Having completed thousands of Bike Fits I can attest to the fact that a large percentage of cyclists lean towards sexy looking bikes and components and then, when they experience back, neck, hands, feet, etc. pain they make an appointment with me for a bike fit expecting a miracle solution that will accept outrageously unfit bikes and components. My question to them is often “do you want sexy or comfortable?”. They often have to choose only one. Let’s review the 3 most common challenges your bike fitter faces:

#1 Handlebar/Stem: Integrated handlebar/stem that is too low, too long and/or incorrectly shaped hand holds.

Solution: BEFORE choosing your steed and components have your ‘biomechanically correct’ Reach and Stack numbers in hand – do not exceed these parameters i.e. for Reach you can adjust stems by +/- 10mm for most integrated stems (but expect to pay dearly for a new set of bars) and for Stack you cannot go lower or higher than the limitations of the fork setup e.g. 2022 Specialized Roubaix ‘Future Stem’ has very little room for adjustment, etc. and finally for shape be prepared for the ‘claw grip’ for handlebars that are not traditionally and comfortably ’round’.

#2 Saddle: Listen up people “The saddle that comes on your new bike. with very few exceptions, WILL NOT WORK FOR YOU”. It is nearly impossible that you will be the lucky person that fits the exact shape, width, length and firmness saddle included in the original build. Pressure, especially pressure that causes numbness of soft tissue areas, often leads to seriously damaging personal area health challenges including sexual disfunction, prostate issues and saddle sores.

Solution: Set aside and extra $200 budget to find your perfect saddle NOTE: “Perfect Saddle” is the one that has little or no pressure on soft tissue areas and you forget about after 10-15 min of riding.

#3 Morton’s neuroma aka Numb or Hot feet: Ignore foot numbness and/or hotfoot at your peril. This often leads to many years of treatment by podiatrists – and often to permanent injury.

Solution: Proper fitting cycling shoes. A bicycle shoe should feel the same as a comfortable pair of regular shoes – mine feel like sneakers. When looking for shoes to solve foot issues the most important measurements are length AND WIDTH. There are very few cycling shoe manufacturers who serve the more than 50% cycling population that need shoes that are EEE wide. I have thousands of shoe sizing measurements and it is glaringly obvious that more than half of the customers I see have shoes that are too narrow – sexy looking yes, but too narrow. We are distributer of Lake Shoes who are one of the VERY FEW manufacturers whose EEE are truly wide shoes. SIDI Mega offer a wide (EE width) and Shimano and Specialized are ‘E wide’.

In summary – see your bike fitter or LBS with ‘shop fitter’ experience BEFORE choosing your new bike. As a bike fitter I expect to be able to provide a solution where you can ride comfortably for 3-5 hours. it is very difficult and sometime impossible to achieve that goal when you choose “Sexy over Comfortable”

A cycling race tactic is a specific plan by a single or group of riders in support of a particular strategy. The strategy is the overall game plan and the tactics are the many little movements it takes during the game to achieve the goals of your strategy. Plan A is to have a pre-race strategy. Plan B is to make Plan A work! All racing tactics can be categorized as follows;

  • POSITIVE (work done for team or individual goal – effort placed on advancing pace/ group)
  • NEUTRAL (Holding your place but neither advancing nor blocking the outcome)
  • NEGATIVE (Working against or attempting to undermine efforts of other teams or individuals – reacting to other riders moves and therefore works against your result)

The “BIG 5” race tactics: ATTACKING, BLOCKING, CHASING, BRIDGING and SPRINTING. I will send you specific sheets on these but 1st and foremost you need to fully understand the following;

Fundamental tactics that apply to every race:

  • Always remember what the overall planned strategy is. You can change tactics as long as it does not affect the strategy.
  • Never go to a race to lose unless either you or your team cannot physically support any kind of winning action – when you would then race to place (even if it is a ‘training’ race’)
  • Never chase your own teammate.
  • Never do your competition’s work for them
  • Never underestimate your competition’s strength.
  • Always try to toughen every race you enter.
  • Every ounce of energy you expend must be to your own or your teams’ benefit.
  • Racing aggressively is your best weapon.
  • No matter how hard you are hurting do not let anyone know i.e. look relaxed and SMILE

Fundamental facts that apply to every race are;

1)      If you are not 30% stronger than the rider or group on your wheel then you should not be ahead of that rider or group unless you have a special purpose for pulling at that point.

2)      Only 30% of a peleton, usually only the riders in the front 10 to 15, are a major factor during a bicycle race. The rest of the riders are

  • Sitting in to save it for the finish.
  • Barely strong enough to hold on at the back.
  • Injured or sick and are trying to recover.

These 3 groups of riders are most often the causes of crashes so if you want to increase your safety make certain that you ride in the front 1/3rd while at the same time staying off the front (unless you have a really good reason to be up there).

3)      A break must have at least one team rider in it or it will almost certainly come back

4)      The peleton will often lose focus on a break which is more than;

  • Women’s Cat 3/4, Juniors and Cat 4/5:     20 to 25 seconds ahead
  • Men’s Cat 3 Women’s Cat 1/2:                 30 to 40 seconds ahead
  • Men’s Cat 1/2:                                          50-60 seconds ahead
  • Pros:                                                          Never

Learn to judge these times i.e. how long your lead has to be in order to stay away in a break