July 19, 2016
This post is a personal version of my article which featured on the Evans website.
Since starting this process I’ve contacted loads of different cycling businesses and organisations to try obtain whatever help I can for my ride. You generally find that, with so many requests for help, most politely refuse. It’s all about getting in touch with the right people and that’s something that happened when i spoke to Magdalena (Mags) from Evans cycles.
Having already contacted – and been refused by – Evans Cycles multiple times, I was delighted when Mags sent me a message saying how she might be able to help. I originally asked for a maintenance course, but she was also kind enough to sort me a bike fit out too, something that I needed since getting a new bike.
I need to say a massive thanks to Evans Cycles and especially Mags, she has been one of the most helpful people from any business since I started 8 months ago.
The Bike Fit
I had already had a bike fit when I first started training on my first bike. It’s basically to ensure that your body is correctly positioned on the bike to prevent injury and also to increase performance.
Having gone through various injuries, especially with my back, I can’t emphasise how important a good bike fit is. If you’re riding an hour or two you might not notice, but when you start doing 4, 5 or 8 hours you will really feel the effects of a bad bike fit.
I already knew what to expect but nethertheless I was excited about getting my new bike perfected, I had been having a few slight aches at 6+ hours in my shoulder and I was interested to hear if I could squeeze any more power out with a new position.
My bike-fitter was Hannah, she was a really nice girl and after telling her all about my ride she also told me about her cycling life and it was clear that she was very passionate about it. We started by videoing me with my current set-up and Hannah re-played it to me in slow motion, highlighting various issues along the way. I knew that my bike wasn’t going to be too far out as I have been tweaking it for a few months, the main things were the saddle height and handlebar position. After adjusting these I jumped back on the bike and had another look at the slow motion video. Whilst you don’t magically feel better on the bike – as obviously you have to try it on the road – you do feel the difference in position immediately. Like anything it might feel a little awkward at first, but having trusted many ‘cycle people’ in the last 8 months, I have never been let down.
I should also add that Hannah had a look at my cleat positioning – slightly to my embarrassment as my shoes stank, she said she was used to it – and also answered dozens of my novice questions, she was very helpful indeed. After saying my goodbyes I set out on a 100 mile hilly route which includes one of the biggest climbs in the areas, Winnats Pass.
After a few hours I could really feel a noticeable difference in the amount of power I was applying to the pedals. I definitely felt stronger on a seated climb and I noticed I was staying in the saddle for longer on the steeper sections. I was also pushing a fast-than-normal average speed on the flats.
I completed the ride with a decent average and feeling good, there was also less aching in my shoulders. I can’t really ask for more than that, the two things I wanted, I got! Thanks to Deansgate Evans Cycles and Hannah!
The maintenance course
This is something I have been thinking about for a while. I have been quite lucky with bike issues as both my bikes have been brand new. However when problems do arise it’s incredibly frustrating as, although they seem simple to fix, things can quite quickly go wrong! I remember I tried to sort my gearing on my first bike and before I knew it I had completely Fu*&%d it, I had to take it into the shop. Obviously in America I need to know how to fix things when they go wrong, I don’t think there are many Evans Cycles shops on the Rocky Mountains.
For my class I went to Macclesfield Evans to meet the manager of the store, Ted. He had shut the shop and stayed late just for me, it was very kind of him. He asked about my ride and basically said he would show me whatever I wanted to know.
I wasn’t after a degree in bike maintenance, but just wanted to know enough to help me get by in America (I also videoed the whole session, thanks Jordan, so that I can refer back should I need to). The main things were chains, spokes, cables and gears. Ted was a great teacher and he went though each component explaining what is likely to go wrong, how I might prevent it and, most importantly, how to fix it.
Bike maintenance is one of those things that is quite straightforward, but only when you know the basics. Everyone knows they’re run via cables, chains and gears but until you understand a bit more about how they function, they seem quite daunting to fix.
Ted made things look really easy and I imagine it will take some practice to repair things as smoothly as he did – I should probably add that i went home and spent two hours getting tyres on my new wheels – but I left the session feeling a much more complete cyclist, I definitely feel more confident about fixing things.
In addition to showing me everything Ted was also great at answering any questions I might have and he me gave solid concise answers. Thanks a lot to Macclesfield Evans and the very resourceful Ted!
Leaving the maintenance session I really started to feel how close the ride is approaching. There are only ten weeks left and I’m really starting to feel the pressure both on and off the road. Thankfully there are businesses, organisations and lovely people helping me out before I go and Evans Cycles and their staff are amongst those!
Thanks very much Evans Cycles, especially Hannah, Ted and Mags!