Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bike fit

Today was the day. I was pretty much a slug yesterday, just did an easy walk around the block. My calves are feeling better. In fact my left leg is now feeling better than the right. Two firm massage sessions in a week sure helped. Today was a longer, brisker walk, 40 minutes around the block. In the last 10 minutes the heat hit me and I came in all sweaty.

I got both a bike fit and a lactate balance point test. Luke did a bunch of measurements. Both of us were mildly astonished to find out my legs are only a mm away from being the same length. It's more typical for most people to be more like 5 to 10 mm different. He tweaked the cleat fit on one shoe. After a short ride on the bike he moved the saddle way up, and fiddled with the positioning a bit. A bit more time on the bike, and he replaced the stem. The difference in position was amazing. I'd never realized I'd been riding hunchbacked. No wonder my neck hurt sometimes and I was always looking out of the top of my eyeballs. This will also open up my lungs, and change the weight distribution between my butt and hands. Now I get to ride a bit to see how it feels. I may need to get the bones in my butt measured to see if I need a different saddle.

For a while I was spinning while looking at the compu-trainer graph that shows power output at each point of the pedal stroke. This was very very cool. A perfect graph is a circle. When I first got on the bike, before any adjustments the graph was like a figure 8 like the kids draw in grade one. Two perfect balls balanced on top of each other. I had to work to just start to even it out. After the adjustments it was much easier to get a circle-oid. Not quite round, but much better. I really enjoyed tweaking the pedal stroke and watching the graph change. I wouldn't need to put a movie on if I had that in front of me.

Then the lactate balance test. In short, I tried to keep the cadence steady against slowly increasing resistance. He tracked heart rate, my respiration, something measured by a clip on my finger, and stabbed another finger for blood that went into a little gizmo. At the end of an hour (I think, things were kind of blurry by then) I was done, bathed in sweat, with tired legs that were ready to fold. For a little while right at peak effort I was actually beginning to feel a bit queasy, but that passed.

There are numbers and graphs! Fascinating. It was very interesting looking at the graph comparing watts against heart rate. I did ok for a while, then started to lose it at 200 watts, and made it up to 240 bpm before having to back off. This is a good baseline to measure future improvements against. My LBPwatts/Bodywt ratio is 1.6. At the moment this is just a number, but I shudder to think of what it might have been had we run that test two years ago. The testing confirmed my hunch that somewhere around 130 bpm is where I start breathing harder and enter effort levels where the clock is ticking on sustainability. My heart rate recovers fairly quickly, but I'm not good at getting the lactate dealt with. It has become very clear that once I get even a little past an aerobic state the effective end of my race is coming quickly.

He's given me stuff to work on over the next 6 to 8 weeks. Spend lots of time on the bike, some swim, and easy on the run for now. It's a year till next IMC, after all. We talked about coaching philosophy and training for IMC. All in all an excellent way to spend the afternoon.


  1. very cool stuff!! we'll have to discuss the bike fit after IMC. it might be something i'd like to try....

  2. That is great! I bet you will unleash on the bike, now. It's amazing what a good fit can do. Funny thing, I'm so sensitive to my bike fit that I can tell if something changes by a mm or two. You wouldn't think you'd notice but my body tells me. The change in your power will be amazing. Can't wait for you to test it out.

  3. Graphs, spreadsheets, and data....You must have been in seventh heaven!!! Hahahaha! :): )

  4. He's quite the guy, eh! Since having my fit with him, I can bike for hours and have no pain at all - before my back would go, then my legs, then over my knees - and all that would start after just one hour - not good for long bike rides!

    I knew you'd love all of the data stuff too! I think he's a good guy, and I believe last year's Canadian Long Course National Champion?? See how things go there, hey.

    Glad you had a good time in Fernie too - Island Lake is beautiful hey. Did you know they used to do a triathlon in that lake in OCTOBER - some of the Fernie nutters would do it without a wetsuit and end up, in some cases, with a bit of hypothermia!

    Did you find Freshies by the way??


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