The title makes neither common nor grammatical sense but that’s ok, it’s Tuesday. I don’t love Tuesdays.
Lobsterman 2012 was a really fun race! Before I really considered myself a “triathlete” (2010), I borrowed a bike, biked to and swam in Walden Pond a few times over the summer, and completed this race as my first every Olympic distance triathlon.
There are a few reasons it’s a “repeat” for me– 1. It was my first and you know, there’s nothling like your… first. 2. It has a lobster bake– and people who like to sit on the ground in spandex and eat Lobster after kicking some serious butt in a race are my kind of people. And 3. It looks like this–
This is the only race, therefore, that I feel I can compare apples to apples from one year to the next. So, without further ado- I present– 3 years of race results!
2010: 2:35 Overall Time
193rd Place Overall
1st of 9 in my Age Group
Bike: 1:23 (11.4mph)
Run: 46:50 (7:30)
2011: 2:27 Overall Time
48th Place Overall
1st in Age Group
Bike: 1:16 (19.5mph)
Run: 43:33 (7:02min/mi)
2012: 2:23 Overall Time
57th Overall (Fast field!)
5th Overall Female (yet again!)
1st in Age Group
Swim: 21:18 (1:18/100m– if this isn’t an advertisement for my swim club, I don’t know what is…)
Bike: 1:13 (20.5 mph)
Run: 45:30 (7:19 min/mi)
The final delta is 12 minutes faster than 3 years ago, 4 minutes faster than last year… AND… I’ve been injured! Not altogether terrible (Let’s get that RUN in shape now, eh?!?!)
This is my take-home message: while I’ve been injured a lot of the season, running very little, I’ve managed to make up for that. I’ve ALWAYS said, don’t waste time on your strength in Triathlon; rather, focus on your weakness. this is in stark contrast to what I’ve done this season. Without being able to run and with my hip bothering me a bit on the bike, too– my most consistent training has been in the pool. And wow… it works. Granted, I don’t putz in the pool. My workouts aren’t long either though. I stick to a hard pace, very little rest and really pushing it. I don’t swim a lot- during the broken ankle incident I was up to 4 times a week? Now I’m dialed back to just 2. However, those workouts are really solid. This morning’s was a 1000 meter warm up and drill, followed by this:
2 x (400HARD, moderate 8 x 50)
2 x (200 HARD, moderate 4 x 50)
2 x (100 HARD, moderate 2 x 50)
The whole set was 3800 meters and the majority of the pace was 1:25/100meters (not yards). I was DEAD by the last 100. And if you’re not? You’d better be going for longer than I was I think the key is to understand how to maximize your time and sustain the RIGHT effort for that time. If I were training for Iron distances, I would need LONGER swims. If I needed more distance I would slow down my pace. I wouldn’t have swum so much this year but not only did I have to… stupid injury… but I also LOVE my team! I swim with a talented group of mixed-age masters swimmers. They absolutely ROCK the pool at 5:30am most mornings. I’m there as much as I can be and no matter what I’m doing next season, I’m signing on for another year of the team because I can’t fudge these numbers– clearly swimming is keeping me in awesome (or well, good enough) shape.
I’ve fared MUCH better this season than I would have anticipated in May. In May, I thought I’d re-break my ankle during a transition in a race, not kidding. I was afraid I’d actually try to unclip from my pedal and crack the ankle all over again because the whole joint felt so weak and fragile. But nope! With a little faith and a LOT of slow work, I’ve manged to recover about as well as anyone might have imagined I think. I’m pretty psyched. I’d like to be a lot faster in NZ for World Championships, but I have a good training plan,I’m working toward a well executed race, and I have a fan coming to watch — so I’m pretty sure, I’ll have a great time. Proud of 2012 thus far!
My pseudo National Championships recap briefly mentioned a struggle in the bike portion. It’s not that struggling in a race is uncommon; in fact? it’s generally the case, physically, anyway. I race because I love to race, I love to feel fast and I really, really like to compete. Therefore, I recognize that no matter what I do, racing will also, on some level, hurt. That’s how it works! The indicator of a good racer is not the lack of physical struggle he or she confronts but rather, how well they can sustain the hurt. Yes yes, it sounds masochistic. Well, it is! Training for triathlon is not intended to make it so that races don’t hurt; it’s to enable you to sustain physical depletion better than the next guy (or girl). Maybe you’d disagree- I’m open to other opinions but I’m pretty sure athletes generally agree on this point.
But that isn’t the point of this post. Clearly, races tire you out, make your quads scream, make your hamstrings lose their spring left– let alone your lungs’ lacking air and your chest’s tightness in the last 1 mile “sprint” at the end of an olympic-distance triathlon. My struggle at Nationals on the bike was two-fold– my injured hip/glute felt broken– I had shooting pains from my lower back through to my shin. Yep, it wrapped around my right side. No one likes racing injured… I especially dislike it. The real, technical, holding-me-back struggle however was mental. The combination of the injury and a few key passes by girls I didn’t think would pass me… well, that began to deplete the one part of me that I’ve always thought as a forte– my mental game.
The mental game can make or break races for me. When I raced in both swimming and kayaking, the mental game was crucial. I was known for racing in practice (teammates LOVED that… no wait… they didn’t). But the reason I did was because I wanted to know I could pull ahead, I wanted to know I had a kick left, all I needed was the knowledge. I had to practice to build that confidence but eventually I could train myself to start as the slowest in the group knowing that my kick would, in the end, beat everyone else’s. That was predominantly mental– it wasn’t really about fitness. It was about confidence and… well.. surprising the hell out of my teammates with 150 meters left in a 500 at Nationals for kayaking. If you’re wondering what connects my various athletic endeavors– from gymnastics, to diving, to swimming to kayaking and eventually triathlon– it’s the mental edge. I’ve worked my whole life to build the confidence I need to kick hard at the end. To not get beat and to, as my 1BandID says, “Dig Deeper, Finish Faster.”
But when I fail at the mental game, I fail. Hard. And, I need help. I came up to the 10 mile mark at Nationals feeling ok, with just 15 miles to go. The pain was tolerable, the hills weren’t atrocious, the wind was high (which is usually in my favor) so my mental state was steady. Then I got passed. Not by just anyone, but 2 girls, in my age group, neither of whom had worn wetsuits in the swim. That, was bad news bears. In that moment, I honestly felt that I wasn’t worthy of being at Nationals. My mind wandered… my heart sank. I thought to myself, “what would happen if I just DNF’d (did not finish)?” That was an unsuccessful line of thinking; if you’re ever considering it, don’t. I slowed down, I thought about how hard this race was, how much I had tried to train but couldn’t do enough because of my stupid injury. I yelled at myself for being injured. I thought about how no one would really care if I just coasted through the end and made this just basically a training ride.
But somewhere, deep, down … was a much stronger voice. It was most definitely my friends, my family, my teammates… it’s everyone I surround myself with daily. They were all saying, “Who is this and what have you done with Julia?” They know I could do better– they all know, I’m not a quitter. Left to my own devices I was feeling incredibly depressed, sunk in my injury. But no single person in my life would let me get away with “just coasting.” So I leaned on their strength. I thought about all my incredible friends who work their tails off– and not to win some arbitrary race, but because working hard feels incredible. Because there’s reward in the simple knowledge that you made your own strides in a day. My teammates kick butt in their workouts– partly to win some awesome races, of course– but partly because they just love working really hard. There is nothing akin to the feeling of utter depletion. Pushing yourself to a limit you didn’t know you had is the reward in and of itself. Why would I squander this opportunity to work it, hard, all the way to the end? I just couldn’t. They wouldn’t let me. Right then, I told myself, “Buck up champ. Racing isn’t about winning. Racing is about making it hurt… sustaining the hurt… and telling the tale after.”
At that moment, with the strength of all my friends, family and teammates, I turned it around. I picked up my cadence, I refocused, and I took off after those two ladies in my age group. And, with a mile to go in the bike, I passed them. (In full disclosure, they caught me again on the run… but not for another 3 miles!) And, everything about the race got INSTANTLY better when I decided to take it on, not give up, follow through to the end. When I took my whiny self OUT of the equation and thought about how my awesome friends and family would all work their hardest in a similar situation, that they’d never give up and they’d never let me give up, I felt like I had the strength of 10 people. It was incredible.
I submit that the next time you think you need to give up, you need to “just cruise” instead of working to your best ability in a race, a workout, a project– take yourself out of the equation. Ask yourself what your friends would say to you– what your family might say (as long as it’s positive, people…) and then hit the RESET button. Or at least, try. Sometimes you don’t have it one day– that’s ok too. But when you’re wondering whether you’ve got something more… ask your (imaginary? in-your-head) friends what they want you to do… and believe me, they want you to keep working to YOUR best. And if you ever need it, you can imagine that that is what I would tell you. I’d say– “you got this… dig deeper, finish faster.”
I owe my friends and family and teammates SO much for their consistent encouragement, their own hard work and determination because it’s completely, awesomely contagious. Keep it up guys, I need it
So, long time, no blog. That’s pretty lame. The truth is that it’s really hard to write, talk, communicate in any way about triathlon when you’re injured. Well, when I’m injured anyway. It’s not as though I’ve thought that I’m invincible… no wait, yes I did. As I posted earlier this spring, I was stuck in the pool a lot over the course of my broken ankle recovery. The recovery was slow, but by May at least the cast was off. I worked up to being able to jog again and in fact, I posted a 5k “PR” at the end of May. Only to find out later– I think the course was short. Nonetheless, it was a decent time followed with… serious hip pain. That hip pain is reminiscent of pain I was experiencing in November/December, which caused me to stop running last winter. So here I was again, unable to run, in the middle of the tri season. I’d take breaks of a week or 2 off of running, riding and swimming as much as I could. I’d then return to the track or tempo runs, only to feel this radiating, killer pain in my low back, right side of hip and down into the hamstring. I write this now, not because I’m all better, but because I think, I hope… I am improving. All I know is that I can’t bring it back full force. If I do, I’ll risk a PR at Worlds, which is what I want more than anything else. I couldn’t care less about placing… I’d just like to hit that pretty stride I had last year at Nationals. So, that’s where I’ve been.
Just for fun– here are my quick Summer highlights of 2012:
1. May 17: Summer Blues Run– 5k PR (ish?) 19:27
2. June 1: Rev3 Quassy! I never wrote about this race despite it being a ton of fun, actually. Firstly, #Rev3 events are fantastic. The race was incredibly well put together, my name was on my bike holder, and the support throughout the race was spot on! Obviously, I’m a teammate for Rev3 but I’d have this opinion either way– it’s just a festive event when it’s a Rev race. Given the opportunity I’d be going to Cedar Point, Dells, Wisconsin, South Carolina and Florida to do their races. The timing just doesn’t work, sadly! In any event, it wasn’t a terrific finish by time, but I placed in my age group and overall, I was in the top 10 women to finish. That felt awesome. Despite pretty much hurricane conditions on the bike, I managed to NOT fall. That’s probably a win in and of itself, right?! Yeah, I know. I fall a lot. (At least I’m smiling as I churn up a puddle:)
3. June 22: Racemenu 5k Overall Winner
4. July 6-8: Black Fly Tri. This event was AMAZING. The festival weekend is comprised of a Bike TT on Friday night, Olympic Tri Saturday and Sprint Tri Sunday. You can pick and choose- or do the “Lord of the Flies” Competition, which is all 3 You know which one I chose… obviously. After not quite enough training for it, and a BEAST of a hill in every event (it takes place ON a ski mountain after all), I still had a fantastic time. I ended up in 2nd for the Oly, Sprint and the Overall in my Age Group. I met a TON of people and got to hang with some old friends too. LOVED it!
5. INJURED There was just no getting around this. From mid July through mid August I was just plain old injured. There was no racing and there was barely any running. I worked on the bike as much as I could and I swam… but it was tough all in all. I actually made time in my life for other fun things– I spent time with my family in New York, spent time exploring Boston’s eateries and the rock gym, I went to Florida, and did my best to put the anxiety of being injured at bay. It worked, for the most part. My friends noticed it, as I’d snap, “I don’t want to talk about Nationals!” or Worlds, or even generally about triathlons. I felt like a fraud– I was this athlete previously in pretty decent shape ready to take worlds by storm and then boom– a crazy, injured season.
5. Age Group Nationals 2012. OK, so, they happened. But even the day before I caught myself saying, “this race had a limit, maybe I should have sacrificed my spot so that a real athlete could be competing.” Ew, self-loathing, useless thoughts. So, I bucked up the best I could. After a terrible night’s sleep, I woke up with the beginnings of a RIDICULOUS poison sumac attack. It was laughable, really. In any event, I raced! I put up some interesting numbers–
Here is my comparison of Nationals 2011 (fresh and tapered!) and 2012 (freshly injured!):
23:33 T1: 1:35 Bike: 1:13.06 T2: 1:25 Run: 41:39
The swim was a great take-home message. Training consistently really does help. The same is likely the case for the other two sports but… silly, injured me, wouldn’t know.
August 26: Rev3 Old Orchard Beach! Another fantastic event! I did this as an Olympic Relay, having just come off of Nationals the weekend before. My awesome guy got coerced into it as our runner- his little bro has just gotten into tri’s and is flying!!! So, I swam, Jeff cycled and James ran and we WON! I had never done a relay tri before and this was such a fun race race for it. So many spectators and fanfare! I definitely didn’t pay attention to course maps and ended up running to the swim start a mile away– but that’s clearly human error- not a race problem I’ll pay better attention next time…. #oops. This was its inaugural year and it went incredibly smoothly. Everyone should head up to Maine for it next year!
So that’s it… so far. This morning I hit my 10 x 100 @ 1:15 and it actually didn’t kill me. I’m psyched to think I could even get a little quicker by October. But no guarantees. I need some open water practice, for sure. I have a few races in the next month then it’s taper time for Worlds. I’m finally able to talk tri again so I plan to do a bit more of this in the next few weeks. Hopefully I’ll find something interesting to chat about. Requests welcome, as always.
This is just a short post to articulate my body’s current, hilarious condition. I raced on Sunday. Yesterday, in typical Jules-fashion, I got very little sleep, ran one of the hardest spin classes I could come up with and lifted in the evening. I followed that with an AMAZING dinner (belated homemade birthday dinner!) and again… almost no sleep. Ugh, hate this pattern right now. Well, it might not shock you to know that this morning’s swim practice was… hilarious. I mean, it shouldn’t be called that. I should probably be embarrassed or have some other silly emotion about it, but I don’t. Here’s what happened:
4:45am: Jules wakes up before the alarm… and contemplates bailing on the whole morning and sleeping.
4:55am: Jules laughs while stumbling out of bed, sore in most muscles head to toe.
5am: “Oh well, here goes something…” mumbled as I walk out the door to practice.
5:20am: Jump in the pool for warm-up and I’m freezing cold. No amount of ‘warming up’ is helping. It’s fine, stroke feels ok. But my upper, lower arms have nothing; my legs can barely maintain a weak 2-beat kick… and I’m just doing my best to be smooth in the water. “Screw speed, it’s just warm-up” was the mantra. Time for the set (note– this is ALL long course Meters) — a GREAT set: 2 x 200 hard, 2 x 200 recover, 3 x 150 HARD, 3 x 150 recover, 4 x 100 HARD, 4 x 100 recover, cool down. Here’s what I did:
1200 straight warm up– tried to do 4 x 100 on 1:30, which just meant I was swimming straight.
1 x 800 straight. Yep, those 200s? Just cruised in and out of the walls “on” the interval- no rest really.
1 x 800 straight. Again, the 150s? Never made the interval with rest. Just kept swimming. Ended up ‘catching up with my lane’ by skipping a 100. #badathlete
1 x 800 straight. Haha, joke is on me. I seriously assumed the 1:30 long course pace would be FINE (it usually is!)– but no. Again, straight up– 8 x 100, no rest, just swimming through.
I did an entire swim practice without making a single interval. WOW. That has never happened to me. Usually I could push through, dig deep– something. This morning? 0. Honestly? I had no problem with that. It wasn’t a good practice, but I also didn’t NEED a perfect, on-target practice this morning. I needed a recovery swim. Even if my training schedule hadn’t called for recovery this morning– that’s CLEARLY what my body was on track to do. Sometimes that’s how it works. You could be all sad-faced about it and pout– but it’s one measly practice. Might as well first: laugh and second: be proud that you got in the water in the first place! Nicely done, Jules even if ridiculously done
I then saw that my track buddies had bailed due to rain so I hopped into the gym for some more long, slow, silliness on the treadmill. This wasn’t worthwhile, I just wanted to stretch out my kink-ed legs and this sort of did the trick. The best part was the PCB pipe they have at the gym– in place of a foam roller. The harder the better, please. (twss).
Not sure this is a worthwhile read to anyone, but I think it’s helpful to see when my friends (athletes and non) hit an obstacle, or have something go awry and to see how they react. I’d like to think I’ve got perspectives of being a planner and being flexible. Does being an athlete mean having a healthy dose of both? I’d argue: yes.
Do you agree? Has this happened to you? How do you react? Am I taking it too casually? (not that I’d change my mind but curious to hear honest thoughts!)
To be totally honest– this was a funny, fun, my-size Tri. An excellent production overall by FIRM racing. Although because the results page is down a few of my friends are hanging trying to figure out if they made their National qualification! In any event, I had a lot of fun today racing my first tri of the 2012 season.
Let’s get all the basic facts of the day out there:
1. I had no expectations. I couldn’t. I haven’t run for 2.5 months except in the pool and well, that wasn’t “running”– more like wiggling with a rhythm.
2. It was a pool swim? Sure, that’s great for a swimmer, yep. But, my flip turns turn to the left and we were snaking the pool to the right so, physically and mentally, it was strange. In addition, who swims under lane ropes? (well, ok, I do sometimes but that’s because I am the worst backstroker you’ve ever seen, it’s.. hilarious… to everyone else).
3. WEIRD distances. For any non-tri’ers reading this (unlikely…) but a sprint distance tri is variable– there isn’t a set distance. And this was a MINI tri. We all know short distances aren’t really my thing. I feel as though I “do well by attrition”– as if everyone else’s energy reserves just give out and mine just tend to stick around longer. Not SPEEDY energy reserves, just like an energizer bunny– or energizer turtle– steady. This tri was a 400 yard swim, 7 + mile bike, and a 2.3 mile run. Yep, how strange, I know.
4. I misplaced my helmet and found out around 12am when I got home from a Cinco de Mayo party. This whole sentence falls under “do as I say, not as I do.” #oops #badtriathlete
5. I never started my watch. #DoAsISayNotAsIDo. DUR. That was dumb.
6. This is the first race I’ve done on a triathlon bike. First ever trying to stay in aero. Only the 3rd time I’ve even been on the bike outside. That’s just worth thinking about as I consider how the race went.
The race itself went something like this:
5:30am: wake up 6am: determine I really didn’t have my helmet… receive text back from carpool buddy that he has one I can borrow. #Phew.
7am: Arrive at race, check in, say hi to teammates, drink water. (Had a banana pre-race, personally, can’t eat within 1.5 hrs of a race)
8:10: Swim! I seeded myself at a 4:40 for a 400 yd. I didn’t really consider the whole turning under lane ropes thing… I also decided to chat up the nice lady in front of me (partly because I knew she wasn’t in my age group thanks to age-labeled calves). She had seeded herself at 4:30! MUCH faster than me, which got me a little nervous. I really didn’t want to hold anyone up! But Jamie and I had talked about this whole conundrum. It takes a LOT to pass someone who starts 15s in front of you– possibly not possible within 400 yards. I realized that someone could potentially overtake me in a 400 but only if they were quite a bit faster and if that were the case, they would be intelligent enough not to seed themselves slower than me. Ergo, get over the fright, and swim your best. That, I did. Or tried to. The swim felt good. It’s weird to feel like you’re swimming through an obstacle course, but hey open water swimming can feel like that too. I made sure to have the energy reserves for the final 100— that was where I really picked it up. Until that point, I just held steady, thought about breathing every 3rd stroke and keeping an even kick. I pulled myself out of the pool and ran through the transition to my bike.
T1: Not bad! I got my cycling shoes on pretty quickly. Ran my bike out of T1… the wrong way. This was unfortunate; I just had no idea which way to go and all these spectators just stood and looked at me as I ran the wrong way… eventually a volunteer told me to turn (I only wasted a few seconds, it just always feels longer .
Bike: Felt ummmmm HARD. I booked it. I made a decision that the course was SO short I would be in the big ring the whole time. That proved to be the right decision. Obviously had the course had more climbs or variable topography I would have changed my gameplan. No need to stick to some arbitrary race plan if it isn’t right, no matter the cause (maybe your quads are tight, maybe the sun is draining your energy– whatever it is, you should always take note of how you feel and adjust your race strategy if necessary). I didn’t pass anyone but I also knew there were only 22 people in front of me because I started 23rd in the pool. I then got passed by a wee one– I think a college kid who was wicked quick on the bike. That is no surprise to me– I get passed on the bike– a lot. You deal with it. It isn’t my strength and I know it. So I was pretty psyched that he was the only one to pass me!
T2: Hilariously bad. I just could NOT get my run shoes on. My feet had been wet in the cycling shoes coming straight from the pool so they were just too sticky to get into my shoes smoothly. With enough shoving (lurvely, I know), I got my shoes on, stepped into my race belt (no clipping and unclipping this time (stupid mistake at Nationals) and grabbed my hat to run out of T2.
Run: Welllll, here was the fun part. How was this going to feel? Dr. told me to jog. Coach told me to run/walk. I thought about doing both. I didn’t blast it by any means. I took it steadily and never raced my heart out. After all? My heart rate was AMPED through the whole race. I didn’t actually feel amazing, certainly NOT recovered at any point during the race. Nor should I have– you don’t get recover in this kind of race, it’s just not the point. You go hard, the whole time because it isn’t a half iron– it isn’t a cruise to maintain– it’s go hard or go home. So, I took it 1 stride at a time, careful to note how my ankle felt and making sure to avoid any tight turns. I passed 2 people during transition and the run. Neato.
Final? Not bad. Swim (with transition): 5:02 (with transition, that’s maybe a 1:12/100 pace?).
Bike: 20:59 (with long transition). 21 mph pace (ish, this is a guess- because of transition times)
Run: 15:19 (not sure about any transition time here, I don’t think so. I think both T’s were included in bike time). 6:39/mi pace.
Overall: 41:22. 1st Age Group, 4th Overall woman. Felt: Burnt! My chest was actually burning after I finished but that was a great feeling. I definitely worked it but didn’t do anything dumb (racing wise). Plenty to work on with the prep mistakes.
Tags: exercise, healthy-living
(Classic “fitting” shot on my new-to-me Quintana Roo Seduza! Although the two main components (the bike and the jules) in this picture appear to be normal sized, it’s just an allusion; we’re just both mini. More fun (funny?) pictures follow…)
As many cyclists and triathletes will admit, a professional bike fitting can ostensibly seem to be a big, unnecessary cost. We will also admit, that’s just not the case. Professional bike fitting is a bit of a nebulous term– the costs range dramatically between bike shops (and friends who know bikes “real well”) and the actual service itself ranges as well. There isn’t one, best way to ensure a great fit for a new or even old bike. That isn’t only because each person’s shape and flexibility is different but when you add the complex geometry of the bike, the differences between cyclists is exponential (or factorial, actually). I think women might best understand this by thinking about the ways that clothing fits… or doesn’t… even if technically a size 6 should just be a size 6, right? Yeah, I know, never that simple. Guys- your clothing is ridiculously simple so the analogy stops there.
Why get fit? A proper fit bike will make your time on the road and trail (or the race course) more enjoyable and maximize efficiency. Whether it’s a new or old bike, you could probably benefit from finding optimal riding position (even if it’s just YOU who’s changed and the equipment is the same). If that weren’t enough reason, a “fitting” is the type of initial cost that has a long term benefit in injury prevention– and let me tell ya– nothing is worse than being a sidelined athlete. Often things such as: saddle sores, sore knees, tweaked hips, lower back aches, shoulder strains and neck soreness are directly related to your bike fit. I don’t want to overpromise here (note: I’m not even a good cyclist let alone an actual bike fitter!), but I have also read and heard that a good, tight fit on the bike can lead to an overall increase in output by 10% (I presume this is talking about wattage). So, to recap you might consider a bike fitting if you’re a) new to the bike, b) dislike being injured, c) want to increase cycling efficiency or d) want to be faster. If you want none of these? well, you’re probably not reading this blog.
What is involved in a bike fitting? That depends.
1. The basic fitting: although it might vary a little from shop to shop, for the most part the basic fit will analyze the following:
- Pedal-shoe interface (yep, this is actually variable and can be optimized based on your quad/hamstring flexibility)
- Seat height (fore/aft)
- Cockpit sizing (handlebars, brakes, gear components)
- Bar/stem height, length, rotation
- Handlebar placement
- Aerodynamic position
- Proper Pedaling Mechanics–how to effectively pedal, so the power will be transferred to the pedals.
Cost? Usually around $80-100. OFTEN this will be included in a bike purchase! So make sure to ask. It might be discounted if you spend some money on gear and equipment too. I’d say this is basically mandatory for anyone getting a new bike, but possibly insufficient for a seasoned cyclist looking to ameliorate aches/pains or improve pedal-to-power stroke.
2. The mid-level Option: The mid-level bike fitting is also completed by professional bike fitter. This fitting not only measures everything from a basic fit, but in addition adds in aspects of motion, flexibility, and angular momentum. Specifically, a professional fitter will look at your overall movement on the bike to see where you might have muscle imbalances (or flexibility differences), mobility, stability and strength (specifically core!) that will contribute to a great fit versus just an “ok” fit. These fittings span the gamut for price- you want to make sure this is going to be at least an hour’s session and just ask the bike shop what the fitting includes to make sure it’s really getting into the nit and grit of your cycling. The average costs I’ve seen? $150-$300. Communicate what you need and what you’re looking for and you’ll find that either a higher cost is justified (is the fitter recording the stroke and analyzing dynamically? might be worth a little more because then YOU get to see what he/she does!) or it’s a lower cost with less frills (just some extra expertise and dynamic analysis). Either way, I’d actually say this is worth it if you’re going to be cycling more than once a week– no matter the distance. If you’re getting on your bike that consistently, a bad fit will be contributing to overall pain in other parts of your life. And why invite that? No need for discomfort (well, no more than what happens in daily, grinding workout sessions of course).
3. The High-Tech Option: There are really high tech fittings; these include clipping into your bike in a way that not only measures your power around the pedal stroke (watching for inconsistencies, or where the “waste space” of your pedal stroke is) but in addition this allows a sophistacated software system to understand where your flexibility is insufficient and should be “supplemented” by your position. The software/hardware combination does this by measuring the weight the foot is carrying around the stroke. Then in addition, they include the bike mechanics measurements included in the basic and pro fittings as well. These are completed by a professional bike fitter (certification is pretty stringent) and can run over $300 per hour. Yep, I know… that’s kind of pricey. Honestly, this isn’t money I (personally!!) would spend. This is because I know I could get a great (albeit slightly less fancy) fit for less, but also because I’m not talented enough to benefit from the delta in price (meaning, I might as well use the extra $$ to race some TT events and improve my handling). If you are a good to great cyclist– this might be a fun opportunity to explore your inefficiencies and improve your cycling in a way you are less likely to by cycling through the same motions that you have for multiple seasons. Fewer places offer something like this though, so it’s usually worth a quick google search (Aw, I know, you just wanted an easy link right? try this: http://ww1.lmgtfy.com/).
I have been incredibly fortunate to be introduced to a fantastic cycling couple– Don and Elaine Vescio who run the triathlon center VMPS, which I’ve mentioned before. Don and Elaine led computraining sessions I took part in all winter; they analyzed my pedal stroke, they told me to stop pedaling a bike that was too big for me, they let me borrow a bike when mine was stolen!, and have been incredible mentors in all things triathlon. In addition, Don helped me not only pick the bike I so badly needed in order to train and compete (to replace my sad stolen TREK) AND helped fit me to the bike. In fact, we are still working on optimizing the fit and the components to suit my exact needs! It was a laborious effort on Don’s part– it’s definitely a pro-fitting (and beyond, really), which he offers anyone for a very very reasonable rate and the time and care and expertise that he has are worth much more. And because we were having fun– we took some pictures! Good fit, right?? Pretty aggressive and tight and I’m lucky to have the flexibility for it (or so we hope!). I’ve only clocked ~100 miles on her, but I’m happy so far!
Tell me– what’s your experience? Is the bike fitting worth it? Are there tell-tale signs of a successful fitting? Any requests you’d make specifically to improve a fit?