I've been riding my bicycle a fair bit in past months, and I've been having some comfort problems. The first hour is fine, the second hour elbows hurt and my feet and hands fall asleep (and my butt hurts). The third and fourth hours are more and the same.

I'm planning on doing a metric century (100 KM) in September, which will put me on the bike for 6-7 hours, so I needed to address the comfort issue. I made an appointment with Erik Moen, a physical therapist who works at Seattle's Pro Sports Club (many Microsoft people belong to the Bellevue Pro Sports Club). He came highly recommended as "the great guy" by a friend I have who rides seriously.

So, Tuesday morning I drove into Seattle, and wheeled my bike in for the fit. The nice thing about going to a physical therapist for a bike fit is that he can consider modifications to either the bike or to the body. My expectation was that I would be shopping for a new bike when I was done, or at least some new components. Another big advantage is that it's considered a physical therapy visit, so I didn't have to pay for the session. Ka-Ching!

The session starts with the usual medical history questions, and then a questionaire about my bike-riding tendencies. Except for marking "spinner" instead of "cruiser", I'm pretty much on the lightweight side of all the questions. My session with Erik then began.

Erik is a really nice guy, and he started by doing an evaluation of my body mechanics and flexibility. That took about 15 minutes. We then went to one of the studios and put my bike on a trainer for measurements. This starts with static measurements of the bike (seat highet, difference between bar and saddle height, reach to brake hoods, stem length, seat setback, and crank length). While he did this I watched and generally got in the way.

Next are the rider on bike measurements, which include the trunk angle (37 degrees), distance between elbows and knee, knee angles, and a few others I've forgot). My seat was too far tipped forward (moved it back one notch), and my bars were too low (raised them 1cm and tilted them back). Saddle height was good, as we my cleat placement.

We then worked on position, to see if I could get the handlebar inline with the stem. He adjusted me on the bike to the position he thought I should be in, and found that overall, things were set up pretty well for me.

The problem was that I wasn't actually in that position, due to some inflexibility in my hamstrings and back (there's a note about a "probable ham challenge" on my fit sheet, but I don't think that's about lunch).

His prescription:

1) New shoes to replace my very old Shimano ones

2) Stick with SPD cleats, as they're more practical for my use

3) Insoles (superfeet or biosoft inserts) to make my feet happier

4) A number of trunk and hamstring stretching exercises to stretch my legs and cure me of the "software slouch".

5) A recheck in October

Overall, a very worthwhile hour. Interesting that the bike setup is fine, it's the rider setup that needs some work. I knew I had crappy hamstring flexibility (too much soccer, not enough stretching), but the back part is a new one. I'm going to ask my group to tell me to "sit up straight" if they see me slouching.

I was going to ride this morning but felt to sick, but I'm hoping to get in a few miles tonight. I'll post again with my impressions of the adjustments.