If The Shoe Fits: Taking Fit-School Home

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Since attending the Serotta International Cycling Institute’s personalized fit class in December, I have completed 7 of the 10 required fits to complete the certification.

The setting is a kitchen in central Pennsylvania. (Later we move to a grungy framebuilding shop). The time is winter. Blah. The props include an ancient, extremely cumbersome sizing bike, goniometer, brannock device, plumb bob, and your basic mechanic tools. Yes, I think goniometer sounds dirty too, but it is just a protractor-like device that measures the angles of anatomical movement.

All of my fits so far have been on friends and family, and all have been interesting. I started with my younger sister in early January. Maria was the ideal first candidate as she didn’t care much about the fit and was just doing it out of obligation for our sisterly bond. Needlesss to say, she didn’t have any questions for me (which I was happy about since I didn’t have many answers yet…). I had her fit finished with her riding more comfortably, and all in time to watch “Grey’s Anatomy”.

Next up was my brother, Aaron, who wanted a more “race-y” position. My brother was so pumped for his anticipated new speed that it made the fit super fun. Each adjustment I made had him down in the drops making “fast” noises. Aaron loves his more aero set up and plans on being fit again for a tri bike in the near future. My husband was my 3rd fit and we knew before beginning that his shoes were too small, (they were an online impulse buy) and his saddle height was probably too high based on the complaints he was having. I adjusted his saddle height as well as the fore/aft of his seat and we finished with picking out some new shoes. The Serotta mentality of the fit starting at the foot is so true. The wrong shoes and/or cleat placement can affect your foot support, power, and knee over pedal spindle positioning. Justin finally got to try out his new position this week with the unseasonably warm weather we are having. So far so good!

Fitting Aaron and Justin made me realize that I need to bulk up my arms. It’s a little difficult to lift a man’s leg with one of my spaghetti noodle arms during the flexibility portion while maneuvering the goniometer open and closed. At one point, I used my mouth. Fail. Definitely need to come up with a better technique because even family doesn’t appreciate that.

I did one more fit in my glorious kitchen studio (this one involved calling in back-up from my husband since I couldn’t find my friend’s greater trochanter…) before schlepping my dinosaur fit bike to Philly to perform some fitting services for the lovely employees at Bilenky Cycle Works. The resident female painters had been asking to be fit, so I started with them. Naomi is a night owl so I conducted her fit late one evening. We wrapped up around midnight. I was fading from the late night fitting but we still managed to have lots of laughs and find a position to minimize her chronic knee pain.

Tom, the newest addition to the Bilenky team was 6th on my list. This was a hectic, but educational fit. Hectic because we had limited time and Tom was technically on the clock during the fitting. At one point, a customer came by to drop off a bike to be retrofitted. Tom had to move from his reclining position on the yoga mat where we were conducting his flexibility assessment to chat with the customer and take down the work order. The customer was not fazed as there are always crazy happenings at Bilenky. The fit was educational due to Tom being certified in a different fit method so we both learned new things throughout the process. And of course, there is always a lot for me to learn in the mechanical department.

I am currently looking for a new system for marking the anatomical points we reference in fitting. I’m thinking sewing chalk instead of my tape and sticker variations. The tape was a little too strong and I think I gave Tom a free waxing on his legs when I removed it. The stickers kept falling off and I was finding them all over my body for days after.

Our paint maven, Isis, was last, (but not least!) and the most enthusiastic of my “fitees”. We used this fit to determine the proper set up and position of her newly built (by her!) road frame. The measurements and adjustments we made helped establish what kind of parts to buy, such as the length of stem and width of handlebar she will need. Although we are friends and she is part of the Bilenky “family” we didn’t realize how similar we were. During the interview portion of the fit we discovered that we both like to ride at a leisurely 12mph, and make frequent stops for snacks and petting furry animals, AND we tend to load up the men in our lives with panniers etc. so as to slow them down to our pace. That last part we aren’t proud of, and that was the other reason for Isis’ fit. She wants to ride faster so she doesn’t have to resort to crafty methods.

Who will be the lucky recipients of my last 3 fits?

*As ever, email bina@embrocationmagazine.com with questions fit-related or otherwise.



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