The Great Fit Test

So yesterday I had my first bike fit followed up a fitness test by Ryan Oiler of Forward Motion Athletics. The fit itself takes a bit of time to measure leg length discrepancies hip angles, flexibility and a host of other tests that play out later as you actually get on your bike. Come to find out I have a longer femur on my right side, but a lower hip on the left. The outcome of which is my legs end up the same length. Considering the amount of abuse I have put my body through and the 7 broken bones it is no wonder it is a bit off here and there.

The second part of the fit Ryan made a couple of big changes to the way my cleats are aligned on my cycling shoes. This was to set the angles correct with some shims as well as moving the cleats forward directly over where I should be producing the most power.

The third part involved setting the saddle height correctly considering my hip angles and leg length. The end result was moving my saddle up a couple of centimeters. The combination of all this should result in a more powerful position that is also aligned correctly. Considering all the time spend cycling, you could potentially be putting yourself at some risk of injury if your alignment is all wrong. Not to mention riding slower with the same amount of effort. Speed is good, especially if you don't have to work harder for it!

Speaking of working harder, after the fit, I took on the challenging part of the day which was a fitness test. This is on my own bike, and dialed in position. Basically this was a 10 mile time trail over a hilly course that featured 3 big grades. The first two are 6 percent grade up hill and the last one being 7 percent. If you ever drove over Mount Eagle near Chattanooga that is a 4 to 6 percent grade for comparison.

During the test you can shift gears all you want and you will need to plenty, but I had to stay tucked in the aero position the whole time. That was a real challenge not getting out of the saddle on such steep climbs. While riding you get a real time monitor of your heart rate, power output in watts, speed and pedal RPM. One thing I noticed is my heart rate is hard to get anywhere near the max. Wearing a heart monitor during a run test I know my max is about 179. I never went over 155 during the bike test. However, that didn't equate to effort level. I was giving it all I had for what I could hold for 10 miles.

The resulting numbers at the end should an average heart rate of 144 (max 155), average pedal rpm speed of 92 (max 120), average 214 watts oe power (max 320) and an average speed of 17.7 (max 31.7). The average speed sounds really slow, but considering the grades you had to ride and staying tucked the whole time, it is reasonable.

The good news is both my right and left legs produce the same amount of power. One is not stronger than the other. You also get a spin scan that shows how evenly (or not) that you apply power while the crankset is going around. You can see that I don't spin smoothly enough and need to work on the upstroke of my spin. Fairly common I'm sure, but you can see the real time difference as you focus on it. Amazing how much more effort at this point it is to spin evenly. Something to work on with 1 leg drills for sure.

The bad news is my lower back and hamstrings need a lot of stretching work to loosen up. Ryan gave me some specific exercises to try and make those work much more freely. He also printed out what specific heart rate zones to work on to improve my fitness. Something I really want to work on is intervals at sub threshold pace. Now I know exactly what that is on the bike.

All in all, it was a good experience, and well overdue. I'm motivated to really work on my spin and power output to test again as the triathlon season starts so that I can improve those numbers.

To infinity and beyond ...
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