Monday, May 5, 2014

Confessions: Christine's Body Geometry Fit

I have discussed the importance of having your bicycle fit to your body. I have touched on what it means to be a fitter but there's one important perspective that has not been expressed: What is it like to go through a Body Geometry Fit?

Our newest employee, Christine, recently had her bike fitted to her and I asked her to say a few words about the process:

I have a confession. Years after purchasing my first bike-store quality bike, I still hadn't made the important investment in a proper fitting.

Some History

I'm a Bike enthusiast who enjoys a bike ride because it's the closest I can be to acting like a 10-year-old. I'm also a middle of the pack, age group, triathlete. I own many bells and whistles - fancy, carbon fiber frames, carbon Zipp wheels, power meter, Di2 Electronic shifting, all top of the line stuff, yet 

here I was, the start of my 7th year without a proper bike fit.

Recently, I realized I wasn't as comfortable riding. My bike was dictating how long my ride would be, instead of the other way around. It was time to take action.

I was skeptical about the true benefit of the fit process. Could a couple of centimeter adjustments here and there really make me more comfortable?

How It Went Down

The process itself is so simple and enjoyable I felt as though my bike and I spent some time together at a spa. Initially, I spoke to the fitter, I'll call him John Hollingsworth (because that's his name) about my riding style and what I wanted to accomplish. I explained that I wanted to go further and stay comfortable. He then conducted some range of motion assessments and took some relative measurements.
I quickly noticed that attention to detail is key to the Body Geometry fit process. Everything was taken into account, down to the length of my leg bones.

Some of the major factors that were addressed were my knee angle going from an under-utilized 22 degrees to a perfect 30 degree extension. My reach was shortened to increase control and weight distribution. Both adjustments made a serious impact on my level of comfort.  Shoes are also a part of the equation. My cleats have been adjusted and John recommended an impressive Body Geometry insole which adds some much needed arch support to straighten knee rotation. All the information is compiled and used to adjust the bike to me.

A bike is a wonderful invention, offering something for, quite literally, everyone. As a young child, it's a right of passage to learn to ride all by yourself. Later, we use bikes to get to friends or school. Bikes to commute, get exercise, challenge ourselves against ourselves, or even against our friends. Young and old, fit and those who aim to be, commuters and enthusiasts all have a bike. If you've made the investment in a great bike, you also deserve the bike to fit you the way it was intended.

As if the fit process weren't enough, the very best part is the result!I feel so in tune with my bike, it's like a whole new experience. Better yet, a new bike which was made just for me. I'm pushing the mileage and remaining comfortable. You truly don't know how much fun you are missing by riding a bike and not having it fitted properly to your body.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Battle Royal: Mio VS Polar RC3

Technology has never been so prevalent in this sport we love. At one point everyone would ride bikes to get away from numbers and expectations. Then everyone needed to know how fast they are going, then how far they have gone. Now it didn't count unless the GPS map of your ride with heart rate, climb and slope was shared on STRAVA.

With all these additional bells and whistles available, heart rate is something we at the shop take very seriously. If your speed is off, your map doesn't quite nail down the mileage or your watts are slightly inaccurate, it's easy to calibrate or compensate to correct. One's heart rate is a constant. There is no inaccurate heart rate, only inaccurate readings.  Not to mention it is often a matter of staying healthy or pushing one's body too hard. Needless to say, it needs to be dead on.

The Contenders 
Polar RC3 and sensor

Polar has been a long time standard of the store due to its medical grade heart rate. Instead of relying on algorithms from every third recorded thump, Polar records every up, down and valley in between of one's heart rate.

Mio Alpha Sport Watch
Mio is the new kid on the block. It is one of the first to implement an infrared sensor to read heart rate through the wrist. This is a big deal because before this, if an athlete wanted to check their respective lubs and dubs they required a chest strap.

The only controversy of the strapless method that Mio promotes is that it has only been proven accurate at a resting heart rate. Due to the faster pace and sporadic nature of cardio, the more exertion the body is put under, the more inaccurate it becomes.  

The Show Down

We wanted to check for ourselves. So we sent Neal to do his normal work out with a Polar RC3 featuring medical-grade heart rate and a Mio Alpha to see how close they were. The idea being that the Polar is completely correct, and how well does the Mio hold up? The results were impressive.

Clearly the Mio didn't quite match up to Neal's needs. Over 50 bpm off of medical grade readings. If you need to monitor your heart rate while watching a movie or reading I'm sure the Mio will be more than adequate. However, most people interested in heart rate need to know it during physical exertion which just happens to be the weakest point for Mio. If you want to listen to your body, get a product that can really listen.