Do you remember when you were a kid and you got your first bicycle? Well I do like it was yesterday and I bet you do as well. Mine was a green Schwinn with a massive yellow banana seat, and that summer my best friend taught me to ride it with no training wheels, it was truly heaven. For some of us, we never move on or graduate to other things like a new car but instead we relish the idea of getting a new bicycle or in some cases adding to our garage of bicycles. After I started racing in 1981, I got my first racing bicycle – a grey Peugeot with Sachs Huret components and toe clips. Yeah, that is old school now, but I still remember the day I walked out of Wheatridge Cyclery in Denver with it like it was yesterday (it looked something like this).
As the years went by and bicycle racing became part of my daily life, we got new bicycles every year and that feeling never went away. It always felt like the first one. My Christmas each year became the unveiling of the new team bikes and the new team gear. Rolling through my door on two wheels and a few boxes, I’d get a similar reaction to the father in A Christmas Story receiving the leg lamp labeled “Fra-gee-lay” and would unwrap all the new gear with similar pace and precision. Those days would give me a newfound excitement and motivation to get out and ride.
There wasn’t a lot of thought that went into my position in those early years but as time passed, I experienced the significant difference a great fitting bicycle can have. I tinkered and tooled around with all kinds of adjustments on the bike in hopes I’d reach bicycle nirvana. Anyone who has ridden a lot knows what I mean. This is the exact position on the bike that if you tinker long enough, you’ll develop strong core muscles, and can be in your saddle from 3 to 5 hours at one time and literally get home pain free. I promise you if you’ve been there you know.
So if you’re like me, each time you get a new bicycle and make a few adjustments, you get out to ride in hopes of finding this bicycle fit nirvana. After the new bike smell wears off and the first scratch on our shiny new toy is made, we hope we can find this happy place. I’ve been lucky – and by that I mean luckier than most – that I’ve had many years of bicycle nirvana, but things always creep up. A few years ago after getting my new BH G5 while riding for a Denver based masters team with Michael Carter, I met Todd Carver at Retul through our Northeast Sales Manager Doug Ziewacz. Todd having worked side by side with Andy Pruitt, launched Retul a few years earlier to help people find cycling nirvana and has been helping hundreds of people ever since.
As I’ve gotten older I’ve left little to chance. Last year, I got another BH G5 and wanted it to be setup identical to the previous version, so I went to see Todd at their new offices in Boulder on a sunny Saturday afternoon last July. While we made some adjustments and improvements over my previous fit and worked on some slight numbness in my right foot (which by the way is totally gone now) the fit was almost identical to my previous G5 and I’ve really been enjoying both bicycles since getting them identically setup. Retul’s precision and technology are unlike anything I’ve seen in bike fitting in 30 years and I can definitively say that no other fit system I’ve tried is as complete or reproducible as this system.
Well this is where the story turns. After 30 years of new bikes, this year I got a Trek Madone 700, via the team I’m racing for – 787 Racing here in Austin – and I cannot get the fit to work. I’ve tried copying the measurements exactly to my BH G5’s and fiddled with my position but for whatever reason I just cannot make it work. The bike feels awkward underneath me; I feel like I’m leaning back on the bike and that when I stand the front end feels aggressive. I’m going to work with a local Retul fit specialist because I am bound and determined to get the new team bike to work for the 2013 race season. I’m just hopeful that running it through a fit will get me there, but if not, Todd – I might be coming to see you again in Boulder!
Regardless of these challenges with the new bike I’m having more fun riding that I have in a long-time, so to quote something I saw the other day, “I don’t ride to add years to my life, I ride to add life to my days.” Good luck riding and picking your new bicycle in 2013.