Would they see through me, be able to tell how little I know about road cycling? Would my answers show them if I had done enough training for the Etape and would they be howling with laughter when I left?
I needn’t have worried. Nothing about the fit, consultation and even sitting on a squidgy seat and leaving an imprint of my bum (known as your sitting bones [and for the record mine are narrow]) was intimidating at all, in fact it was fascinating and I would recommend this treat to any cyclist, of any level. This is a cyclist’s equivalent of a spa day I’d imagine and an absolute must for the Christmas list.
My fit consultant (fit consultant1 it said in the email) was the very patient, incredibly knowledgeable and reassuring Jimmy. As I took in all the technology around me, the gadgets and tools, bikes suspended from the ceiling and tried not to worry about the speed the guy in the adjoining area was cycling at, I gave my credentials. Everything from my age, height, weight (you must be joking) my estimated fitness level, how long I had been road-cycling for and what sport I had previously done and to what level…
Then it was time to get into the Lycra and my heart was beating like mad as I stepped back into the assessment space. First he stared at my feet and ankles looking for potential weaknesses in my ankles and the size of my feet arches. As well as fine-tuning your cycling position to maximize your performance, CycleFit have also pioneered the use of custom insoles to stabilise the foot in the shoe and shim wedges to stabilise the shoe and pedal interface. The effect...well I can only say they have made my off-the-peg cycling shoes feel like they were custom made for my feet and which have since proved in just one ride, a revelation on the bike.
Then kinda suited and definitely booted, next up was the physical and up popped the massage couch (literally). The flexibility of my joints and muscle groups were tested…I was so glad of my childhood obsession with dance - at least I was coming up high in the statistics for flexibility! ‘Unusually hyper-mobile in your hip joints and knees Rachael.’ Jimmy said, to which I replied, ‘Yes but is that going to help me get over those mountains?’ And I just love the report he has subsequently sent over which notes, ‘Has no trouble bending over touching her toes.’ (Can’t cycling for toffee but…)
Then came the moment I had been dreading, sitting on the rig, The Fitbike. Jimmy adjusted its saddle height and changed the handlebars to mimic my trusty steed. Stickers were placed on my ankle bone, shoulder and hip joint and when the light beams were in line, I pedaled with all my might as the graph on the screen in front of me displayed a pattern not unlike the route of the Etape this summer.
Jimmy took me through the first set of video data explaining what I was doing wrong and also where alterations to my bike set-up could improve my cycling posture and overall riding position. I got back on the Fitbike again and again over a 45 minute period as Jimmy adjusted in very small increments various angles, degrees of extension and my optimal weight distribution. All the time I was trying to cycle like I could go on forever and try and make it look like it was all rather effortless…in the end he put the fan on.
I have only ever felt at one with my bike up when suffering a zero speed fall, as I wriggle around like a beetle on my back trying to unclip my feet and get up before anyone sees me.
Now feeling my feet inside my shoes, cleated to my pedals in exactly the right place and sitting on a saddle of the correct shape, at the right height, which tilts my pelvis forward and straightens my back has truly made me feel at one with my bike. Before I felt like I was floating in my shoes and I was always shifting around on my saddle trying to get feedback…but now I feel rooted to my machine and the cycling experience feels entirely different.
Thank you to CycleFit for donating their time and expertise to our project.
Rachael Barnard has shared a video with you on dartfish.tv:
Rachael Barnard(2) - Rachael Barnard(4) - Rachael Barnard(5) - Rachael Barnard(1) - Rachael Barnard(5)
Visit the CycleFItUK website for further information.
To see how Laura Trott & Women's Matrix Vulpine Team got on at CycleFit see this link.
And if you really must ladies, you can ogle Fabian of Trek Factory Racing here.