I realized that after several months of riding it was probably time to get refit, and so I asked around and got an overwhelming number of recommendations for a physical therapist named Mike Berretta at Revolutions Cycling. I called to make an appointment back in early May, but was a little disappointed to find he was booked until the end of the month. I made an appointment anyway, and in the meantime just tried to deal with my discomfort on the bike.
This past Tuesday was the day, so I headed up to El Dorado Hills, hoping for some positive adjustments and some answers for what I was dealing with. My first impression of Mike was not necessarily what I expected. He was super friendly and personable right off the bat, and as our session progressed it was clear that he knows what he's talking about. He started off by telling me that on a bike, there are 5 points of contact: saddle, hands, and feet (7 on a tri bike with aero bars). If there is discomfort or pain in any one of those areas, something about the fit is off. So clearly, my fit needed some work : / We set my bike up on the trainer, he asked me my background and about the issues I was having, and then I hopped on. He watched me spin for a bit, made some notes, and set up some lasers on my legs to check position and tracking. After a few minutes I stopped and he took some measurements of my knee angle and hip angle (I obviously don't know the technical terms).
His initial observations:
- My hip angle was way too closed off, so I wasn't getting the full power out of my pedal stroke, and I was overworking the quads and hip flexors.
- My left arm was in a slightly different position than my right, possibly causing my shoulder issue.
- I was sitting on my saddle wrong. Adamo seats are unique in that they don't have a nose and have a cutout for soft tissue. They are designed to be sat on with the sit bones, which requires a more forward position on the saddle, leaving the back portion of it exposed. My bum hung off the back.
- My back was more rounded than necessary, meaning I could be stretched out more. After a flexibility test Mike determined that I had great hamstring flexibility so we could go more aggressive with my fit.
- My right knee didn't track perfectly. As I came to the top of the pedal stroke it came in a bit and made a little S-shape. Mike looked at my cleats and determined that the right one wasn't in quite the right position.
He hooked up a device that allows you to easily adjust the stem length, and we played around for a bit to narrow it down to a few lengths that felt comfortable but also made it easy and natural to stick my bum out. My original stem was 70mm, and we ended up going back and forth between 100 and 110mm. Both felt great, and honestly it was hard to tell much of a difference! We also tried my handlebars at both a -6 position (original) and a +6 position and the latter ended up feeling much better (I'll be honest here - I don't actually know what this means! I just remember the numbers - if you know, please chime in!). He also removed one of the spacers from the stem to lower it a tiny bit. We kept switching things back and forth, all the while he continued to watch and take measurements. We successfully opened my hips up to a 110 degree angle (originally about 100 degrees) and my got my knee angle to 30 degrees.
old and new stem
The whole experience was great. Mike spent a good 1.5 hours with me, and was great about explaining everything he was doing and answered all my silly questions. It's clear he enjoys what he does and is very knowledgeable about it. I will admit that it was not cheap - in full disclosure, it cost $250, not including parts you may need (like my new stem) - but it was well worth it. When you spend thousands (yes, that s means multiple) of dollars on a bike, another couple hundred is nothing if it means you get the most out of said bike. A poor fit on a fancy bike is just sad : (
So obviously, I was eager to take my bike out post-fit, and fortunately I had a long one on my schedule for the next day! I'll get into it more in my weekly recap, but let's just say it was mostly good. Stay tuned!