the change yesterday, the numbness would kick in after 20 kilometers and it was very annoying. Today the numbness was quite mild and it was easily cleared with some toe wiggling. I will see how it goes after another couple of hundred kilometers. Perhaps we might need to make an additional adjustment?

Many thanks Mark for your great work. I feel so much better on the bike — connected and positioned in such a way that I am thoroughly enjoying the kilometers.

Richard

Looks like I might have a bit more fine tuning to get the fit just right. And, just when I have the fit really dialed in, it will be time for a new bike.

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