Saturday, 16 August 2014

My first Bile Fit and WoW what and experience!

Really enjoyed my Bike Fitting sessions with Craig Stevenson... Awesome job Craig Thanks
      After having my amputation in the September of 2007 and then going on to learn to ride early in 2008 I always just figured like most amateur riders that a bike was a bike. Sure you have all the different varieties, you know ranging from road to mountain and whatever comes in between and that they more or less come in sizes from extra small up to extra large. I never really thought about having a bike fit, it was more or less a case of "Oh I'm around 6 feet tall, a Large should do". Almost all of my bikes have been bought on-line and even the ones that haven't I have never been fitted for. So really each of my bikes I have found to some extent I have just fitted to them, whether this meant changing stems, saddles, messing around with anything to make the bike more comfortable and then just basically just living with them.

So the story goes like this, after deciding I was going to try my hand at a Duathlon which Arctic ONE  had arranged down at Hawridge and doing this on my Fat Bike. I began to think if I'm going to be taking part in the Arctic ONE's triathlon down at Dorney Lake I need to get a quicker bike. I began shopping around trying to find deals on-line and even cheekily asked if a few places where up for sponsoring me. My unique angle was "yeah I know I'm not an elite athlete, however I am a pretty determined old bloke with a pretty sweet sporting prosthesis and I think I could be good for your business". I have to say I was quite surprised as I got a few takers who were interested in what I could offer in return for knocking a few quid of a new bike.

In the end after quite a long time shopping around looking at various bikes I came across a cool business named Bike Swanky. As I explained what I was after and my unique situation and what I was intending doing, the fund raising for my running prosthesis and taking part in my first triathlon and of course working hand in hand with Arctic ONE the owner of Bike Swanky, Paul sounded very enthusiastic and said "you are just the type of guy we are looking to support". Well this was great news. I went on to have a really good few conversations with both Paul and then Andy of Bike Swanky over the next few days and long story short hit upon a deal where I would purchase a De Rosa Idol road bike from them, as well as also become sponsored on a new bike that they were stocking called a  PYGA OneTen which is a  29'er. The PYGA being deigned by Pat Morewood of Morewood Bikes  and coming from South Africa.  I haven't really blogged much about Bike Swanky until now as I wanted to get everything in place, however feel now is as good a time as any, as they have been so very supportive of me.

You see the De Rosa Idol I was originally after in  Blue and White hadn't been released. I then chose a different coloured model a Black and White one and discovered that there would be a 60 day back order, this meant the bike I wanted wouldn't be here in time for my triathlon. Paul over at Bike Swanky was then kind enough to offer me their demo model De Rosa so that I could take part in my triathlon. I was also able to arrange a bike fit through Bike Swanky and their site. The fitting being relatively near to me in Harrogate.

This leads me on to Craig Stevenson who is a BSc (Hons), MSc CSO, Sports Physiologist at Performance Sports Consultants Ltd. I met Craig last Friday and his very friendly dog Rupert, whilst taking the demo De Rosa, my Bartlett Tendon and the rest of my cycling gear down to be fitted for the new bike I would be placing an order for...

Now as I have said this was my first experience of a bike fit so I wasn't sure what to expect. From the off Craig was brilliant, so welcoming and friendly. Explaining everything we were going to be doing in a step by step way and talking me through it. Craig explained this was his first time fitting an above knee amputee and he was just as excited as I was. His enthusiasm was evident as he carried out his various measurements and tests in order to see what was going to work out best for me and my chosen style of riding. The whole experience felt very professional and it was if I was now being fitted for a tailor made bike, rather than some off the shelf thing that comes stamped size Large. As the first session progressed, Craig identified I had a few issues and he pondered just what was going on. It didn't take him long to come up with the answers and I have to say it's something after all these years of riding I had never even thought of. You see I had a big kind of kick in my pedal stroke on my prosthetic side whilst sitting on my saddle. Craig went on to explain that the problem was that my prosthetic ankle was fixed at a set angle, whilst my good foot was riding toe down. Imagine if you can standing on a flat surface and lifting one foot up and going on to your toes and leaving the other flat on the floor and then checking the distance between your raised foot and the heel, yeah it's probably anywhere from 40 to 75mm. Obviously I'm doing it in layman's terms as I'm no Physiologist lol, but you get the idea, essentially as I took a pedal stroke there was a big discrepancy in leg length between my good and prosthetic side. As we couldn't really do anything more that day,we agreed to make another appointment and I would return with a longer pylon and also fit the dropper seat post I would borrow off my NS Soda, just to try and see  if we could get a better and more efficient riding position.

Today after having a horrendous ride down to meet Craig back in Harrogate and ending up being half an hour late due to traffic, about which Craig was fine, we started sorting my positioning on my bike with the new pylon fitted and also the dropper seat post. We had popped a pylon in place which was 42 mm longer and this allowed us to raise the seat post up to 90mm. The kick was removed and I could ride in a really efficient circular motion, without the rocking of my hips. Craig says my riding will improve over the next few weeks and I'm really excited about this. Other things that were identified were I need a slightly larger frame with a slightly shorter stem, 100mm. Oh and because I have quite big shoulders (all that time spent on crutches I guess) I could do with 44 inch wide bars.

So in ending, if I had known about bike fits and what went on would I have been willing to spend the extra money in getting one earlier? You bet your life I would. I now have all the measurements I need so I know exactly what size bike I need, the length of stem, the seat post height, what size crank length, handlebar width you name it. I have also learnt that quite a few of my problems were as a result of how I was riding my bike and that lengthening my pylon has really helped in comfort and efficiency. Money very well spent I say...I'm well pleased and what a great service.

A huge thanks to Craig at Performance Sports Consultants Ltd and indeed Bike Swanky who you should here me blogging about increasingly more as time goes on.

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