His reach was too long and I'm not sure if that
frame was the right size. His position was awful. I was embarrassed
for the bike industry. Cannondale, the company who made Larry's
bike, has got to be embarrassed too. Larry Parker went to
all the effort and expense of preparing for Ironman, along
with the added burden of what he'd been through, and a shop
sold him a good bike but didn't bother to size it correctly.
Amazing. Cannondale should call the dealer that sold him that
bike and ask, "What were you guys thinking when you sold
Triathlons are big business now. Everybody is
now an "expert bike fitter" and a "triathlete".
New England Cycling Academy is doing big business selling
"Fit Kits" to anyone with $700 (It costs another
$450 to go to NECA to learn how to use it). Interestingly,
the word "Triathlon" is not even spelled correctly
throughout the Fit Kit manual. I imagine one of these new
"experts" fit Larry Parker to his "triathalon"
bike before Ironman.
Eighteen years ago before triathlons were cool
(or on NBC) I didn't see any of these people that now claim
to be triathlon experts at the races. I saw Lew Kidder, Karen
McKeachie, Dan Empfield, John Cobb and a few people who aren't
around any more. These people are experts. They helped invent
the sport. They helped invent triathlon bike fit. People like
Kidder, Empfield, Cobb, McKeachie, Vroomen contributed to
the sport- they gave something to it.
I imagine this is not all Larry Parker's "bike
fitter's" fault. The guy was just trying to make a living
and triathlons are what is happening right now, so he did
the dance and said, "Yeah, I can fit triathlon bikes,
I do it part time to pay for school!" The problem is
he made a huge mistake fitting Larry to his bike, and I know
it compromised Larry's performance to some degree, although-
hats off to Larry Parker- he had an OK race despite it.
Not many people know how to really size a person
for the correct triathlon bike and then position them on it.
My guess is there are less than a dozen in the U.S. If you
are going to buy a triathlon bike you owe it to yourself to
make sure the person fitting you has as much experience in
the sport as possible. If you are doing Ironman on this bike
they should have done it too. If you are doing Olympic distance
they should have done it too. If you want to win your age
category some day they should have done it too. And, because
just being a decent athlete (or at least a persistent one)
certainly doesn't qualify you to even touch another person's
bike position, they should have gone to school to learn about
bike fit, learned about it from the best fitters and athletes
and coaches in the world. After they did all this, then done
a couple thousand repetitions of fitting athletes for triathlons
they are qualified to tell you what bike you should buy and
how it should be set up.
And if they have these qualifications you should
listen to your bike fitter. It is their responsibility to
be sure you are on the right equipment set up correctly for
you and what you want to do. Good bike fitters do bike fit
for a living, it isn't a part time job, a hobby, a fall-back
or what they are doing until the next thing they are doing.
Learning and re-learning bike fit is tough. You have to travel,
you have to dig for information, you have to ride, train and
race on a lot of different bikes, you have to measure a lot
of cyclists and triathletes, you have to go to school. It's
more than a full time job.
A thousand dollars and up (sometimes way up)
is a lot of money for a bike. Training for Ironman, or any
triathlon, is a significant investment in time. That's worth
remembering when you make the most important buying decision
of all: Who you trust to fit your bike.
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