The best part about being a trip leader for In Situ Travel is getting to do something that I love, day in and day out during the summer cycling season. There’s nothing better than getting to ride with guests over the giant cols of the Pyrenees, Alps and Dolomites or through the picturesque villages of Provence, the Costa Brava or the Black Forest. Getting to share something that I love so much is such a great joy in my life. Unfortunately, this fall, my usual enjoyment of being on the bike was being hampered by some knee pain during some of my rides, and as knees have a way of being a pretty essencial part of normal body function, I was determined to get to the root of the problem.
After being inspired by several videos from the Specialized/Lululemon woman’s pro team regarding bike fitting, I decided to try the Specialized Body Geometry Fit. I wanted to go with a fitting that would use woman’s specific gear, and one of the best options where I live (Dresden, Germany), is from Bikeland 262, a Specialized concept store. Upon visiting the store to make an appointment, I was thrilled to find out that a 2 hour fitting was only 50 euros, and I was pleased to find an inviting non-judgmental atmosphere. I watched employees address the needs of people rolling in their rusty city bikes one minute, and then turn around to answer questions about top of the line S-Works bikes the next.
My appointment was scheduled for a quiet block of time in the evening when store traffic would be at a minimum. I changed into my bike gear while the technician, Thomas, hooked my bike up to the trainer. The first step was for him to do a physical exam to determine a discrepancy in leg length and foot pronation. As it turns out, my left leg is slightly longer than my right, and my my feet pronate by 1.5 mm (left) and 3 mm (right). I also had a chance to jump up on the trainer with stickers on my ankle, knee and hip to take some initial measurements of my angles on the bike and talk about the pain I was having in my knee and what I’m looking to change about my bike.
When doing a fitting, you generally work from the bottom to the top, so the first step was to tackle pressure that I was feeling in the bottom of my feet as well as the relation of my shoe/pedal to my knee pain. Thomas introduced me to the Specialized woman’s shoe line, which adds a natural 1.5 mm lift on the inside of the shoe to counteract pronation. According to Thomas, Specialized claims that through their research, they have found that 95% of cyclists naturally pronate 1.5 mm, so they add this lift to their shoes automatically. To make up for my 3 mm on my right foot, Thomas added an extra lift under the insole and I suddenly had the most comfortable bike shoes ever. I was sold.
From here, we measured my sit bones and I tried out a new test saddle. Thomas also made some adjustments to my bike according to measurements he took from me during the physical exam. Finally, he used video of me while spinning to measure my angles. He was able to freeze the image and superimpose a digital protractor over the dots on my lower half to determine the angles of my seated position while spinning. Small adjustments were made and he finished off by checking the alignment of my knees/pedals with a plumb line.
All in all, the process took a full two hours. It was very formulaic, but personal attention was given to all of my questions and complaints. I was given the test saddle to ride for a week, during which I fell in love. While on a ride with my husband, I mentioned that I felt more connected to my bike, to which he replied, “physically or mentally?” I just laughed.
When I go back in to Bike 262, we’ll check my pedal float and angles again once more and adjust the new saddle to mirror the position of the test saddle I’m currently borrowing. Overall, this was such a fabulous experience. It really reminded me that our bodies are always changing and that we must respond through an ongoing process of bike fitting/tweaking for as long as we keep riding.