Yesterday, Lewis Hartley travelled over to Manchester and spent the majority of the day at the National Cycling Centre (NCC) where the Great Britain Squad is based and also the location of our nearest velodrome.
The purpose for the day was to visit the Inspire VCUK Racing Team’s professional bike fit and cycling injury specialist: Richard Salisbury who operates his business “Pedal Precision” from within the NCC.
At this time of the year, when riders are about to embark on another road / time trial season, it is important that riders check that their positions are optimised on the bikes they will ride in the upcoming season.
Optimisation not only covers ensuring that they can deliver the maximum amount of power through the pedal stroke, but also ensures that their position creates the least amount of drag (aerodynamics) – a winning formula in bike racing!
A good bike fit will also look to place the rider in a comfortable position on the bike so that they can ride in a relaxed position for long periods of time, without developing injuries to the knees or spine for example.
Richard usually starts by examining a rider’s basic physiology, to understand if a rider has an unusual features (such as very different leg lengths). Following on from this, Richard will spend a good period of time examining and optimising the rider’s shoe cleats (i.e. the plastic parts that hold the shoes to the pedals).
Once the shoes are sorted out, the rider then mounts the bike that is set-up on a Cyclops turbo trainer, in sight of a digital video recorder linked to Richard’s laptop from which position analysis can be closely examined.
As well as using the camera and laptop, Richard checks positions from various projections to make himself happy that the rider is comfortable both with saddle height and lay-back through the pedal stroke and also with reach to the handlebars.
The process may involve raising or lowering the saddle, moving the saddle backwards or forwards, installing a longer or shorter stem, raising or lowering the stem (using spacers), or recommending wider or narrower handle bars. These are the major and typical adjustments that are made during the fitting process but there is a whole raft of other changes that can be made to improve a position depending on the type of bike, type of riding, physiology or particular injury.
For Lewis, the process required quite a lot of time because he has grown quite significantly since he last visited Richard, and also because he brought with him his ADR track bike, his Ridley road bike (supplied by Hewitt Cycles), and his time trial bike.
For the ADR track bike, it was necessary to check Lewis’s position with his conventional drop handlebars and also his pursuit bars. Some minor adjustments were introduced.
For Lewis’s road bike, it was really just a cross check on the position that Paul Hewitt and established although Lewis has grown a little since collecting his bike from the shop sponsor. It turned out that both Paul Hewitt and Richard had very similar ideas when it comes to fitting racing cyclists on racing bikes!!
The position for Lewis’s time trial bike was really just a replication of the position derived for his ADR track pursuit set-up although the frame geometry still required some minor tweaks to his saddle height to optimise the power stroke.
It has to be said that working with Richard is a pleasurable experience. Lewis felt at ease from the moment he walked through the door, casually chatting about everything from favourite cafes, to cycling idols, all afternoon, whilst Richard meticulously set about ensuring that Lewis had the best possible position for all of his bikes.
Being a bike rider himself and also being qualified in the field of Sports Injury, Richard is very well placed to deliver this service and as a team, we feel very privileged to have Pedal Precision as a sponsor.