It’s almost four months into Molly Fitz-Patrick’s challenge, and she’s starting to get a bit worried, yes even more worried than before… But at least she’s now set-up correctly on her brand new bike.
Things have definitely happened but at the same time nothing has happened. I’ve only ridden a handful of times and still feel as unfit and apprehensive as I did before.
I received my bike in December, shortly before the holidays. I ended up with a Trek Superfly 6 full sus size small bike. The excitement started buzzing as soon as I saw my monochrome stunner of a bike rolling towards me. I felt like I’d been waiting a long time to get it into my clutches. All I wanted was to hop on straight away and take it for a spin. Unfortunately, that was not possible; when you buy one of these kinds of bikes pedals are not included. I naturally assumed they would be – another thing I’ve learned. Pedals are, obviously, very important, and yet another cost to add to your growing bill. I had to take the bike down to one of the LBS to get some pedals fitted and have a tubeless conversion done. Yeah, I didn’t know what it was either. Instead of having tyres with tubes in them that can puncture and deflate fairly easily, the tubes are removed and rubbery sealant is added to your tyres, which will fill in any potential puncture you might sustain while riding. I’ve learned that this too is essential, so worth the money you spend. What I didn’t know, though, is that if you don’t ride immediately, the sealant will collect at the bottom of the tyres and subsequently deflate. Only after that happened to me did I learn that you’re meant spin your wheels if you’re not going to hit the trails straight away. Finally, after all of this, I could hop on bike. Well, I tried to. I really struggled to hop onto the seat; the saddle was just too high. I felt that if I could eventually mount the bike I’d have difficulty getting down, I was certain I would fall – I still haven’t come round to the idea of no fear.
It was suggested that I go for a bike fit, a Body Geometry Fit to be more precise. I wheeled my bike down to Freewheel Cycology for a full assessment and fit. Just the word ‘assessment’ makes me nervous; I pictured myself all hooked up to a treadmill, having my fitness, or lack thereof, scrutinized. As I stepped into the cool, air-conditioned studio I realised that my nervousness was completely unfounded. It turned out to be relaxed, informative and a great experience.
First, there’s the rider interview where questions about things like your riding experience, injury history and aspirations are asked. This is followed by a comprehensive physical and flexibility assessment, everything from your foot structure, to the positioning of your sit bones to the movement and flexibility limitations of your hamstrings and pelvic rotations. I was exposed to all these cool tools and gadgets that looked deceivingly simple but showed that I have a very high foot arch – only a centimetre or two of foot is actually touching the ground. Christoff, the technician who was taking the assessment, asked me to stand on one foot while keeping the leg straight and lift the knee of my other leg up in line with hip. I have always thought my balance was rather good but, once I started wobbling, I thought back to all those times I lost my balance out of nowhere. He made me realise that I’m actually quite unstable. It’s almost if I had always known but I just needed someone to point it out.
After he had finished with all the measurements it was time to hop onto my bike and see how my results would affect the set-up of the bike. I was right, my saddle was definitely too high, and the saddle itself too narrow. My old saddle was replaced by a wider, women’s specific saddle – instantly I felt far more comfortable. Almost every element of my bike was tweaked or changed. Soon I began to learn what felt right and/or more comfortable, and what felt wrong. My knee angle was off and unbalanced, but after a bit of fiddling around with the saddle, it was even. Even a rookie like me could recognise that the knee angle being just a few degrees off could cause soreness and even injury. After the whole process, which took about an hour and a half, it felt like I had a different bike – it no longer felt hard and strange, it felt like it fitted.
The whole experience left me feeling pleased and positive. I highly recommend it whether you’re an old hand or a novice like me, it’s well worth the R1 450. Hopefully in the next column I’ll have many pleasant trail experiences to share with you. Wish me luck!
Body Geometry Fit