Senior Bunny Gets a Bike Fit

By Vicki Grover

Training FX is located around 3rd Ave and Clark Drive in Vancouver. I walked my commuter bike into the large warehouse where the music was blasting and really buff people were sweating it out over a group workout of some sort. It was a large gym I realized. I thought I might be in the wrong place, but Anthony King appeared from a side room and greeted me with a smile and “they’re going at it really hard because there’s a competition coming up.” “For what?” I asked over the din. “It’s for something called Crossfit.” Anthony went on to explain that he shared “office” space with the Crossfit group as we wheeled my bike into his office. Anthony handed me a tank top, told me to remove my shoes, then go get changed in the washroom. On return he cheerily removed my panier carrier and put my bike up on a stand where it could be measured. He asked how my ride down was and I complained I couldn’t find my bike shorts, so I had been subjected to a bit of pinching and squirming. “Hmm..” he said “You might find part of the procedure uncomfortable as you have to stand against the wall and have this hydraulically driven cylinder push up into your err…crotch area to measure leg length.” I was about to leave when I noticed that it stuck out of the wall horizontally. Relieved that he was up to no shenanigans, I relaxed a bit. He demonstrated and assured me it would not lift me off the floor. So, changing places, I gripped and released the cylinder. As it ascended and stopped I thought, this must be what it’s like to have a woodie. After a few toe raises, to ensure it was properly seated, my leg length was finally determined and carefully recorded.

Anthony measured my feet, shoulder width, height (to my surprise I realized I’d shrunk) and arm length. He spent sometime entering these dimensions into a computer program and after a time pronounced me long of arm and leg and short of torso. I was immediately time warped back to when my best friend and I went to get our first bras. I distinctly remember the fitter saying to me “Dear, you’re just the teeniest bit short waisted.” I had no idea what she meant at the time and it took all these years for it to finally make sense. I also recalled my best friend quipping “This could be the start of something big.” For my friend it turned out to be true – me – not so much! But, I digress.

Next Anthony turned to my bike and after a few measurements told me I had been riding with my seat way too low and my handlebars too high. He demonstrated what looked to me, like hanging off a window sill. I actually had to buy a new seat post as the existing one was too short. He adjusted the seat height, then turned to the crank. It turns out that even though my Specialized was supposed to be a women’s bike, it had the regular sized crank. He told me he had never seen a women’s bike with the proper length crank – interesting. Turning to my handlebars, he measured, rotated and adjusted for cockpit size and height. He found my bars were too wide, even for my monkey arms, and advised me to cut 2 cm off each side. All the while Anthony kept up an interesting banter about bike fitting, Italian bike tools and their superiority, Subaru repair woes, barefoot shoe technology and what wild and crazy parties the CrossFit group held on weekends. This weekend the theme was Roller Derby and he pointed to the skates in the adjoining office. I found this wildly amusing and wished I could come, but alas I was not a member.

After about an hour and a half of measuring and adjusting, Anthony pronounced my bike ready to carry me home. With my printout stowed in my panier, I waved bye to Anthony and rode home. I noticed it was remarkably easier to climb up hills and my bike felt overall more comfortable. I decided to take my mountain bike in the next weekend.

The following weekend, I reported the change in ride to Anthony who said easier climbing is often experienced as all the leg muscles were now being used. Made sense to me. Turning to my Reign, Anthony found the same issues around seat and handlebar height as with my commuter bike. He whistled when he measure the handlebar width and told me I had to cut 3.5 cm from each end. “That’s quite a bit..?” I said, worried I wouldn’t have any leverage on turning. There ensued an interesting discussion about leverage and steering. He assured me I would find turning quicker and would be well able to steer around any obstacles. He convinced me by using the example of pushups. “Would it be easier to do a pushup with your arms spread out to the side or more under your body?” Discussion over, he scored my seat post so I would be able to find the correct height after dropping the seat for downhill, and I was soon on my way home.

The next day, I found my plumbing pipe cutting tool, moved my brakes and grips out of the way, took a deep breath and cut down my bars. This done, I proceeded to Burnaby mountain and began the climb up to the university. Now, I’ve never been able to climb the whole way up, but I got a lot farther before I had to jump off and push. On the downhill, I found Anthony was correct in that I had no trouble steering. As a bonus, at the end of the ride I noticed my left shoulder, which usually complained after a descent, was just fine. Hmm..I thought, I guess that was due to my arms being too far apart.

To sum up, I was very pleased with the results of my sessions with Anthony. For one bike fit, he charges $200 and $75 for an additional bike. I was lucky as I booked at the Outdoor and Bike show and had a $50 discount. For more information, here is the TrainingFX website address.

http://www.trainingfx.com/

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