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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Rain Capes and Bike Fitting

05/08/12 243# 0m
Heavy rain in Pittsburgh today, which combines with today's Yehuda Moon in a manner that requires a rain cape update.

I really like my Carradice Pro-Route rain cape. I only use it a few times a year, when I expect continuous rain, high humidity, and high temps - which for me are the conditions when a rain cape is most useful. It's got major Fred-factor going on, and it can be interesting in a strong crosswind.

CleverHood is a Providence, RI company that makes a rain cape of the same name with some very clever design features, most notably magnetic-sealed arm vents that allow your arms to protrude through the front of the cape. Thumb looks, waist loop, they've got it all going on for a bicycle rain cape except for their low-visibility, almost camoflage colorway.

Via Mr. Robert Clark comes a Rivendell rain cape, the Grunden Bike Poncho. Rivendell had these designed by an outfitter of Swedish fishermen, and manufactured in Portugal. This seems like the perfect product, with high-viz, at a more reasonable price.

Spent a few hours today in a bike fitting session at UPMC SouthSide with Matt Tinkey, who is a certified (and experienced) athletic trainer. Matt has experience as a rider, a racer, and a bike mechanic so he comes to the session with a well-rounded perspective.

My friend S. had a bike-fit with Matt a few weeks ago and had a very positive report, and online both Matt and the UPMC bike-fit program have a very good reputation. As time for my appointment was approaching, Matt came out with his previous bike-fit client, Janie of Grupetto Pittsburgh which was a pleasant surprise.

My session started with a discussion of my goals for the fitting and in my riding, a review of my medical history, bike injuries, and current status. It was unhurried and quite thorough. My goal was to get the cleat positions adjusted on two pair of shoes, and to see if my seat needed to be tweaked.

Matt really knows bikes as well as kinesiology. He looked my bike over and grasped what was novel and what was routine in the equipment. He advised me about a new brake mechanism that's coming out that I might want to look in to. In many ways, it was a visit with a bike expert that had nothing to sell me.

Matt changed the cleat alignment on both shoes, and added ITS Wedge inserts into my MTB shoes. After that we put the bike on a trainer and he watched me pedal for a while, took some measurements, and changed my seat in a few different ways - changed the alignment with the frame, the height, moved the nose a bit higher, moved the seat a bit forward - they were all small changes but the bike felt much better afterward.

Back to the pedals and Matt installed some spacers to move both pedals a bit further out from the frame and that felt good, too. (Apparently I have a wide stance.)

The handlebars were in a pretty good position but Matt adjusted the brake hoods to a more ergonomic position. When we were done, he had moved the cleats, the pedals, the seat in a few dimensions, and the hoods - and although I was very pleased with the bike coming in to today's session, it felt much better after today's session.

I'm going to go back in a month, wearing a new pair of MTB shoes - Matt pointed out that the sole was compromised on the old pair I've been nursing - for a followup.

I thought this was a very worthwhile session, much more thorough and professional than any bike shop is equipped or trained to do, and well worth the time. Highly recommended. (Discount for BikePgh members!) If you're interested, you can reach the UPMC bike fit shop via tinkeyml@upmc.edu.

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