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Bike Science

Then we shall begin. The working title for this post was “Weird Science” which created a rampant Kelly LeBrock fantasy putting me back a good half hour, and generating outpourings of 1980s teenage angst not suitable for the Public Internet. So sitting then, that’s far more respectable and middle aged.

Which is exactly how I was depicted during my fitting at Bike-Science so I’m not sharing those photos. Instead here’s Jez -half man, half Sasquatch- attempting to wrest his huge frame around that all Carbon Time Trial bike. I couldn’t decide if it was flexing or quaking.

Me? I was quaking at the prospect of being wired up to the mains, rendered in 3-D then gently let down that no amount of precision bike fitting could compensate for my injury and age ravaged collection of stringy bones. First tho, Jez was fitted up on his new TT and older Road bike. This took a while which played to my secret hope we’d run out of hours before I could be humiliated. Sadly unfulfilled, my time would come.

Andy – the man behind the camera and concepts of BikeScience – takes you from your existing riding position to something more precisely engineered through a combination of tests, fitting and adjustments. Some of it is about angles of knee, hip, back and wrist. Some more looks at tweaking out wobbly pedalling actions all in the pursuit of efficiency and comfort. The changes don’t feel that great, but the results are really quite outstanding.

For me, the experience started on the bike pedalling away but going nowhere. Turbo Trainers are for proper roadies so I didn’t put much effort in. Andy kitted me head to toe with electrodes and motion captured my hunched back turtle posture. I assumed his frown was for my frankly pathetic effort at pedalling, but no it was more about how I’d shoehorned my organic gibbon frame into the carbon road bike one.

He then dispatched me from bike to bench to test my flexibility and core strength. Unsurprisingly none of those three things were easy to find. And between my grunted exertions on being asked to wrap a foot around a ceiling light, I could feel the smug grin from Jez whose been secretly manning up with daily core exercises for a month.

So the synopsis after ten minutes of failing to do anything other than excuse my piss poor performance through a rambling history of my broken bones, Andy determined I lacked hamstring flexibility, hip rotation, any obvious core strength plus one leg was shorter than the other, both of which were pointed inwards at funny angles. Yes I was paying good money to be told this. It’s like a dentist visit being castigated for a rubbish cleaning routine.**

I lifted my now trembling body back onto the bike – in a manner best thought of as an aged seal making landfall on a slippy rock – while Andy worked his magic with the numbers. Firstly he threw my seat post away lacking as it was sufficient layback, moved the huds and saddle up, had me pedal a bit, moved a few more bits, checked his stats, pondered a bit more, turned me around and stared on the other side.

At the end of this witchcraft, I was actually enjoying the turbo because the new position transmitted what little power I can generate to the rear wheel without me rocking about or gnashing in pain. Simple stuff maybe, but clever. It’s the difference between owning a hammer and knowing what to hit with it**

A quick 90 minutes on the road bike the next day was significantly more pleasant than I remember with none of the shoulder and back aches normally associated with the black stuff. The proof will be on longer rides and only if I keep up the seemingly easy but actually bloody difficult exercises Andy set me. And modify Wog the Wibbler to the same dimensions, currently it’s a million miles away which may explain why riding that one wasn’t always that comfortable either.

It’s a great setup Andy has and well worth the money if you want to ride longer and harder. Put me in mind of the session I did with Tony last year; for the price of a wheel, you get something that makes a real and long lasting difference for your riding. It doesn’t translate so well to MTBs, which doesn’t in any way explain why I still had a hankering for this hanging on Andy’s wall!

* not that I’ve been to the dentist for three years. Teeth haven’t fallen out yet. Are dentures expensive tho?

** In my case of course, that’s “everything”

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