Tag Archives: fitting

Having a Fit! Well, Getting One, That Is

“I’m here to have a fit,” I explained to the guy at the door to the bike shop.

And he let me in.

Because I had an appointment to have this fit, after all. An appointment for a professional bike fitting, through Fitmi in Ann Arbor on the second floor of the Sic Transit bike shop. Fittings are private, and by appointment only, both to minimize distractions and for obvious safety reasons these days.

I’d found Fitmi by accident while trying to find a collection box for wine corks, of which I had a quantity from last year’s races to recycle. Fitmi had one, so I took them over. While there I observed Jessica, the owner, fitting someone to his triathlon bike, and I was intrigued enough to schedule the same service for my cross bike, which I use for long rides.

I hadn’t been fitted to the bike since I bought it in 2011, so a refit was overdue. Turns out Jessica used to work at Two Wheel Tango, where I bought the bike for my 600-mile “turning 50 celebration” ride to our campground and back in 2012. So we actually may have met before.

The fitting is not cheap – close to $300.00 – but as I wanted to get back doing long rides again, including “centuries” (100 mile rides) I believed it was worth it. I duly showed up with bike, helmet, and shoes. She set the bike on the stand and I mounted it.

**** Readers, you may insert your own joke here about her saying, “Yes, you fit. That will be $300, please.” ****

After observing me pedal for a bit, she asked me a few questions. “Your form looks good,” she said, “but I wonder if you feel pressure on your hands.” I agreed that on long rides my hands sometimes go numb. She believed that was because my shoulders were too far forward. And my groin sometimes does, too. She said the saddle looked fine, so the height or angle was likely the problem. Then she got out her calipers, measuring tape, and laser, and began the fitting.

During the two-plus hours I was there, she measured and adjusted a lot of stuff, making incremental improvements until we found the ideal settings. Here are the basics:

  • The saddle height was raised and the angle was adjusted. With this done I was once again properly resting on my “sit bones” and my legs extended more fully, giving me more power in the stroke.
  • The front stem was replaced with one that puts my hands higher on the handlebars, reducing the load on my hands and wrists.
  • My shoe cleats were moved slightly to reduce “knee tracking” and keep them more in alignment over the feet throughout the stroke. We could see the improvement using the laser.

Measuring my body position and leg extension.

Jessica making adjustments.

At the end she said things looked much better, and I said they felt better, too. “You now look like you’re in the bike rather than on it,” she said. The idea of the bike and me being a single unit on the ride.

Since the fitting I have ridden over one hundred miles on the bike, including a 50-miler the weekend after. The difference in ride quality was immediately noticeable. My butt got sore, due to lack of time in the saddle, but it hurt in the right places. And my hands and groin didn’t go numb even once. Pretty awesome! Makes me want to be on the bike even more.

You have probably figured out that I recommend a professional fitting to anyone who rides long distances. And if you’re in the Ann Arbor area, or within shouting distance, I’d say give Fitmi a try.

Father’s Day: Letting Things (and Rings) Go

My Father’s Day weekend, while perhaps not as memorable as last year’s, was a full one nonetheless. On a day where the emphasis seems to be so heavy on “buy stuff for Dad,” I was instead given several opportunities to reflect on letting things go, one in particular a better gift than any “thing” I could have received.

Saturday began with a 10-mile run followed by a 50-mile bike ride, as I began serious training for my big running event of the year. (Details to follow, but basically I need to get in a lot of long, slow legwork.) With a beautiful, cool morning and smooth roads, it was the kind of ride I’d been looking forward to all winter.

A stop in Plymouth, MI. Gotta keep fueled, you know!

A stop for cherry walnut bread in Plymouth, MI. Gotta keep fueled, you know!

My route took me through Lathrup Village, where I grew up. The neighborhood looked much the same; I’d time warped back to 1970 for all I could tell. Riding by my old house, I was struck again by my lack of nostalgia for it. I’d lived there for fifteen years, but now it was just another house. I’d felt the same way last month when my mother moved out of her house in Dexter Township, where my parents had moved in 1987. It too now belongs to someone else, and I’m fine with that. It isn’t the house that matters in the end, it’s what happened there, and we’ll always have the memories.

On Sunday I was part of an Aikido demonstration at the Ann Arbor Summer Festival. It was the final class taught by our club’s departing instructor, so it was a “letting go” experience for both him and his students. But there was no sadness; the class was energetic and cheerful, with a sizable audience watching, many of them joining us when invited to do so. I hope at least a few of them will start Aikido and discover how much fun and fulfilling it can be.

Aikido retreat

I rode my bike to the class, dogi tucked in my panniers and buki bag strapped across the frame. I tucked my wallet, phone, cameras, and wedding ring (no jewelry allowed in an Aikido class) into my small traveling backpack. Then back at home, getting ready to go to dinner, I opened my backpack – and the ring was not there.

After a careful search of the backpack and my bike bags failed to turn it up, I figured it had fallen out on the Power Center lawn when I’d pulled my cameras out to take photos before class. So I went back there and searched a while for it, without success. Perhaps one of the spectators had found it, or it was just too well hidden in the grass. One moment of carelessness had lost a ring I’d worn for 30 years of marriage (to date).

Aikido has taught me that when a situation occurs that I cannot control, I need to find a way to fit with it. So I had to “fit with” the possibility that I would never see my ring again. Intellectually, this is not so hard; it was just a thing, after all, a plain gold band that can be easily replaced. My 30-year marriage is what really counts, and that remains as strong as ever, unaffected by whether or not I had the symbol that represents it. But emotionally, I was struggling with a sense of melancholy over its loss, and I was annoyed that I hadn’t put the ring somewhere more secure.

Still, I went to dinner Sunday night determined not to let the missing ring bother me, and I succeeded (mostly). And I took some time to reflect, too. I wanted to create balance in the situation – create some yang, as it were, to balance the yin event. So I decided to start on some life changes I’ve been thinking about for a while. Whether or not I got my ring back, I would create a gain.

What are these changes? And have I found my ring yet? All will be revealed shortly. Watch this space.