For quite some time now, during long rides I've been experiencing significant cramping in my left calf. I'm also very aware that my left leg isn't doing as much work as my right and that I have a rather choppy pedaling style which makes riding rollers somewhat challenging.
Last year I visited John Hine in Geelong for a day to have a bike fit for all 3 of my bikes and have been very happy with the result but still have had the cramping issues. I've done all the usual..hydrated, checked electrolytes etcetc. But still I'm cramping and only in the left calf.
The last port of call was therefore to bite the $$ bullet and get up to Sydney to see Steve of PedalPushers, who has had rave reviews from quite a few of my Sydney friends. Steve has been a Cyclingnews guru for some time, although with its new look I now can't find his input..if indeed it's still there. (I agree the old look was, well, old, but the new one is worse and looks very like "Bike Radar" to me..same web designer I guess).
I took my track bike with me since I can deal with cramps more easily on a road bike. I also felt that since my bike fit was to my mind okay across all 3 bikes, if I could get it right on the track bike I'd be fine on the others. When making the appointment I was so convinced I didn't need a full bike fit I queried whether I really needed a full session.
The day dawned VERY early..up at 0330, leave the house by 0430 etc etc. I arrived at Steve's shop with plenty of time to put the bike together at a leisurely pace before Steve got to work on me.
Before getting on the bike there was a subjective and objective exam, where Steve found out I was very healthy with no injuries and no significant previous medical problems. He also discovered, as I already knew that my posture was crap, rotated, asymmetrical (caused in part by a leg length discrepancy on the right) and that I was succumbing to the forces of gravity..ie slumping...nothing new to me there.
He also questioned my choice of 170 cranks, given my lack of height...until he saw the length of my feet! inside leg length being added to rather mightily by a size 41.5 foot. Steve also pointed out to me that one of my pairs of shoes were not really appropriate for me as they put my foot into plantarflexion too much and so were really not for endurance riders.
The groan he must have felt when seeing me standing was silenced on the bike when he found that the picture there was much, much more balanced. The end result was that the minor problems with asymmetry on the bike were fixed with cleat position changes plus a wedge and a few shims.
The bike fit itself needed no alteration except to bring the aerobar extensions closer in to each other. My one claim to fame in Steve's world is that in 20 years of bike fitting I'm the only person he's not had to make any alteration to the bike. I need to thank John Hine for that..actually as I mentioned before, I already knew it was right(!).
As I rode for 10 minutes after all the changes, the change from choppy to smooth pedaling style was noticeable.
One other thing I found out about is these shoes which Steve was wearing. He said I might find I was able to improve my posture wearing a pair, especially at work where I'm on my feet most of the time. Yesterday I took the plunge and bought a pair, they look VERY ordinary and plain and as a result with my Minnie Mouse feet, VERY long. And they are weird to walk in...when I was walking in the shop I reeled and last night I'm not sure whether it was the wine or the shoes..or a bit of both that made me less than balanced! Also I cramped really badly during the night. I'll have to wait a while to see if this was an expensive mistake or a posture saviour!
Tomorrow's TT will be an early test to let me know if the shoe alterations/cleats/wedges are effective, although a different course and what looks like being a windy day will make comparisons with the race a month ago hard to make.
We'll see what we'll see.