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The Evolution of Integrated Cycle Fit

-Annie Sirotniak


 
 

Years ago, while working at a regional bike shop in Northern Virginia, I began doing bike fits.  This was 1983, and the method was known as the ďFit Kit,Ē developed by the New England Cycling Academy.  I was fascinatedóyou could make several measurements and use the guidelines given by the Fit Kit to help people get the right bike frame and components.  One could also use the RAD pedals to help align the cleats.  Totally cool!

 

That was 18 years ago. The Fit Kit was the beginning, and Integrated Cycle Fit is what Iíve developed along my journey in the world of cycling, coaching, exercise science, physical therapy, and biomechanics. 

 

The thousands of miles Iíve put in over the years training and racing have helped me understand the demands of cycling.  I began road racing in 1983, mountain bike racing in 1986, and eventually rode on several trade teams and the US National Road team as a USCF Category 1. I know what itís like to push hard, dig deep, and not give up until I cross the finish line.  My cycling resume shows this level of determinationóI finished the 1988 Tour de France Feminin, won two stages at the Ore Ida Womenís Challenge (later known as Hewlett Packard), and won numerous individual and team Collegiate National Championship titles as a member of the University of Coloradoís cycling team.

 

In 1990 I began volunteering as an assistant road coach to my CU teammates, while studying kinesiology and exercise physiology.  A year later I became Womenís Head Coach, and spent seven seasons over the following decade with CU Cycling.  Coaching is an incredible teacher! I learned patience, earned the respect of the team, and most importantly, helped these young, dedicated cyclists focus their training and attitude on their individual and team cycling goals, and we earned several National Collegiate Championships along the way. I was in tune with my teamís challenges, struggles, and performance, and I began to critically evaluate bike fit as one of many components to success.

 

Road cyclist became graduate student, and in 1993 I finished my masterís degree in Physical Therapy from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. This education was challenging, fascinating, and highly and relevant for meóPTís study the dynamic interplay of form and function of the human body.  This graduate level education gave me the tools to take my to take the analysis of biomechanics, performance, and bike fit to a higher level.

 

For the past eight years, Iíve been treating sports and orthopedic injuries at the University of Colorado Boulderís Wardenburg Sports Medicine Department. Each athlete I evaluate and treat has a unique background, experience, history of injury, and recovery.  Iíve seen firsthand how strength, flexibility, and biomechanics differ among individuals, even if they have the same inseam, torso length, and shoe size.  Iíve learned to modify my bike fits to account for injuries and individual differences in biomechanics, structure, and function.

 

Iíve synthesized knowledge from many areasómy own experience as a racer and a coach, my work as a PT, and the bike fit tradition.  In the past 18 years Iíve I have learned much about bike fitting from Eddy B. during my two winters living at the US Olympic Training Center, from Boulderís Andy Pruitt, and from Bicycle Fitting Systems in California.  I thank these folks immensely.

 

My method, Integrated Cycle Fit, is the result of my experience.  While standard, well-known measurements and formulas are useful, I see them as only a part of the process.  Iíve learned that differences in experience, flexibility, strength, and history of injury are factors that should be considered in bike fitting.  Itís a dynamic, complex process. Thatís why we spend an hour and a half in an Integrated Cycle Fit, whether youíre a beginning cyclist or a professional.  In addition to getting your bike fit, you learn how to use your body efficiently on the bike, and you learn the stretches and exercises you need to stay healthy, recover from injury, and improve your performance.

 

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