Phil's Blog - December 2010
Thunderbird Five, Marmotte and all boats lift on a rising tide
Since October 'training' has meant teaching, teaching has meant Milton Keynes and that has meant an Alan Partridge type life at The Holiday Inn Express. Which itself is Shangrila compared to DeVere in Newport Pagnell, where we ran the first two courses of the Autumn term. I do seem have an in-built resistance to faceless conference centres with shell-suit graphic carpets. In much the same way that some people have a phobia about being buried alive or being eaten by spiders.
I am currently CycleFit's John from Thunderbird 5 - Jeff Tracey's, space-confined, lonely and patently less favoured son.
So after six weeks of conference-centre food, no training and re-cycled Milton Keynes air, Jules decides to drop in our mission impossible (should we decide to accept it) for 2011. Yes 'The Marmotte'. A race so difficult that it makes Etape du Tour appear lacking ambition.
Not only that but Jules has a notion that we may do a couple of triathlons as a warm-up?
I am speechless. And that of course means defenseless. I will need to find my voice to resist this madness I will come back to this later.
So far this year we have trained about a hundred Trek Dealers for Trek Fit Services and about fifty students through The SICI School in London. Most of the SICI students so far have been physios, osteos, coaches…etc and all the Trek dealers are, err, Trek Dealers. All students accept the principle that individual variability should be at the heart of any fitting process and session. This is all quite a trip for me and Jules who were banging a lonely drum nine years ago when our obsession with cycle-fitting became CycleFit. The accusations at the time of quackery seemed unfair precisely because we were trying to replace 'trial and error' and heresay with a system that was both scientific in its approach and repeatable. It took a while but people slowly started bringing us their bikes and bodies to see if we could help build a better relationship. Thousands of fitting sessions later and thankfully they still are. The physical therapy community were early adopters and believers and it is to people like Graham Anderson at Balance that we owed our survival of those initial lean months. So it is now no surprise now that the phsyios, chiros and osteos are now such diligent students. Generally rubbish and dangerous with spanner or wrench in their hand but hey ho.
But what is such a pleasant shock is how keen all the Trek Shops are for education and enlightenment. Out of a hundred or so students who have come through the programme only one has rebelled to the point of excluding themselves from the course. It was both a disappointment but also a relief to see him walk off with his odd socks and even odder demeanour. I won't disclose the shop because that wouldn't be fair but I pity the folk that buy their bikes there. Expect some good old fashioned trial and error and peering through the tops of bars to see if you can see the front hub or not. Also expect the bike to be hitched up underneath your nether-regions by the sales staff to make absolutely sure it is a good fit.
Me and Jez Loftus (from Trek UK) started to run together a little around Willen Lake close to our Hotel in Milk And Beans. We were doing pretty well until the USA Course Director Matt Groose came out with us one morning. He chuckled as we puffed around a lap and then he strode off to do another four while me Jez limpled back to HQ for a crap breakfast. Jez is probably the only man I know with worse biomechanics than me. He has a foot-flare that makes Charlie Chaplin look well aligned.
Who am I to talk? I recently had a session with Fabulous Fran and Mick (podiatrist) from Balance . After a few minutes being video'd on their running machine I was getting very little feedback. All I could here was a low-level wheezing and squeeking? I couldn't really look around because my running balance is not so good, so I just kept plodding on. "Anyone there"? I gently enquired. But the squeeking just got worse. After a bit longer I convinced myself that they had pissed off and left me lumbering along as a joke. As I stopped the machine and looked around I saw Fran and Mick with their fists stuffed in their mouths. Both also puce and in tears from stifling their giggling. The cause of their mirth was spooling endlessly on their screen. Me filmed from behind - clumsy gait, oversized calves and strangely mincing shuffle. Fran tried (and failed) to recover some professional composure. Mick walked off leaving "sorry mate" hanging behind him. We all caught the meaning. Not sorry for laughing but sorry for my bollixed biomechanics.
So now back to those triathlons. There are two hopes and one of them is called Bob.
A couple of the courses have asked why Jules and I are intent on training the competition to compete with ourselves?
We have always seen this the other way around. We think that raising the level of the industries professionalism must intrinsically be a good thing and that will result in all boats lifting on a rising tide of improvement? Plus the whole industry and customers will benefit from a dynamic and diverse 'fit' community all working and sharing their experiences. Or are we naive and idealistic? Oh I do hope so