Bike Fit

Bike Fit

You’ve been thinking about it, maybe obsessing about it for weeks or months. And then, this morning you woke up and decided it’s the day to buy a new bike. It may be your first bike in a long time, or maybe ever. Where do you start? First, find a bike shop. Maybe one comes recommended to you, or you simply find the one closest to your house. You walk-in, and a salesperson approaches and asks, “What brings you in today?” You say something like, “Um, I’m looking for a bike.” And so it begins.

Depending on the bike shop, the employee could be working on commission, or the shop numbers have been down so they need to sell a bike today to make payroll or move old inventory. Or maybe, they truly care about your experience, and want to put you on a bike that will make you fall in love with cycling. If it goes well, they’ve now earned your trust and acquired a return customer.

So who do you get? Depending on the shop and the motives of the sales associate, your experience can vary, and the outcome can either be a bad experience that keeps on giving, or, the start of a long, healthy relationship.

My first experience was the former. I walked into a used bike shop in Seattle. I was 18, and needed a way to get around to the three jobs I had at the time. I told the sales guy what I thought I was looking for, and he pointed me to a cluster of road bikes. I had never ridden a proper road bike, and was immediately scared. He then came over and pointed out a bike, and said, “That one, that one is perfect for you.” He asked me, “isn’t she pretty? It’s a spare bike from a pro team, Masi. Have you heard of it? It was custom painted for them. See the dark green sparkle and all those logos from the team’s sponsors? You won’t find another bike like this one! Throw your leg over it, now grab it by the bars and saddle and lift. Perfect. It fits you perfectly.” 

$400 later, a small fortune for me at the time, I was walking out the door with a new bike. I walked it down the street because I was terrified to ride it., I had no idea how to shift, and the tires were so skinny. Things felt hard to reach and unstable, but I was told I would “get used to it.” And, for the most part, I did. Eventually, I worked up the courage to ride, wobbly and uncomfortably at first, but I was riding. It took some amount of me staring at and hesitantly playing with them, but I figured out the click-click of the up and down Shimano shifting. I should have asked the sales guy at the bike shop, but I didn’t even know what questions to ask. I was so intimidated and nervous, I just wanted to get out of there as quickly as possible and stop feeling like an idiot. Of course, what I know now is this was completely the wrong bike for me. 

Let’s look at some numbers, the Masi was a 54cm. I ride a 48cm. The stem was a 110. I ride a 110 (the one thing that was correct, but not with that 54cm top tube!). The bars were 42cm. I ride 38cm bars. The cranks were 170cm, and I ride 165cm. And don’t even get me started on the saddle… Over the next 10 years, I would go through saddle after saddle. Some would wear through my jeans in a week, and others would wear through in a month or two. And no matter what I tried, all would cause me great discomfort. Why was riding a bike so miserable? 

When you’re new to something, the questions that should be asked are nearly never asked because you simply don’t know. We often accept being uncomfortable, or even in pain because we don’t have an understanding that it should be any different. We’re often told, “ah, you’ll get used to it,” like riding a bike is something that everyone has to suffer through to perhaps enjoy somewhere down the road. Think about it. We don’t suffer with new shoes that fit well. Even a good pair of leather boots or shoes should be comfortable from the start, and not something to be broken in or get used to. A bike should be no different.

Many years, and many bikes later I would discover something called a bike fit. I honestly can’t recall my first experience because it was unremarkable. Again, it was someone else telling me I was comfortable and that I would get used to it. I didn’t. It was not until I experienced my first Retül fit that I learned what it meant to truly be comfortable on a bike. This experience was so life-changing on the bike that I decided to become a Retül fitter myself, and went to Retül University in Boulder, Colorado. Soon after, I began working with Studio Velo in Mill Valley, CA focusing on women’s specific fits. I wanted to create an environment for women to be comfortable talking about their soft bits, and help them ask the questions they did not know needed to be asked. 

Retül takes you, the rider, into account with the goal of collecting and analyzing your data to increase ride comfort, prevent injury and improve performance. Retül considers the rider’s limitations, past injuries current, and future goals, with an understanding that proper fit is a process – it’s never one and done. As you change, get stronger, or deal with challenges, so does your fit. 

So what is Retül? It’s the most advanced bicycle fitting system available today. 

A Retül bike fit is a dynamic process that uses 3D motion capture technology. It’s more than just a bike fit, it’s a way to learn about your body, figure out the root cause of your injuries, aches, pains and to help determine how a proper fit can help you achieve your cycling goals no matter your level of riding.

Using 3D motion capture technology, the Retül system accurately measures every degree of movement and millimeter of distance, providing you and your fitter with data to support the choices made during the fit. So in real time, you and your fitter work together to make decisions about your fit and your cycling experience, and with the real time 3D capture you see what the fitter is looking at. Nothing is a secret, no guessing, and no fitter telling you what you need to look like on the bike. Your fit is a conversation where everything is on the table.

How does it work? 

Step 1

Step one includes a pre-fit physical assessment, taking into account your body’s limitations, previous injuries, any current pain, and goals on the bike.  Expect to be asked to do a plank, touch your toes, and walk. How you move tells so much about your body, range of motion, and level of functionality. This is not a test that you pass or fail. Your body is simply telling a story, and your fitter is listening.

Step 2

Now it’s time to get on your existing bike, or on a fit bike. The fitter will then place LED markers on 8 different points of your body (think hinge points) which will be tracked by the Retül Vantage Motion Capture system. The system collects real-time, three-dimensional data from each pedal stroke creating a dynamic fit experience. In real terms, that mean you get to watch a moving stick figure avatar that is a real-time 3D motion capture of you pedaling and moving on the bike. You’ll see corresponding numbers that show your angles moving in real-time. How cool is that?!

Step 3

The real-time data is compiled into the Retul fit software so that the fitter can look at the numbers, discuss what they mean with you, and then start to dial you into your perfect riding position taking into account the information gathered during your pre-fit assessment. Things that may change during your fit, starting with your three contact points: your pedals, shoes, cleat placement, and insoles. Your next contact point is your saddle. This is what often takes the most time to dial in. We then look forward to your bars, bar width, shape and hood placement. 

Step 4

Once you and your fitter have dialed in your final bike position, the fitter will create a digital map of your final bike set up using the Retül Zin tool. The bike data and Zin tool measurements are generated into a complete fit report that you can reference anytime after the fit. Buy a new bike down the line? Your numbers are available and the new bike is ready to be dialed in.

Depending on the changes made during your fit, there can be an adaptation period where your body settles into the new setup. Often riders are comfortable for the first time so want to go out and ride all day, but we recommend easing into things to let your muscles adapt to the changes no matter how big or small, because on top of wanting to improve performance we also want to prevent injury. 

Not all bike shops have your best interest in mind, but many absolutely do care. Do your research: does the bike shop offer bike fits, and most importantly do they offer Retül 3D motion capture fits? Maybe the bike you are lusting after is not sold by the shop that offers Retül bike fits. That’s ok – you can still get a fit on a fit bike, and you will walk away with your report knowing what your fit numbers are, and what the fit should feel like. With this knowledge you can then go to any bike shop and get the bike you are after, and even negotiate to walk away with a new bike that has the right stem saddle and bars that you need. The best thing you can do for yourself to make that next new bike day great is to get a Retül bike fit.

Happy pedaling. 

2019  #longlivesupermint

2019 #longlivesupermint

A look back at a season to remember

We kicked off the season with HB Supermint Team Camp – Media Camp and VOS Stage Race in AZ, where we broke away, crashed, broke a lot of wheels, chased, stood on the podium, won and enjoyed our time together.

Next stop Redlands CA for the Redlands Cycling Classic. We held on for dear life as strong winds tried to rip us from our bikes during the Time Trial. We had some crashes and Podiums and experienced sacrifice and incredible team work throughout the following stages.

Next Stop was the first stop on the USA crit Series Calendar in El Paso TX. Strong winds and nightfall made for an interesting race. Lilly got away in an early break with one other rider, and the field worked hard to bring them back and everyone thought it would happen. But then, LeighAnn jumped across and the gap went back out. Harriet and I would spend the rest of the race covering attacks until Harriet was taken out in a crash. The timing and getting caught up in the crash worked out for me as it allowed me to pull the plastic bag that had tangled in my front wheel… With a little help from our friends we both got back in, and Lilly and LA went one-two, and I took the field sprint for 4th. Lilly would take lap leader and USA crits overall leader for the series opening race.

More stage racing on tap as we headed to Arkansas for Joe Martin Stage Race. What an absolute blast racing hard with this group of ladies at what I would consider the best version yet of Joe Martin! I have raced many versions of JMSR over the years and hands down this year’s courses were the most challenging and provided teams with the best opportunities to truly race hard and challenge each other. We walked away with two podiums, 8th overall, many lessons learned, and so many laughs were shared with these wonderful humans.

Next stop Alabama for Sunny King. We were defending champions, with Lilly winning out of a break last year in the rain with now teammate Harriet. We raced a strong race this year, just missing the podium with Lily sprinting to 4th out of a late race break started by Whitney, who rode an incredible race along side Julie, Harriet and myself. Even though we raced a strong race, I believe we can always learn and get better. I went back to watch the race that was live-streamed to learn from how we rode as a team, how other teams rode, and to see the race from a different perspective. In the final laps I knew we needed to keep the pressure on as shown below. When I saw this part of the video I got a bit choked up. I want to thank Brad Sohner for the acknowledgment and kind words.  Supermint is a team unlike any other I have had the honor to ride for. Every single rider is willing to sacrifice themselves for one another and I truly love animating the race and giving my everything for these ladies. So thank you Brad for the coverage and phenomenal support of women’s racing.

More Crit racing on tap and the second stop on the USA Crits Calendar in Athens, Georgia. We had a small but strong crit loving squad of Julie and myself. Having placed 4th in the first race of the series we knew it was all about points, so that is what I went for all night while trying to stay out of all the crashes. Mission accomplished! What an honor to stand on the top step at the 40th edition putting on the USA Crits overall leader’s jersey, and to be able to share the moment with my husband Gino (UGA alum!) and teammate Julie!

Back to Stage racing! Our next stop was Tour of the Gila in Silver City NM. My entire racing career I swore I would never race this race, and would retire happy. Then last year Supermint told me I was going, and it quickly became my favorite stage race of all time, so I was super excited to return again this year with the team to ride for these fantastic women who achieved two podiums and 8th in GC. This was a fantastic race for me because I was able to ride with a super focused goal and that was to protect Jess so that meant make it over all of the climbs with the pack and sprint her into the finish to not lose time on GC and I did. It was an honor to ride for her.

The team went on to race Tour of CA achieving most combative rider and 3rd on a fantastic sprint stage finish.

Back at home I took on the famous PDX Ronde finishing it in its entirety was a check on the bucket list for me, one that I never need to do again. By the numbers: 70.9miles pedaled • 5hr 21min rolling time • 347 TSS • Temp high 95 • 8143 ft of climbing up to 21% grades.

Stop number three on the USA crits Calendar, Winston Salem rated one of the toughest courses in the Series. Followed by the only one day UCI road race in the US. 90 degree temps, sweltering humidity, and the largest field we have seen, including international teams that were in the US for the UCI race. We went in with a lot of cards to play and options as race leader: Lilly was in the lap leader jersey, and team being so close in team competition, we wanted the race to be hard so we made it so. I was focused on point sprints and the finish to maintain race leader. The team rode fantasticly, countering off the sprints where I took full points on every one, attacking and attacking to keep it fast and bouncing back from crashes. However,on the final lap a crash in the front of the field with two turns to go lost us our chance to contest the sprint for the win. Lily collected me in the chaos to chase the leaders who slipped through, and I came in 7th with team mates coming in close behind to move us up in to the team lead. What a team effort.

Next up Winston Salem Cycling Classic UCI 1.1 Road Race. it’s a fantastic feeling when a plan comes together, and the team takes home the win. Julie and Harriet did the heavy lifting, covering moves in the first half of the race then Whitney and I took over the second half until we were both taken out in a crash from the front bunch on the last lap that landed us both in the hospital, luckily Lilly and Leigh Ann made it through making the final selection and LA powered away to a solo victory taking home the win for Supermint for the 2nd year in a row.

All the pretty colors and swelling, but no one has time for that! There is more crit racing in our future. Next stop DC and the Air Force Cycling classic, and the official kick off to crit season. It’s hard going into a race knowing you’re not at 100% but you still have a job to do, and people are counting on you. Injury is frustrating, and I rode the best I could for my Supermint teammates. Whitney was a rockstar teamie all weekend, and helped me through dark times in Sunday’s race. It’s the small words of encouragement that can pull you back up, help to refocus from the pain to the job at hand. Harriet delivered two fantastic podiums and 2nd overall after Lindsay, Liza, Julie, and Whitney rode tremendously strong races.

The hand was not getting any better, and the body was hurting pretty bad but I was not going to let that stop me, after all it was Tulsa Tough time. Stop number 4 on the USA crit Calendar in Tulsa OK, and Gino was there! With a sold out field of a 120 starters it was a heck of a kick off at blue dome with super fans, super host kid, and Supermint all over the podium! Harriet took 3rd after a massive lead out from Liza, Whitney, Leigh Ann and Lilly, Lily maintained lap leader, I snagged all the points to extend the lead in the overall series and the team extended our lead in the team competition, taking home all the beer.

Tulsa Tough Day 2 The team rode a flawless race up until the end with Liza Whitney, and myself covering moves and making the race hard. From an early attack I found myself solo off the front early on then joined by one other rider. We worked together until the chasing field brought us back, then I went again to keep chase for another lap, then we countered and countered. In the final laps I attacked, then attacked again until I had daylight from the field with 4 to go. With Roxsolt on my heels, we took turns pulling, with two riders bridging and the field in chase. Butcherbox would make contact but the field was on us. Inside two to go, I made my final attack leading into Sound Pony hill where Liza took over until the leadout train of  Leigh Ann, Lilly, and Harriet formed at the front. With one lap to go, unfortunately both Harriet and Lily went down on the last lap, unable to contest the sprint. Bike racing is not easy, but we keep showing up and giving it our all for each other.

Cry Baby Hill – I honestly can’t recall what happened but I know we raced hard, got into the break had some bad luck and wished we had finished on the top step. You know we gave it our all, and put on one hell of a show.

After Tulsa, and went home and got the bad news I knew was coming. My thumb was fractured despite initial x-ray and now the bone was displaced due to continuing to race on it despite braces and taping the hell out of it when I raced. (that pin was in there from a fracture years ago as a bike messenger) Now I had a tough decision to make keep racing or give it a rest. I did what any bike racer would do, I packed my bags and headed to Nationals.

If you watched Criterium Nationals live you would have witnessed Supermint truly racing our hearts out. We laughed, we cried, we attacked, we crashed, we attacked some more and then Lilly came away with 2nd. 

If you watched Road Nationals, you also would have seen another spectacular battle. Every day on the bike is an opportunity to learn, get stronger, and to believe in yourself a little more. Supermint may not have landed on the podium at Pro Road Nationals, but we all rode a race we can be proud of. Spending the day driving the break, I knew as the laps counted down that even if I got caught I was doing the work to best set my team up for a shot at the title while they did the same, covering move after move in the chase.

BC SUPER WEEK !!!!!!! It’s so good to be racing on the West coast!!!!!!! We kicked things off with a win! We attacked from the gun until a break of 7 got away, including Leigh Ann and Lilly. While Lily did the heavy lifting in the break Julie, Liza, Whitney, Lindsay, and I covered attack after attack until we were down to 7 laps to go. The break was close to catching us, (when a break laps the field things can get messy…) so we got to the front, Liza, Whitney and Lindsay did a 6 lap lead out decimating the remaining field. From the break Lily set Leigh Ann to take the win, and I took the field sprint. So incredibly proud of this team and how we raced.

Day 2, I got the day off. I think every athlete should spend the day as a member of the staff to truly appreciate what it takes to make a team run smoothly, and to see the race from another perspective. I truly enjoyed supporting my teammates and staff.

A crash two laps in neutralized the field, and created chaos in the pit as mechanics rushed to swap out broken bikes and wheels. Harriet and Lindsay were involved, but restarted with the field. The race was aggressive, and team covered the moves. With 6 laps to go they took to the front to set pace, the back of the field started to come apart, and with 3 to go Leigh Ann took home the gambler prime and returned to her position in the Supermint train. In the final corners we were bested, and the defending champion took the win.

Day 3 Delta UCI Road Race: Not how I thought this day would go.

It was an incredible honor to stand on my first UCI podium. It was not the plan. The race was aggressive from the start and a break formed early on. I bridged across on the hill to work with Whitney to drive and attack the break, setting Lilly up for the sprint. Teammates Leigh Ann, Lindsay, and Harriet covered moves in the field while Liza and Julie supported us in the feed zone, even executing a perfect bike change for Harriet. The team was working perfectly together. Then, things went sideways when Lily went down inside 800 meters to go. I went from leading out to sprinting in a blink of an eye, to racing for the podium, and am happy I could salvage things by getting on the podium for my Supermint teammates.

Day 4 New West Grand Prix: Leigh Ann landed another podium for the team salvaging an unfortunate turn of events.

New West is a fast course with a steep uphill continuing to climb on one side of the course, then a steep fast decent into the final turn with a continued down hill to the finish. The team covered and attacked in this 40 lap race, and as the laps came down so did the rain. With the weather, the field fell apart from crashes and splits in the field. We were left with Leigh Ann, Liza, Lindsay and myself. Leigh Ann followed a late race attack with three to go and took the gamblers prime. In the final lap, Alison Jackson of Tibco launched a massive attack on the top back side and I tried to follow. She had clean wheels so I was racing for second. Leading into the wet final turn a Rally rider made a very dangerous move on my inside and went down. I pointed my bike towards the wall of hay bales to minimize damage, Liza who was sitting on my wheel got caught up and went down as well, along with several other riders. The splintered field made it through for the finish. As someone who is accustomed to riding in the rain in the Pacific Northwest, and knows my equipments limits, this outcome to an otherwise strong race for the team was very frustrating, as it could have been avoided had the Rally rider taken the wet ground into consideration before diving the corner.

Gastown Grand Prix and final podium of BC Super week.

Attack, cover, attack was how the race went down, keeping things fast and safe into the final lap so Lilly could get into position to take 2nd. It was a fast wild race, as always in Gastown. I also ran into some PDX folks from my local shop, West End Bikes, and found myself on the wall at Global Relay headquarters.

Next up Boise ID for stop number 5 on the USA Crits Calendar

We did hometown hero Liza proud in downtown Boise. After the team put on quite a show in the sweltering heat, Harriet took second on the night. I sprinted all night for points, and continued my lead in the overall race for orange. Lilly had lap leader locked down, and we still led the team overall in the USA Crits series.

Moving on to Salt Lake City for stop number 6 on the USA Crits Calendar.

Salt Lake Criterium was on fire. Our crit squad hit squad of Whitney, Liza Harriet, and I properly handled things, extending my lead in the #racefororange, taking all three point sprints and finishing 3rd while Harriet dominated the sprint to take the win. We also took home some sweet primes and continued to lead the team competition. It was hot, speeds were high, and the course had a lot to offer including cobbles.

Stop number 7 on the USA Crits Calendar San Rafael Sunset Crit

I bet on myself and won! This is a night I won’t ever forget. I was so incredibly honored and excited to take home the win in front of friends family, and the cycling family where it all started! I took the chance following a move that went for the gambler’s prime, saw we had a gap to the field, so I took the prime and kept going until I pretty much blacked out throwing across the finish line. The small squad of Harriet, Liza and me raced hard all night attacking and covering moves. We didn’t really have a plan other than to take the mid-race points and win. I can’t thank them enough for their fantastic rides and finishing 3rd and 7th on top of all their efforts. This was my first USA Crits win, and my second time winning at San Rafael. I can’t express how special this night was to me.