Spending the day with Cyclefit’s Phil Cavell dialling in ambassador Fiona-May Aylward. Here I recounts on bike fitting and how Phil helped Fiona with her troublesome back.
I have always been a massive advocate of a bike fit. For me as some one who has experienced the pain of not having one and then seeing the difference it makes really had me sold on the idea of it. I used to suffer badly with knee and back pains until my first fit a few years back. Since then I have regularly been getting my fit tweaked and tested, just to make sure.
With that in mind step front and centre our ambassador Fiona. She has often struggled with back pain on the bike which has massively limited her functionality and ability to push as hard as she would like. Fiona, no stranger to racing and big miles has some serious goals for 2018 and we at Jam thought it would be appropriate to support her with these as best we can.
After some initial conversations with Fiona, we decided that Cyclefit and Phil Cavell, who has worked with Andy Schleck, Elinor Barker and Fabian Cancellara to name a few riders he has helped dial in. Sharing front-line Cyclefitting duties with Julian and Jimmy, Phil's significant other string is the developing and propagating the intelligence of fitting. Phil heads up the lecturing and teaching duties at Cyclefit. Phil suffered a life-changing spine injury in 2011 and has subsequently had two rounds of fusion surgery. As a consequence Phil is never happier than when he is helping a client who is suffering from back pain on the bike. We thought the perfect ‘fit’ for Fiona.
So we got to it. First of all Phil looked at Fiona’s existing position. For me as a non fitter, I could straight away see some problems. Fiona was very stretched out and slammed. A huge long stem on the bike (following the whole aesthetics that many of the pro teams have which usually isn’t good for most people.) and a saddle set right back on the rails. To me it looked as though she may have been trying to do a bit of a superman.
Flexibility was the next point that was addressed. As Fiona is a very active person, we knew she would be flexible with her previous background in running and currently taking up yoga and bouldering, Phil had no concerns that she would be able to ride a more aggressive position.
Contact points are super important on the bike. What I mean by contact points are the points where your bike touches you. So saddle, handlebars, shoes (cleats) Most people tend to have too wide handlebars and need some form of cleat alignment. Fiona was no stranger to this with her current bars 380 (centre to centre) and her fit proving she was much more comfortable on 360 (centre to centre). One of the things that Cyclefit spend a lot of time on is foot bed correction, providing Fiona with custom insoles and adding a wedge inside each shoe and 3mm of stack to her left shoe. All of this sounds like a lot of work but it helps with repositioning Fiona level on the bike, resulting in more stability and comfort. Kind of the key thing in a bike fit.
Being on the jig at Cyclefit means it was easy for Phil to test and try little tweaks to her position, so we played with her reach and saddle position in comparison to her current fit, finally settling on something efficient, comfortable and hopefully less back pain.