cycling · fitness

Proper Bike Fit. . .Because You Are Worth It

Remember that old chestnut? “Because you are worth it”

Back in my day, when people still watched television and you couldn’t avoid commercials, a $13 box of hair colour was touted as the ultimate luxury. It was worth forking out the extra bucks every month to hide the grey or spice up your look or whatever it was you were supposed to be doing. Certainly, the luscious, vibrant locks on that beautiful actress were desirable. My hair never looked like that, no matter what I did.

But this post isn’t about hair colouring products or beauty standards. This post is about spending a lot of money on a proper bike fit. I’m just going to put that up front. Road biking is expensive. The bikes are expensive. The gear is expensive. The time is expensive. You need hours of “free” time to do this sport. It’s not accessible to most people as a casual hobby. Like horseback riding, you are either in the business of it and doing it for love (putting all your resources to this one passion) or you can access it because of privilege.

So, I know that this post isn’t going to apply to everyone, but I think it’s still worth talking about because a lot of women in fitness/sports issues came up as I was going through the process.

I took up road biking just over a year ago. First, I did it to reach the ridiculous goal of 660 kms in 6 days that is the Friends For Life Bike Rally (see here). On the way to that goal, I kinda decided I really liked it. It was a great sport for my body. It had the potential to be really social or quiet. There is no doubt, it’s cool.

Here is Canada's new Prime Minister on a road bike. It has to be cool.
Here is Canada’s new Prime Minister on a road bike. It has to be cool.

I did realize, however, that as good as this was for my body, I was having some pain issues while on the bike for extended periods. I assumed it was just me. Now that is interesting. I recognize that I came to fitness after around 30 years of thinking I was no good at sports and just “couldn’t” do hard things. I was struggling on the bike with rides over 40 km. Instead of thinking something was going on with my kit, I just thought it was a physical problem with me that I’d have to either work hard to get over or endure. This attitude was not helped by my first bike shop where I bought the bike. The more I asked about fit and other things, the more I realized they were not taking me seriously. They were neither excited about what I was preparing for nor did they offer much help. The fit I received at that time was an eyeball “looks good” sort of thing.

As I continued to learn and talk to more experienced people, I realized that perhaps what I needed to do was take the whole process more seriously. What I mean by that is, if I have the resources, time and energy to do this thing and I really like it, why not do it right? And why not? I’m worth it!

This fit was $150 plus HST. It took 2.5 hours. It involved technology like videos of me with those sticker things on my joints and wireless pressure pads on my seat. Dave, the owner of the Flying Monkey Bike Shop and Coffee Bar (I KNOW! Isn’t that the best thing ever?), assessed the situation and then asked me what my goals were  on the bike. Because I was taking this seriously, I think that helped him to give me the best advice he could. I told him I want first and foremost to do everything I can to ease the pain in my rear and shoulder blade. After that, I’d love to be faster. I wanted to be able to do 100 km rides and keep up with my friends. I wanted joy instead of tears at the end of the ride to Adolphustown next year (it’s 130 kms).

He bought in and we started from the bottom up so to speak. I tried 5 different saddles. Then he nearly drove himself off the deep end trying to adjust the angle with the seat post I had on my bike. I finally said, “what about a different seat post”? He said, “I’m trying to save you some money”. I said, “I’m worth it”. So I have a sexy seat post with infinite increments in which to adjust the saddle angle. He adjusted my cleats and the saddle position and then, we had to consider (cue the music, da, da, daaaaaa) the drop.

Before this year, I had no idea what drop was. It’s the angle of your saddle relative to the top of the handle bars. Mine was pretty shallow because I’m not racing and it’s comfort over style for the most part. I had read enough snark on the internet to know that my handle bar set up was a little dorky. Although looking up at that pic of the PM on his bike, I don’t think his angle it to aggressive either, so perhaps I’m still cool enough. Anyway, Dave told me flat out he wasn’t touching that part of the bike. He wanted me to go away, ride and report back. Once I’ve had all the improvements I can with the new set up, we can consider adjusting the stem of the handle bars.

I was left with the impression that he thought I was a superstar for taking my comfort and fun seriously. I was amused he didn’t believe how old I was (ya, that stuff still gives me a thrill). I did drop quite a bit of money at that store but amortized over the lifetime of my riding this bike, it’s not that bad. Besides. . .I’m worth it!!

Me with my scraggly non Loreal looking hair. But. . .selfies!
Me with my scraggly non Loreal looking hair. But. . .selfies!

11 thoughts on “Proper Bike Fit. . .Because You Are Worth It

  1. Good on you for getting the bike fit! I did this after shoulder surgery and it was the best money I ever spent– my road bike fits me like a glove and I don’t have shoulder or neck pain at all. Great and encouraging post!

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