January and February is generally a time of for all the annual irritations of a mature life – car inspection, physical (body inspection), eye glass prescriptions, etc. ad nauseum. I generally put off all of these things (nothing like putting off a car inspection for 6 months and explaining that one to a police officer). However there is one thing I have become religious in yearly (if not more often) seeking out, bike fit.
Fit, one of those words in the cycling world that people can bicker over like the merits of Campy against Shimano against SRAM. The end goal is the same – comfort and power – but the paths travelled to get there might be compared to the struggles of creationism and evolution. Holy word, science, black magic, common sense – go to four different fitters and you could find yourself in four different positions. I myself have been fit to bicycles with nearly every method
imaginable. The “inch-between-your-crotch-and-top tube” method, the slight bend in your knee at the bottom of the pedal stroke, that you should be able to block out your front hub with the front of your stem, knee over pedal spindle, Euro stretched and slammed, American upright a la Pruitt, laser levels, video recording, motion
capture, a fitter can rarely surprise me with a fitting technique or concept.
Of course, I still managed to donate a year and a half of my
life and part of knee due to injury thanks to (you guessed it) poor fit and
biomechanics. Now I’m about as neurotic about fit as Merckx or the Princess and the Pea. I have fortunately recognized that I know enough about biomechanics and fit to cause irreparable harm to myself. Thus I now seek out fitters like wine aficionados seek out elusive bottles. And upon finding them interrogate them until they’re either irate or I’m satisfied.
These days a fitting session for me is like therapy. I’ve found a fitter whose blend of science and common sense fit comfortably with my own ideas that I’ve concocted over the years. Getting measured and stretched puts my mind at ease in a way few things do. Riding a trainer while wired up for motion capture is bliss. I can and have happily spent hours with my fitter tweaking measurements by millimeters, as it all means one thing: I only have to worry about driving my bike as hard as I can, no worries, no excuses.