The weekend started out like all the other ideas that my dad has cooked up for me to do: Last minute and far away. Although I had a 5-hour drive to Saratoga Springs, NY ahead of me, I was excited to attend the Serotta International Cycling Institute. The Personalized Fit class is a 3-day course that teaches students to perform personalized bike fitting services. It also begins the Serotta fit method certification process. Advanced courses are offered for current certified SICI bike fitters.
I showed up at for Day 1 at 7AM with my hair curled, full face makeup, and my electric tea kettle. Feeling a little like “Legally Blonde,” I settled in for a long day. Back to school…I even felt the same butterflies of doom when I learned there was an exam to take on the last day. Lucky for me (and the more than 1,000 Serotta students that have taken the class), SICI wasn’t anything like regular school. The fit class was a mix of lecture and hands on practice, with plenty of coffee (tea for me) breaks. The awesome instructors made the class worthwhile with their expertise, organized curriculum, and corny jokes. The SICI director (Chris Jacobson) and the two instructors (Greg Robidoux and Steven Levine) had plenty of real-world fit experience to share as Chris and Steven both own bike shops, and Greg has a cycling focused physical therapy practice.
As a petite woman, I have always seen the importance of bike fitting: it has a major impact on how often you ride, how well you ride, and how long you ride. This is embodied by Chris’s 4 reasons for bike fitting:
4. Couch avoidance.
(Hey, I already knew all that!) It is also important to get fit more than once as your riding style and ability can change. Chris describes an athlete’s position as fluid: “The cyclist should not expect to maintain the same position throughout her entire cycling career”. The class was really helpful for anyone selling custom bicycles, new bikes off the rack, or simply looking to help customers make their current ride work better for them.
Day 2 started off great with me spilling chai on my book. I knew my dad would be proud. The day got better though, with a lunchtime tour of the Serotta factory and a greeting from the master, Ben Serotta. I was surprised he remembered me, but then again how many blonde, 5’ tall girls are there in the bike industry? Well maybe the name Bilenky also helps.
Just when things were looking up, I was elected to be the “mechanic” of our group for our next hands on fit practice. It was in the Serotta farmhouse that I switched out my first handlebar and brake hoods. Steven so kindly snapped away with the camera to document the momentous occasion. I must toot my horn a little and say that I was dead center with the bar.
The question of fitting one’s self came up, which Chris had some words of wisdom for: “You can fit yourself about as well as you can cut your own hair. We all have our own ideas about ourselves. It is always good to get an outside perspective. We are all superheroes and failures in our own minds so we can miss the truth.” True story.
After 3 days of living, breathing (and dreaming!) bike fitting, we took our exams. I passed!! Woohoo! Now on to my 10 fits to finish my certification. My dad has bestowed a totally pre-historic, non-user-friendly, fitting contraption upon me. It’s about 5 times slower then the SICI fit bikes, so if you would like to spend a long afternoon getting fit, look me up and help me get my next diploma! We’ll do tea and a fit.
If you are thinking about offering a bike fitting service in your shop, or if you just want to expand your knowledge on the topic, you should also think about making your way to Saratoga Springs. (And in case anyone was wondering, yes, the town is super cute and has great boutiques!) The courses are designed for anyone with the willingness to learn the art and science of bike fitting. “Since 1998 we’ve taught a combination of bike shop owners and shop staff; medical professionals including chiropractors, licensed physical therapists, and physicians; cycling coaches and bicycle distributors, as well as cycling enthusiasts considering a career change.” – Chris Jacobson
Feel free to drop in on Chris at the Sports Garage in Boulder; Steven at Cycling Spoken Here in Cary, NC; and Greg at The Cycling PT in Malden, MA. On second thought, an appointment for the physical therapy may be best. Or just don’t tell him it was me that suggested dropping in unannounced.
What do you say we talk about bike fitting for women in my next column?
*If you have any questions about women’s-specific bike fit, or cycling in general, please email Bina at: firstname.lastname@example.org