Summer is just around the corner and I’m sure many of you will be planning a long ride, whether that be the iconic Vätternrundan, the epic Ironman Kalmar, the brand-new (and what promises to be beautiful) Swede Divide or just a fun 50km with some friends! Whatever the challenge, here are 6 bike positioning mistakes to avoid:
1. Lack of specific training. It won’t be a surprise to many of you to hear that in order to do a long ride (and enjoy it) you need to spend plenty of hours in the saddle beforehand to build your aerobic fitness. However, you need to make sure that those hours in the saddle are well-spent and specific to the event that you are looking to complete. For example, if you are looking to complete Ironman Kalmar on a tempo bike, hours spent on your gravel or MTB is not going to be the best preparation. Although you may build the aerobic fitness you will require for the Ironman, your body will not be used to riding in the tempo position which engages and uses muscles very differently to the more upright positions that are adopted on road, gravel and MTB bikes.
2. Last minute Bike Fit. We often get requests from cyclists / triathletes for a Bike Fit just weeks before their big event. Unless absolutely necessary we definitely would not advocate this. A Bike Fit can in some cases lead to quite big changes in the bike position. These changes can often take a little while for your body to adapt to and we would often recommend easing yourself in with some lighter sessions.
3. Not testing new equipment. It is always tempting to try out that new piece of equipment (particularly when it has promised to make you faster) as soon as it arrives but if that is just before your long ride / big event we would strongly recommend that you don’t give in to that temptation. A new saddle, new aero bars or even a new helmet can all have a profound impact upon your performance or comfort, and not always in a good way! So, make sure that you test out your new equipment, preferably all together, before the big day!
4. Getting too aggressive, too fast. Even if your long ride / big event is just a ride with friends, competitiveness can take over and with that a desire to make your bike as aggressive as possible! This is never a good idea. As with any change to your bike position it can take a while to get used to but even more so when you are trying to make things more aggressive. The more aggressive a position, the more core engagement and flexibility often required. It can take a long time to build this and if you don’t have it then you are unlikely to be able to hold your new position throughout the duration of your long ride. This may lead to you having to take more regular breaks than planned or to sit in a more upright position (i.e., hold the base bar as opposed to the tempo sticks). It is often better for longer events to opt for some middle ground, riding comfortably often means getting to the end faster!
5. Poor bike choice. Poor bike choice links back to the above point we made regarding trying to ride a position that is too aggressive. We all know that aero frames look super cool. Even their name insinuates that they will be faster, but this is not always the case. The saddle to bar drop on aero frames is often much greater than that for endurance frames (again this requires higher levels of core engagement and flexibility). Hence, you may actually complete your long ride faster and in less discomfort on an endurance as opposed to aero road frame.
6. Not fuelling correctly. You may be wondering how nutrition and fuelling links to Bike Fit but we often get asked about where to mount hydration systems and bento boxes in order to optimise aerodynamics. However, aerodynamics is not everything! When riding longer events many cyclists / triathletes mount their drinks behind their saddle or store their gels in their jersey pockets. This is great for aerodynamics but for some, with less flexibility, the drinks / gels may not be accessible – the rider may not be able to reach! If this is something you struggle with you may want to think of mounting your hydration system between your handlebars and bento box on your top tube. Alternatively, you could try out the below exercises to improve shoulder flexibility*.
Kneeling thoracic rotation
Shoulder external rotation
Shoulder internal rotation
Avoid these common mistakes and make your next challenge all that more enjoyable! You never know next year you may want to take on a new (and even longer) event 😉
*Please note you should seek the advice of a medical professional before undertaking any new training regime. As such PFP Sweden disclaims any liability for incidental or consequential damages, and assumes no liability or responsibility for any loss, injury or damage suffered by any person as a result of the use or misuse of any information / videos above.
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