Kitt, the new road bike, is an exciting and terrifying mystery to me, as noted in this previous blog post. To that end I’ve been devising a couple of different strategies for us to become friends. First and foremost on the list was (obviously) get out on a ride.
So last week astride my new steed I did the work commute, taking in hardcore downhills, tram lines, multiple traffic lights, cobbles, lots of taxis and buses, the odd HGV, right turns, potholes, kamikaze dogs and paths. I figured if I could manage a three mile cocktail of city centre riding whilst doubled over a waif-like breath of fresh air then things would be all right.
I managed it in one piece, albeit very slowly. It wasn’t even close to a comfy ride.
Here’s where the bike fit comes in. There’s a fantastic little bike shop close to my work called Bike Craft. The guys in there are great and whenever I’ve had any bike-related mishaps or questions they’ve been beyond helpful. They also fit you to your bike. I have realised that this is the best idea ever.
My road bike fit was comprehensive. I did about two and a bit hours of three and have credit left on the fit to redeem once I get the confidence to go clipless. Already a massive thumbs up on the customer service front.
Chris, the owner and fitter, answered all my beginner questions in plain English. He showed me different kinds of cycling shoes – road shoes with carbon fibre soles, triathlon, MTB, leisure shoes and all the assorted pedal and cleat bumf that goes along with it. He demystified the trim function on my front derailleur. He gave me a 101 on turbo trainers (you need a different kind of tyre for them due to friction – who knew?!). He explained bike frame geometry. Importantly, he didn’t make me feel like an idiot.
And that’s not even the fit itself. My feet were examined. My knees were scrutinised. My inseam was measured. My hip, hamstring and back flexion was assessed and I discovered I have the hips of an eighty year old but the back of a sprightly imp. There was this massive protractor thing that checked angles. I got asked loads of questions that gave me the excuse to talk about cycling and all my creaky body parts.
Then I was put on the bike and there was lots of faffage (that’s my technical term). The stem was reversed to bring my position a bit more upright. The brakes were tweaked so I could actually pull them. The seat post was moved several times and the saddle adjusted. The saddle is now the correct height and I can leave it the hell alone; a small but significant change, as the saddle quandary was giving me nervous indigestion because I was convinced my over-zealous screw turning was crushing the carbon seat post.
So all in all, it was well worth doing. I have come away from my fit slightly less terrified and a whole lot happier with my space-age bike. It’s a lot comfier too.
Now all that remains is for me to practice and get out on longer rides. My beady eyes have been keeping an eye on the weather in the hopes that an ideal winter road cycling day will appear soon…