The culprit to the nagging hamstring and knee injury of Lori Antolec was an unexpected discovery. Can a bike fit be the answer to injury? Sometimes, yes!
I ended my 2016 mountain bike season on a high note. I competed in the Steamboat Stinger as part of a duo-team with my rockstar teammate Amanda who decked us out in bee costumes!
A few weeks later I finished my first ever 50mile race, the Dakota Five-0.
Between those two races, I signed up for the Breck Epic 3-day. It has been on my bucket list for many years and I was happy with the base I had built up, so sign up I did! The plan was to ride my fat bike during the winter to ensure I would be set for the BreckEpic.
Unfortunately, my body had a different plan – my hamstring and knee fell apart in January. I took days off. I rode different bikes but the debilitating pain would not go away. I started PT and increased the cadence of my massage and chiropractic appointments. I continued PT for 6-8 weeks with minimal improvement. I scheduled an appointment with a traditional doctor to confirm I had not caused significant damage that required more attention than the PT I was receiving. He sent me home with similar exercises to my PT regimen.
I was lost on how to solve this issue until discussing it with a coworker who suggested a thorough bio-mechanic bike fit. I had been riding this bike for three seasons but, at this point, was willing to try anything. I was amazed at the amount of information I learned during the fit but the most important piece of information was…I was riding on the wrong saddle size! I was riding on a stock 143 and should be on a wider 155 to properly support my sit bones. On the narrower saddle, I was only supported by soft tissue which causes rocking and numerous other compensations. I drove straight to the bike shop to buy a new saddle.
Wow, what a difference! The proper saddle size provided a more solid foundation and the improvement of power transfer was noticeable with the first pedal stroke. I could not wait to get out and ride. I was able to increase my riding duration and miles for the first time in 5 months. Although I saw immediate improvement, my knee and hamstring are taking longer to return to 100%. I was not able to participate in the BreckEpic 3-day as planned, but I’m on the path to recovery which will allow me to participate in the future!
Saddle size – do not underestimate it! You don’t need to schedule a bike fit to confirm what size is right for you (although I highly recommend it). Most shops have an ‘ass-o-meter’ that will guide you on the correct size. And don’t forget saddles wear out and periodically need to be replaced just like other parts on the bike. I was lucky until this year that I never gave much thought to saddles as I didn’t have any issues with the saddle that came with my bikes. I hope sharing this info prevents at least one person from learning the hard way, like I did.
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BASIC BIKE FIT
Cleat fore/aft and rotational adjustments.
Correct saddle height ,fore/aft adjustments.
Stem length/angle adjustments.
Handlebar rotation and position.
Suggest solutions to improve your fit and overall cycling experience.