I’ve been riding Lucy, my TriBike, for about 7 months. Prior to purchasing it, I got a professional fit done by Darryl at Pearland Cycles. After picking it up, we tested a couple of saddles and did some additional fine-tuning of my overall body position. Since that time, I’ve spent a lot of hours in the saddle. I have only changed two pieces of hardware, I bought another saddle and installed power pedals. Both have made a world of difference.
At the time of purchase, the difficulty with getting an adequate fit was that I didn’t know how I should feel on the bike. I’ve never ridden a tri bike, or had any experience riding in the aero position. What I did know was that my ass never stopped hurting. Everyone would say, give it time, it gets better.
I didn’t get much better. In addition, as I pushed my rides to 60, 80, and even 100 miles, my shoulders would get increasingly sore for days afterward. Again, I assumed that I was the issue, my body needed more time to adapt. So, I kept pushing through the discomfort (even pain at times).
Enough is enough
A few weeks ago, I experienced more discomfort than I thought is necessary and thought that it was time for me to get another bike fit by a different person. After the long ride that morning, when I took a piss, it was tinted red which alarmed me. I knew that my instinct to get another fit was right on time.
After speaking with several long-term triathletes, the name Tad Hughes came up as the best fitter in town. I looked him up and made an appointment. The first thing that he did was set my bike up and ask me to get on and just ride for a little while. The room was wired with cameras. He watched silently, from the front, back, and around each side, then writing notes at his computer.
Before speaking, he drew a series of lines and angles on the screenshot below. Then told me although I am 6’2″, my proportions require a fit of someone taller. My torso is longer than my legs, but my bike fit is set up to force a rectangle onto a square space. This geometry is causing excess strain on my shoulders because my elbows are not extended out far enough. Instead of resting on my elbows, my body is leaning forward and I am constantly pushing back to prevent forward movement of my body. My shoulders are not open enough. My hip angle is greater because I have to arch my back to fit onto the aero bars. This results in improper fit on the seat and probably part of the cause of my pain on long rides.
He adjusted several things (seen in the screenshot below).
- My shoulder angle was increased by 10 degrees. He did this by changing my stem, which was too short.
- He moved my aero bars a little and rotated them slightly to increase my comfort. This is something I’ll fine-tune as I ride.
- He made custom insoles for my shoes. The pedals are flat and the shoes are flat, but the bottom of our feet (at least my feet) are arched. So, without adequate arch support, pushing down onto a flat pedal will end up causing my knee to rotate which will ultimately affect my hips and knees over time. The custom soles are designed to support my arch.
- He adjusted my cleats.
- He rotated my seat angle down a few millimeters.
- I immediately felt relief in my shoulders, I knew this would be a benefit even if nothing else made a noticeable difference today.
- The 1-2mm change in the seat angle was absolutely noticeable in my taint. I should feel much less discomfort. Or, it will take longer to become uncomfortable. Either is a win in my eyes.
- My extended leg angle has opened a few degrees too.
- Overall, I’m now a rectangle fit into a rectangular space.
I am eager to get some long rides and see how I feel before my first Ironman, Lubbock 70.3 at the end of the month.