The Vector Cycle Works studio had a bit different feel this weekend - it is still all about getting people more comfortable on their bikes, but this time there were 4 fitters in the room.
I am a BikeFit Instructor, and hosted a BikeFit Level 1 class of 3 students at the studio/my home this weekend. Level 1 is an intense two days of a little lecture with a lot of hands-on training. The main objective is to help fitters establish a good foundation for a bike fit by focusing on the foot/pedal interface.
The first day, we go over the details of cleat placement and the various tools that BikeFit provides to improve the rider's connection to the pedal. The foot/pedal interface is often overlooked as part of the fit, yet so important for mechanical efficiency and comfort. Poor cleat placement can manifest itself where you might not expect it. We take the time to understand how to assess, measure, and implement appropriate accommodations for a rider. Our students become the test subjects on this day, getting an opportunity to gain experience with each other and different pedal systems.
Sometimes, in a class like this, things will go pretty smoothly and you get some relatively straightforward people. That's no fun! We had some interesting things going on, and that was great - the students got experience with different wedge options, use of pedal spacers, use of leg length shims, and got to see some things that might be a bit counter-intuitive. We also got to work with Speedplay, Look, Shimano, and Crank Bros. pedal solutions over the weekend. Each has their nuances, so it's good to get that variety.
For day 2, we take it a bit further and look at the total bike fit, focusing on the contact points on the bike. We had two victims, err, subjects come in to give the students an opportunity to fit someone with very little background information. We had a young triathlete with a new-to-him triathlon bike, and a mountain biker who had just built up his brand new full suspension 29er. Essentially a couple of clean slate fits. The students get the opportunity to figure out what questions to ask, how to ask them, and how to hone in on the main focus points for the rider. I tend to step back, observe, and interject as needed.
The students were from northern Indiana, northern Ohio, and the Boston area. I like keeping the class small for maximum interaction and 3 was just right. It was a great group of guys and we had a lot of fun. While class goes from 9-5 with an hour for lunch, a couple of the guys stayed until around 8:30 on Saturday night, where we chatted about all sorts of things related to cycling, fitting, the bike industry, human movement, and anything else that came up. It's great to see the passion in others.
When I teach, I can't help but reflect on my experience as a fitter. I love what I do, and love sharing the knowledge. Riding a bike should be a wonderful thing, and helping people experience that without pain is what makes me tick. It seems like ages since I was on the other side of the classroom, taking in everything I could from some really top-notch people (teachers and fellow students) who have been a positive influence on my life and have helped shape my style. The students in this class have very different backgrounds and fit experience (from no experience at all to 10 years of fitting), and each had their own learning style. As they get the chance to practice, they will develop their own fitting style, as well. BikeFit is one of many bike fitting protocols, but it's a very effective one, and should provide a great foundation for the students. I look forward to keeping in touch with them and hearing of their fitting successes.
If you are interested in learning about becoming a BikeFit-certified pro bike fitter, you can read more here. I will be hosting another BikeFit Level 1 class November 4-5.
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