Tom Smith - slipped through the net
Tom Staniford said to me that his friend Tom Smith was having a bit of trouble on his bike. Tom Smith sent me a three page document catalogueing his injuries, crashes and operations.
But it was the X-rays that made me swallow hard and Dirty Harry's words of wisdom in Magnum Force came to mind.
Bike fitters are often confronted with quite complex physical and psychological conditions but they - and I - only have a limited range of options to resolve and improve the situation: namely saddle choice, height and set-back, handlebar and cleat position and a multitude of variables with the shoes and I guess there is also technique, posture, and training…more than I thought.
It is important to stick to the process though, a bike fitter can't fix everything in a two hour appointment with an allen key and a wedge and it's wrong to suggest that we could.
But positioning the saddle, handlebars and cleats in the right position accompanied with words of encouragement and guidance can make all the difference to an individual. Sometimes it can be very simple sometimes it is not and back-up is required from our professional colleagues who may be able to add to the prescription.
Tom Smith had quite a lot of discomfort on the bike and to simplify the situation which is something I always try and do not being a bio-mechanist or doctor (sorry mum) his bike set-up was incorrect and his body was not working effectively within his physical and the bike's limitations.
The saddle was too low so he was heel driving, his feet were unstable and his posture was incorrect. There you go.
Then throw in a very tilted pelvis and a handfull of mechano drilled in to his now fused vertebrae and you have a recipe, not for disaster but six years and miles and miles of uncomfortable self diagnosis, angst and self-doubt.
I addressed all of the above as much as I could and changed Tom's riding position and worked on his posture and his pedalling technique to stabilise his upper body and produce a stronger and effective power stroke. I did not do anything fancy I followed Cyclefit's methodical process…with Tom though it turned in to a longer than standard appointment!
A lot of Tom's issues though can be attributed to the series of crashes, operations and failed rehabilitation he has experienced in his early years. He was the proverbial promising junior only to have his cycling future taken away by a badly driven car that damaged his pelvis. He got better and got back on his bike and then got damaged again.
Work in progress…
Unfortunately for many of the UK''s younger riders who represent their country and for those who may in the future there is no safety net to catch them and make sure they ride their bikes as they should; and if they do get damaged - which is quite inevitable with our sport - there is nobody in officialdom to put them back on their bikes again and steer them in the right direction. No smoke and mirrors need be involved and no visits to gurus; all they may need is a two hour bike fitting assessment to ensure they are ridng and pedalling effectively and safely.
I wish we had seen Tom six years ago but I am confident Tom will get back on his bike again and be competitive; of that I am sure.
Next week Tom gets a onceover by Graham from Balance Physio to see how we can improve his rehab and review his riding position.