Integrative Bicycle Fitting
Orthodox or conventional bicycle fitting looks at a rider as a biomechanical machine, understanding the athlete as a system of levers that drives power to pedals. When the relationship of these levers is optimized, the rider will perform to their potential.
If a rider is having pain or challenge from cycling, the simplest biomechanical model finds solutions in the relationships of contact points: saddle height, bar drop, saddle offset from the bottom bracket. As this model becomes more nuanced, it explores more subtle relationships such as cleat wedging, footbeds, and saddle nose angle.
While there are instances when a challenge an athlete is experiencing will be resolved by application of a solely biomechanical solution, this is not very often the case. Why?
Humans are far more than metronomic engines that power a bicycle up a mountain or over a distance. We are infinitely complex biological, psyche driven organisms that exist in relation to our environment.
By attempting to solve all problems with only biomechanical tools, we are limiting the choices we have to bring the athlete into a higher state of health. In order to truly optimize athletic potential, we need to widen the lens to include the entire organism, which includes musclo-skeletal and muscle length tension relationships [throughout the entire body, not only the lower limbs, hips and lower back], fascial health, viscero-somatic reflexes, breathing patterns, total physiological load, diet and hydration, and ultimately how the dream, goal or objective aligns daily life choices. This means having an understanding of how the psyche influences our lives.
The psyche manifests the physical expression of our being-ness through billions of biochemical reactions per second, charged by electrical energy that is the life force of the soul [ which can be thought of simply as “pure potential”]. Ultimately, the psyche drives all choices and behaviors. Our psyche is formed in the cauldron of life which includes individuation from our parents [the first 7 -14 years of life], as well as our experiences, traumas, cultural, familial, and social influences.
The expression of your psyche will dictate your posture on the bike, whether you are an attaquer, a rouler, or a grimpeur. It will also dictate how aero you are, what your digestion is like, your temperament, and whether you have chronic knee pain or arthritis at a young age. It will dictate why you forget to eat on the bike or why you keep crashing [or getting crashed by others], or why your head is filled with self doubt when you roll up to the start line or are deep in the pain cave on a long climb.
In order to truly move the dial on athletic performance and achieve excellence in sport, there is one single rule that is the most important principle any athlete can and must follow:
For an athlete to truly know themselves is to understand their drivers, their limits, their strengths, and how these have come to influence and authorize the outcome of their relationship with sport.
Cycling is a battleground which will test you on every level, if you go far enough. It will break you down to your nucleus and make you build yourself back up again. It can provide the landscape for your own Hero’s Journey.
Integrative Bicycle Fitting looks beyond the biomechanical model, and involves:
- teaching rather than doing
- learning over immediate results, although immediate results are integral to the process
- big picture concepts as well as practical application and actionable insights
- consideration and attentive action
- natural law
- not old school, not new school…..all school
As we work towards an Integrative Bicycle Fitting model, we do not disregard or negate the biomechanical perspective, it is integrated and included in our work. Biomechanics are part of the outcome of our intent and energy in sport. Just as when a person evolves to a new level of personal development, the previous levels are integrated, biomechanics are a fundamental component of our relationship to the beautiful mechanical device that is the bicycle.
“My bike fitting session with Colby was a positive experience which was possibly the greatest single investment I’ve made in my decades of athletic adventures. I’m more comfortable and efficient on the bicycle; I have increased total body awareness and greater understanding of how my body interacts with the bike. The benefits of working with Colby have been profound both on and off the bike. My only regret is not seeing Colby sooner.”
Hourly Fitting Work
As an alternative to a full Integrative Bicycle Fitting, it is possible to book work on an hourly basis. This is the best option for athletes who wish to target specific issues, for example:
- refinement of foot / shoe interface, cleat position, footbeds
- transfer of position to a new bicycle
- transfer or translation of position from one type of bike to another [road to gravel, for example]
- refinement of saddle choice
- a tune up of prior fit work
- targeting a specific injury, sensation, challenge or discomfort experienced while riding
The price for Hourly Fitting Work is $200/hr and it is normally booked in two hour increments. The client only pays for the time that is used and billing occurs in 15 minute increments.
Conceptualizing the Integrative Bicycle Fit model can be assisted by understanding more about Paul Chek’s Totem Pole:
This image represents a hierarchal map of how the nervous system will prioritize aspects of the body in context of survival. That is, anything higher on the totem pole will take precedence over anything below it in a moment of perceived threat or stress.
For example, if someone is challenged to breathe, the biological systems below breathing on the map will be compromised in order to attempt to optimize breathing. This is intuitive if you think about it for a moment; the priority of the life force that inhabits your “biological space suit” is to continue to live, and there are mechanisms in place to ensure this happens as efficiently as possible. This is an adaptation strategy and all life forms have them by definition.
Notice that the “slave joints” [everything from the hip bones to the feet, including the spine] are at the bottom of the pole. This is the domain of the standard bike fitting [and coaching] model; the understanding is that all biomechanical problems are caused and solved by biomechanical methods or solutions. This is not incorrect, however this understanding is far from complete.
The “mother” or root of a challenge [often in the form of an injury, but not necessarily] is frequently much higher on the totem pole than area of the slave joints.
To hear Paul give an excellent explanation of the Totem Pole, watch the video he has posted on this page [9 minutes long]:
STEVE HOGG CERTIFIED
In February 2012, I flew to Sydney Australia to be mentored by Steve Hogg as a bike fitter. For a month, my exclusive purpose was to live and breathe bike fitting as I trained with Steve on a daily basis. I absorbed as much information and experience as possible from Steve during this time. The apprenticeship was invaluable and now I am fitting riders using Steve’s philosophies as a basis for my methods.
The apprenticeship is undertaken on a pass/fail basis and culminates with the student demonstrating his abilities to Steve’s satisfaction in a complete fit from start to finish, on a live client. Steve is without a doubt one of the best bike fitters in the world. His methods are unconventional by some standards, but they have been refined over years of trial and error with thousands of clients. Steve has taken the time to research alternative methods of bike fitting, human physiology, functional anatomy, and neuroscience to connect the dots that most fitters have not explored. His fitting methods do not use a “fit system” or pre-generated formulas, but instead rely on detailed physical assessment of the athlete in combination with precise cues from the structure of the rider. His basis for fitting is founded on establishing clear proprioceptive communication throughout the body, notably between the feet and the shoes. The end result is optimal position for the athlete based on their individual needs, cycling goals, and abilities.
For more information about Steve Hogg’s fitting services or methods: