Lizzie Armitstead has pedalled her way to numerous podium placements, wins and a fair share of British National titles.
BODY GEOMETRY FIT HELPS LIZZIE ARMISTEAD TAKE THE LEAD…AND KEEP IT.
In her performance at the 2015 British Road Cycling Championships this past June, she all but dropped the competition, climbing to victory alone, over rough cobblestone streets, to take the title. You could say she made it look easy. But the truth is, racing bikes is incredibly hard—and hard on the body—even for racers who don’t come near the podium. For Armitstead, hip pain made racing incredibly difficult—especially on her TT bike—until a new Body Geometry Fit adjustment with Body Geometry Fit Technician Scott Holz took the pressure off her body, and put it squarely back on the pedals, where it belongs.
We asked Lizzie to describe some of the considerations leading up to and resulting from getting her Body Geometry Fit with Holz.
What was the main goal of your fitting session at the team camp this year?
I was having problems in my time trial position and I wanted to try and work out how to improve that without compromising my aerodynamics. I have had problems in the past with numbness in my left leg. We worked out that by putting a spacer in between my pedals and crank it alleviated the pain.
At the beginning of the winter training season you were having issues with your time trial position. Could you elaborate on that?
When in the time trial position I would start to have numbness in my left leg and a tightness and pain in my hip.
People do not usually associate the time trial with being comfortable on your bike, however what you were experiencing was far more than merely being uncomfortable. How was it affecting your cycling performance?
I have never enjoyed time trialling simply because it is so uncomfortable. The pain would cause me to avoid training on the TT bike; it took too much time to recover from the pain and therefore interrupted my training schedule.
The changes that Scott made to your stance with at your pedals are only a few millimetres. Were you surprised that such a small change could make a big difference?
It’s incredible that a small change can change your feeling on the bike so dramatically—and so instantaneously. It really shows that your proper set up comes down to millimetres.
Fit specialists perform a physical assessment and an interview with each rider before making changes to their position on the bike. Do you recall what elements of your physical assessment gave your fit technician the clues to solve your hip issues?
I have a slightly bowed tibia on my left leg, which affects power transfer to the pedals. My left leg is also slightly shorter, which is a problem requiring a shim.
Did the changes that Scott made to your time trial bike transfer over to your road bike and your daily set up?
Initially, yes, but I didn’t like the change on my road bike so I changed it back. I was able to ride pain-free on my road bike and didn’t feel the need to tamper with my position.
As a professional cyclist who spends hours in the saddle, how important is it that riders find the right saddle shape and width for their unique anatomy?
Being able to consistently train is the secret to success. Unless you are comfortable and not causing damage to yourself from your saddle you can’t do this. Instead of spending a lot of time and money trying different saddles, the Body Geometry system finds it straight away for you.
The cycling tradition glorifies suffering, but it seems like that suffering should be from being pushed to your limits rather than caused by your equipment. Would you say your equipment and your position makes your job easier and allows you to go harder?
Knowing that I am on the best equipment in the world gives me confidence that the pain I go through in training is worth it. I’m not compromised by equipment that under performs. The difference between my current and previous equipment is measurable.
Do you find that your position changes at all over the season based on your fitness or your goals?
No, I would never do change position mid-season. I spend hours riding, working to find the perfect position and can feel even when it is just a few millimetres off.
You've been riding for so long it might be hard to remember when you started, but do you think bike fitting is important even for the novice rider?
Oh, definitely. I think it’s really important to have a good set up on your first bike. It’s a big investment of money and time, and you should pay the same amount of attention to your riding position as the equipment you buy.
Minor leg length discrepancies and other physiological considerations affect many, if not most riders at some point in their career—whether amateur or pro. No one should have to ride with intense musculoskeletal pain on the bike. Having a professional bike fit which caters to each individual’s unique anatomy, flexibility, and style is a small investment that pays huge returns in terms of comfort, power and ease on the bike for every level of rider.