I’m coming up to the big 3-0 this year and while I thought that the Olympic distance at the London Triathlon was going to be my celebration it hasn’t quite turned out like that. With a sore back and having to take everything back to basics I think trying to get round an Olympic distance tri is going to be out of reach this year unfortunately.
Luckily the opportunity for a different kind of challenge has appeared, one which I’m very excited about, and one which requires many hours in the bike saddle. Ever since I got my road bike a few years ago I’ve had a few niggles when riding long distances so what better time is there than now to get my bike fitted?
I found Foundation online after struggling to find a bike fitter in London. It seems that they’re in short supply and the other ones that are out there are either extortionately expensive and/or designed for pro-cyclists. Wei from Foundation will also come to wherever you are so you don’t have to trek across London with your bike.
After chatting on the phone and filling out an extensive pre-fit questionnaire Wei turned up on his bike with a huge bag of kit including a turbo and plenty of tools and spare parts. You don’t need a huge amount of space which is lucky as I live in a one-bedroom flat, just enough space to set up a turbo and to set up a few monitoring tools.
Very quickly Wei set up the turbo and got my bike ready to go by taking photos of the current set up and checking that everything was aligned correctly. Before jumping on the bike he had a look at my body mechanics, searching for any asymmetry and to see how my body moved. Apart from a very slight discrepancy between the length of my legs everything seemed to be pretty even which was a good start.
My new clip-in shoes were next for scrutiny. It turned out that I hadn’t done such a bad job setting them up (despite having no clue what I was doing) and they just needed a slight adjustment to make sure the cleats were in the right place so I could recruit equal power from my quads and hamstrings.
Once I was on the bike we started with the height of the saddle which apparently is most often the thing that people get wrong. Wei adjusted the saddle a few millimetres at a time going up and down from where it was and getting me to cycle fast at each height. It was amazing how much difference a few millimetres could make until I hit the sweet spot and the power through each pedal felt even and the whole pedal stroke felt smooth. Wei also tested my balance by asking me to come down into what was essentially a squat position (which is where we should be on a bike) and taking my hands off the bars but staying in the same position. If the saddle is correct then that position should be easy to hold without needing to shift in the saddle. We ended up with the saddle a few millimetres higher than where it had been.
The next was the handlebars and we played around with the distance between the saddle and bars as well as the height and angle of them. I’d been getting pain through my right shoulder on longer rides which looked like it was from the angle of the handlebars being wrong and the saddle being too low. We tilted the handlebars up a bit so I wasn’t reaching down for them and suddenly the pressure that I’d been feeling through my wrists disappeared. Wei fitted a new stem for my handlebars as the one I had on there wasn’t so adjustable and with a few more tests to double-check that everything was correct the fit was done!
Overall it took about 3 hours and it was so thorough and measured that I feel confident that this is now going to be the most comfortable bike I’ve ever had. Wei knows his stuff and is very good at explaining everything which is important for me. I like to learn about things as I go! He’s a triathlon coach and used to run cycle tours as well as working as a bike mechanic so you’re definitely in good hands. The hardest part about it was getting used to the feeling of riding on a turbo which I’ve never done before.
As a follow up I received a file containing all the pre-fit photos in case I wanted to revert to any settings and a spreadsheet containing all of the new measurements. All fits come with a follow-up session within 6 months to check the fit and see if any more adjustments are needed.
I’ve done a couple of short cycles with the new fit and the bike feels great. This weekend will be the first longer test so keep an eye on my Instagram to see how it goes.