the day finally arrived. bike fitting appointments for both my bikes at whole athlete with dario, up in san rafael. I was thoroughly recommended to him by the metromint racers, and figured I was long overdue for a fitting. as previously mentioned, I’ve been off the bike for a while now, partially because of my quad tendonitis, and also because I didn’t want to jump back on the bikes without getting a proper fitting which would address the slight leg length discrepancy I felt that I had, as well as hip, knee, and ankle alignment. I wanted to be sure to cover all the issues before riding hard again.
so there I was, outside of the whole athlete fitting studio, 1pm on a monday. I showed up a hair earlier to set up the bikes, and change into a kit. to my surprise, the fitting studio was on a street right off of the main strip, a small ways away from the beginning of fairfax-bolinas, which is the road that eventually leads to alpine dam. oh, the memories…
framed jerseys from various national champions, prestigious titles all earned with various fitting or training done with dario. that titanium serotta is also his.
various bars, saddles, and stems on the shelf for really tweaking with a bike setup. there were 2 stationary trainers set up in the room, both on wooden boxes with wheels on them. in a distant way, it reminded me of a goldsprints lineup.
the picture up on the wall was a shot from the san francisco grand prix, and the trainer in front of it is the one I had my fitting on. dario was wrapping up a phone call while I was standing around taking pictures, but shortly thereafter, he introduced himself to me, and we started the fitting process. the first thing he asked me was, “any injuries?”. I went into detail about seeing the sports orthopedic and podiatrist, the mri result, and how I’m currently dealing with my leg muscles to prevent future tendonitis. it’s all healed up now, the final step was just the fittings. dario walked me through what he was going to do, as he mounted the caad10 onto the trainer.
my speedplay cleats had to be mounted onto my sidi road shoes, so that was the first thing to be changed out. he left the cleat float at their defaults, and proceeded to swap out the look 3 bolt cleats for the speedplay ones. they were mounted all the way back towards to heel of the shoe, since my toes were fairly long in comparison to my foot length. this ensured that the cleat would cross the front bone of my foot, where the power gets delivered. the cleats were mounted neutrally, left and right, of the shoe edge. I had a feeling they’d need to be adjusted so that my foot sat farther out from the cranks, but waited to hear for his feedback. while putting on my shoes, he recorded the various lengths and angles of the current setup, making sure to document all the important bits for future reference.
I jumped onto the bike, he told me to pedal. not even a minute later, he told me to jump off. he leveled out the saddle angle, and I jumped back on for a couple more revolutions. he measured my knee extension angle at the bottom of the pedal stroke. I jumped off. then he raised my seat post a little. I jumped back on and pedaled. my hips were tracking outside of where my cleats were positioned. he had me take off my shoes, so that he could move the cleats towards the inside, giving them a wider stance over the bike. more pedaling. he measured the angles again, my left leg was spot on, but my right was extending more, a sign that it was shorter. there was also more pressure on the inside of the foot, near my big toe – I didn’t feel like I was pedaling neutrally.
he added about half a centimeter of alternating shims to increase the stack height, with one additional shim to counteract the inside foot pressure I was describing. one last time on the bike. then the glorious feeling of pedaling neutrally, using both my legs with equal effort, and my right calf not gliding across the seat tube bottle cage. I was finally pedaling efficiently. finally.
I continued to pedal, and he asked about my hands. I described the feeling of the hoods, how it felt in the drops, and my constant over-reaching actions to get to my brake levers in the drops. he tilted the bars down a hair, which made a huge difference. not so much while holding the hoods, but more so when my hands were in the drops, reaching to get to the levers. the 25mm headset spacer that came stock on the bike gave the perfect amount of handlebar drop for my setup, and was left on. I guess I can have the shop cut down the fork, now. I’ll probably leave a 5mm spacer on the top though, because it’s the pro thing to do.
after all the adjustments were made, I felt like I was riding a completely different bike (minus the fact that it actually is completely different bike from my previous supersix – the angles and lengths are actually the same, though). one of the things that felt the most different was the feeling of pedaling naturally. I was no longer fighting with my right leg to keep it from brushing my bottle cage, nor was I hyper extending it to compensate for the shorter length. all the months I spent forcing it into a position that wasn’t natural seemed to dissipate. and more than anything, pedaling just felt proper. pedaling with the osymetric chainrings for the first time was also an interesting experience, however, I’ll hold off from describing the actual sensation, since I’m in the midst of doing a long writeup on them.
there were 2 pedal washers on the right pedal, they were remnants of my supersix build, where I had 2 washers installed in an attempt to get the look keos spaced farther out. dustin (at the shop) transfered them over to the speedplays – dario kept them on there, they kept the stance wide on my right leg, and seemed to help in extension. we moved onto the langster build, which moved much faster. he dailed in all the saddle and seat post measurements, mimicking the caad10 setup. he shimmed and spaced my right shoe, and I jumped onto the bike to pedal. shortly after, we realized that the stock arione had softer padding in it, which meant that it sunk down more when I sat on it. the saddle was raised slightly, and after a couple leg length measurements, it was fit.
the front end of the langster didn’t need any tweaks, the bikes were now done!
I went into his office, where he printed out the measurements for me, and we wrapped up a successful fitting appointment.
thank goodness for bike fitters like dario. it’s hard to see problems in pedaling technique and efficiency when you’re the one pedaling. it really takes a trained eye to notice small nuances of someone’s stroke, and dario was more than helpful in showing me what was the issue with my current setup. it really is some of the best money that you can spend on a bike. this isn’t to say that a fitting will benefit everyone – it all comes down to rider preference. some people pedal neutrally, their legs are the same length, maybe they don’t log enough miles yearly to adequately justify getting a fit, or don’t push their legs into oblivion trying to increase their vo2 max. but for the people that want to most out of a bike’s setup, that have discomfort on long or hard riding, or that want to make sure they’re pedaling correctly before training for a whole season, I’d strongly recommend getting a bike fit. I practically wasted all my training from the previous months because my right leg wasn’t even pedaling correctly. if you’re in the market for a bike fit, ask shops, racers, or other cyclists you trust to see who they’d recommend. I was thoroughly satisfied with my fitting at whole athlete, and definitely glad to have talked to travis and connor about him beforehand. dario has 10+ years of fitting under his belt, and athletes up and down california with proven race results. I’m pleased to say that it was a great experience, and plan on coming back yearly (if needed) to tweak my setups. after all, the body grows, moves, and adapts.
I’ll be rolling out to marin tomorrow morning to get my legs back in shape. let the good times roll!