Moratalla_09It was the 2008-2009 season when I trained the hardest I’ve ever trained in my life. I trained with a Murcian Regional Champion from days in the gym in Sept 2008, up until the last hill race in Sept 2009. We followed a power based plan to the letter prescribed by a leading coach from Madrid. One of the biggest races of our calendar was the 170km XIII Marcha Cicloturista Sierras de Moratalla.

This is when I made bike-fittings biggest error (LESSON 1). I swapped and upgraded my bike 2 weeks before the event. The geometry was slightly out and so were my measurements that had been moved over to the new bike.

The race started off crazy, 50km/hr for the first 5-7kms, then we hit the first big climb. I remember feeling shocked as this energy effort wasn’t planned for before the first climb. I remember sitting on Luis Leon Sanchez’s rear wheel and admiring how fluidly and easily he effortlessly spun up the mountain. I was in the first group up the first biggest climb of the race and looked around nervously to see who would form the breakaway and the elite chasing group.

About 30km into the race I started getting a cramp twinge around my right groin. This was when my training partner surged on with the chasing group and I started getting slower. My plan to slip-stream the group and finish among early finishers ended right there and then. I remember finishing at the 6hr mark, my previous Spanish team were all there at the finish line with the “where did you end up on your new bike look” on their faces. The pros finished around 5hr.05 mark, the elites around 5hr.15 mark, my training partner around 5hr.30. I was expected to be ahead of my training partner. I just hurt from not being setup on the bike properly. Both me and my training partner sought advice.

BikeFitThe answer came from the pages of a guy from the Basque Country had just set up a bike-fitting clinic and was willing to travel down and fit a group. Jon Iriberri agreed to travel down and meet our interested group of four along with our coach from Madrid. Jon went on to form his bike fitting service and our coach later went on to bring the first Retul system to Madrid.

I remember that I had re-adjusted my saddle position and height with my training partner after the race. Jon confirmed that it was now actually fine and agreed he didn’t need to change anything there. He advised me to use fixed position cleats and raise my handlebars. After 2 weeks riding in this position it still didn’t feel right. (LESSON 2), have a bike fitter that doesn’t live at the opposite end of the country.

I headed back to the UK for summer to map out and safety assess the first routes for British Cycling’s SKYRIDE programme as a group leader. I decided to look further into bike fitting and walked into in London. There on the wall was Jon Iriberri’s cycling jersey. It was explained to me that he had previously been though a SICI (Serotta International Cycling Institute) programme and the next one would be in December.

I registered my interest and did the course in December with Paraic McGlynn and Cyclefit. It was a similar process to what had been done as pictured on the photo on the right. But it was based on formulas/angles or positioning based on averages. I’d worked out that my body dimensions didn’t fit into the rules of what was being taught at that time (my body is so long if you fit me to KOPS based theory there is too much weight on my torso and and hands). None of the Bike fit back then considered my core strength or balanced functionality. You can have all the latest measuring devices in the world, but if you don’t know how well that individual enlists or compensates for holistic physiological strengths or weaknesses, you are just positioning for an ideal-fit based on a short period of time on a turbo-trainer.

I needed more time to look into physio books. I also started reading more and more about Steve Hogg’s website and his examples based more on experience. (LESSON 3) The standard bike-fit routine at that time didn’t work for me and I’m sure it left questions for others too (I’m sure it’s moved on since then depending on your fitter). I started dissecting the previous bike-fit theories out with the help of my Spanish physio and podiatrist. I contacted Steve Hogg and although approved to be trained up, in the end I couldn’t afford the combined fees of flying to the other-side of the planet.

We decided a physio pre-fit was necessary off the bike and my first appointment with local Spanish clients would be on the nearest 8%-10% hill, with me cycling behind watching for compensatory unbalanced movements/posture whilst the cyclist was struggling on a real gradient… all with a money back guarantee.