Words by: Jess McMillan
I was so excited to get a brand new road bike for my birthday last summer. I live in Kelly, WY, the gateway to some of the most gorgeous road biking in the country. Out of my doorstep, I can hop on the Gros Ventre Road and head to Antelope Flats and into Grand Teton National Park in a matter of minutes. The views of the Tetons are spectacular and the wildlife is abundant. It is so fun cycle past moose, elk, and bison as long as they are not too close. There is nothing that will make you feel more vulnerable than trying to get past a bison while wearing spandex. Needless to say, I was beyond excited to ride my new bike.
There is nothing worse than getting a brand new bike and realizing that it doesn’t quite fit right. I learned quickly that if your bike doesn’t fit well your hands fall asleep. As I started out on my first ride, I quickly noticed that my left hand fell asleep. This didn’t deter me. “I thought no big deal and kept riding.” Sixty miles later, I returned home after a fantastic bike ride. I stretched out and waited for my hand to wake back up. To my surprise and to be completely honest astonishment, my hand did not wake back up and I was unable to use it. A little alarmed, I once again thought that it would get better over time. Well… it didn’t and I kept riding my bike. This is where I went completely wrong. Instead of thinking about my bike fit, I thought there must be something wrong with me, so I called my physio and made an appointment.
My physio was able to get my hand back to working and I continued riding my bike. And the cycle began. Ride bike, lose sensation and control of my hand, go to physio and repeat. My physio did suggest that I stop riding my bike, but it was brand new and I was having a blast logging miles in Grand Teton National Park. Luckily, I ran into a friend who suggested I see someone at Hoback Sports for a Retul Bike Fitting appointment. My initial reaction was that it sounded silly and I didn’t want to spend hours getting my bike fit while I could be out riding my bike. I also didn’t think it would really make a difference.
Your bike should fit like your ski boots. I would never even consider skiing a brand new pair of ski boots without first making an appointment with my boot fitter. I soon learned that the same rationale should be applied to my road bike. And the process was very cool!
I met Pat Sullivan on an early Saturday morning. I have to admit that I was still dubious and would have rather been out on the road in the sunshine. First thing Pat did was find out as much about me as possible. He started from my feet, your foundation for your body, and worked all the way up to head.
He measured my plumb line, the angle of my pelvis, and my flexibility.
Once he had all of his measurements, he inputted them into the Retul System. And then the fun began. The next step was to connect me to the computer. Pat attached sensors to all of my joints that are affected while cycling.
And then it was time to ride. Pat instructed to find a moderate pace and keep pedaling. As I pedaled, the system was able to indicate where my pain points occurred. The system went from my feet to finger to my neck. Pat was able to make adjustments along the way. Each adjustment made the ride just a tiny bit more comfortable.
Most of my pain points were in my neck causing a pinched nerve. Pat was able to adjust the angle of my handlebars to alleviate the pain.
As Pat made each adjustment, my bike became more and more comfortable. It was amazing. By the end of the experience, my bike was as comfortable as my ski boots and I was ready to hit the road.
Some of us have to learn the hard way. I spent the summer fighting a pinched nerve when I could’ve spent an hour with Pat and saved a lot of time and money. What have I learned from my experience?
I want to give a huge thank you to Pat Sullivan and the Hoback Sports crew for getting me back on the road pain-free!