Here’s Why You Can’t Have Performance Without Comfort

We talk with Dr. Andy Pruitt and Larry Meyer about how to make yourself as comfortable as possible on the bike and why that helps, not hurts, performance.

FT EP 282 with Andy Pruitt and Larry Meyer

It was only a few episodes ago that we talked about the importance of both aerodynamics and power in making your bike fast. But during that whole conversation, we left out a third factor that may very well be more important than aerodynamics or power – comfort.  

Often when cyclists think about comfort on the bike, they think about commuter bikes and gel saddles. To perform optimally, some believe that comfort is just a sacrifice we must make, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The most aerodynamic position doesn’t matter if your hands are going numb, your knee is hurting, and you can’t hold the position for more than 15 minutes. Comfort is critical for all cyclists regardless of their level.  

On today’s episode, we talk with Dr. Andy Pruitt who invented the modern medical fit as well as Larry Meyer, DPT, owner of the Build PT and Performance Center. They’ll break down all of the main comfort areas including the saddle, chamois, shoes, pedals, and handlebars. Though each of these areas has unique nuance to consider, ultimately their message is that it all inter-relates. If your hands are going numb while you ride, likely buying thicker gloves isn’t going to help. The problem may very well be with your shoe and cleat position that’s forcing you to put too much weight on your hands. In today’s episode our guests will address many of these lesser obvious pain points to help you to find a more comfortable position. 

Joining our primary guests, we’ll also hear from bike shop owner and fitter Glenn Swan who shares similar perspectives on what does and does not make you more comfortable on the bike. And, we’ll hear from ex-pro turned gravel rider and coach Alex Howes.  
So, sink down in your chair and get comfortable for this one and let’s make you fast! 

Episode Transcript

Rob Pickels  00:04

Hello, and welcome to Fast Talk, your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host Rob Pickels here with Coach Connor. When I say comfort, do you picture an upright cruiser with a gel saddle cover? Or do you think about a valuable way to improve your performance?

Rob Pickels  00:21

It was just a few episodes ago, Episode 276, to be exact, that we discussed the balance of aerodynamics and power for cycling performance. During that episode, we alluded to a third factor to improve your performance maximizing comfort, and today we have an episode dedicated to the topic.

Rob Pickels  00:39

We have two experts Dr. Andy Pruitt, the inventor of the modern medical bike fit and Larry Meyer, owner of build physical therapy and Performance Center in Louisville, Colorado. We’ll address how positioning and touch points contribute to making you faster regardless of your age, ability or discipline. Often this means finding the root cause of discomfort and not using band aid fixes like thicker handlebar tape. We’ll round out our conversation by hearing from fitter Glen Swan and pro rider Alex Howes who raised his mountain road and gravel at the highest level. So understand that comfort is king and let’s make you fast.

Chris Case  01:21

Today’s episode of Fast Talk is brought to you by alter exploration created by me fast talk labs co founder Chris case, alter exploration crafts challenging transformative cycling journeys in some of the world’s most stunning destinations. A mantra is a powerful tool used to focus your mind on a particular goal and create calm during challenging situations. Our mantra transformation begins where comfort ends. This mantra isn’t meant to be intimidating. On the contrary, it shouldn’t be invigorating. For many people. Everyday Life is filled with convenience, monotony, and lack of time spent in nature. Ultra exploration facilitates the exact opposite, challenging, invigorating, life altering experiences in the natural world. alters journeys aren’t so much a vacation as an exploration of you and the destination. At the end of every day, be preoccupied as much by the transformative experience, as by the satisfaction of exhaustion, life altered, learn more about my favorite adventure destinations and start dreaming at Alter

Trevor Connor  02:27

Well, welcome everyone. We got a great crew here to help us with this topic today. This is one I just wanted to give a little bit of a backstory here. So we did an episode not all that long ago that we put up in July this was episode two to 76. I would like to say on aerodynamics. So we are talking about is power more important than aerodynamics. And we’re talking about all the different ways to position on the bike to make it as fast as possible. And rightfully so, Dr. Pruitt here, listen to the episode, and reached out to me and said, you’d never once said the word comfort, and chastised me for that. And it’s an appropriate chastisement because ironically, at the same time, so I went and did the triple bypass. And the triple bypass is this, it took me a little over eight hours to complete this event. The weekend before I went out for a four hour bike ride, and two and a half hours in, I was ready to rip my shoes off my feet were in such pain. So short version, and they actually helped me with this, I had to switch my pedals and I used to have a longer spindle, and the new pedals have a shorter spindle. And that little difference made it incredibly uncomfortable for me. So I went to the triple bypass on this great, nicely cleaned road bike ready for the event, but with these giant mountain bike pedals in my mountain bike shoes, because I knew that was the only way I was going to survive the event. I mean, because of all the walking that you were going to do up the hills. Yes, that too.

Trevor Connor  04:07

So comfort. We don’t talk about it, probably enough, it is really important. And I’m going to throw this over to our guests. But I think the two of you could probably make an argument that it’s not a performance versus comfort thing that you can actually have both And so Dr. Pruitt I’ll throw that to you first they go hand in hand, if you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to perform if you do perform, you’re not gonna perform very long. So comfort and performance, I think are hand in hand. If I think about my career as a medical bike fitter, rarely did they come purely for performance they came because something was keeping them from performing to their perceived abilities. Right? Whether it was hand pain, foot pain, saddle pain, back pain, whatever that was, and they wanted that solved so they could move on and

Dr. Andy Pruitt  05:00

perform better. So I think they go hand in hand.

Trevor Connor  05:02

Any thoughts on this?

Larry Meyer  05:03

Oh, it’s one of those variables that you really can’t quantify, right? So you, as a physical therapist has sent a room with patients and, and I’ll say what hurts. And they’ll tell me, this hurts right here. So they’re not comfortable. And they’ll explain that the lineage of their of their problem and they’ll say, you know, my comfort level got worse or got better, or the same thing, or it’s been acting the same way. And so when it comes to doing a medical bike fit or performance bike fit, I think we’re all striving for Andy, you probably agree with me, we’re striving for that smile.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  05:36

So what you just said, was a medical bike fit or a performance bike fit? Sure. That’s on your menu of services? Yep, it is.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  05:44

Are they different? Do you want to tell me

Larry Meyer  05:47

so every cyclist has needs? They have a normal need? Right? You talk to them about it, you have their subjective information you talked about what do you do? What’s your problems? What’s, what do you want to get better at. And so they have needs. So sometimes the writer is willing to eke out of that tolerance zone, and sacrifice a little comfort to be a little bit faster, or a little bit more powerful. So it is a trade off. So but most of the clients when it comes to a medical bike fit, they’re looking for that smile, they’re looking for finally going, that’s it. That’s it, I see something different, I feel something different.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  06:23

I would propose to you that the guy who’s willing to suck it up for that short period of time is not going to continue to suck it up for his entire cycling career. Right, right. So you get he gets I’m gonna make this up left SI pain climbing Chapman. So it’s a gradual climb here in town for the other listeners who don’t know that. So it’s a five mile gravel climb persistent. up the backside of Flagstaff. So if you get left as I’ve been climbing that, but you don’t get it any other time, you may not pursue a solution for it. Sure. Although probably should, right I mean, because you don’t know in his career what he’s going to encounter another claim similar to that, and he’s gonna get his SI pain back again. So anyway, I, I think the the name on the bill performance bike fit versus medical bike fit. I did the same thing or as you know, we yeah, we grew up together BSM. So I think the end result is going to be the same, regardless of what I called it at the beginning.

Trevor Connor  07:21

Let’s hear our first clip from Glen Swan, and how a stable position is the core of both performance and comfort.

Glenn Swan  07:28

To me, it was always most important to have a very stable position on the bike, where the seat is relative to the pedals makes a huge difference in the amount of weight you have on your hands, and thus, how much you can use of your upper body and the amount of power that you can put in. So it was always very important to me to have a position on the bike where I wasn’t having to prop myself up where I was stable. If your knees are in front of your pedal axles, then as you push down on the pedal, the resultant force that’s acting on your body tends to push you forward triathletes get away with this or Time Trial lists get away with being very far forward, because they’re resting on their skeletons. But to a road racer, if you are too far forward, and you’re having to hold yourself back, then you feel like you’re doing push ups all day long. And that doesn’t help your performance at all.

Trevor Connor  08:32

So I know you have a story that you’re itching to tell about this.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  08:36

No. It was a gentleman whose first name was Marcus. I’ll leave it at that he was a Pro Tour rider for Saxo Bank. And his job was to sit at the front of the group. So here we are talking about performance. Right here we are back at the pro tour again. Instead of at the triple bypass, we’re back at the pro tour. And his job was to sit at the front of the classic so he’d be at the front of pair of Hubei for the first two thirds of the race, his his description of ripping people’s legs off. And then he would drop out of the race and he would actually urinate blood for days, sometimes weeks after Perry Bay. And everybody thought it was okay. He was sexually active. He said I got three kids. It’s not It must not be a problem, right. But the bottom line was when we looked at his position, he was in no way in the most efficient position he could be and but he was already at that level. He’s already in the pro tour level able to sit at the front of Perry Bay. The discovery was that his saddle was way too narrow and he was having to contract his pelvic floor muscles and his glutes and retro vert or tip his pelvis back so that he didn’t have to sit right on his perineum. Obviously, the road was rough enough that his perineum was taking a beating and therefore causing the blood in his urine urine for days. The once we got this guy on a saddle that was wide enough for his pelvis, we had to lengthen his stem by three centimeters. We all ultimately improved the way he looked on his bike made him significantly more comfortable. And he could do his job better,

Rob Pickels  10:08

right, and that stem lengthening is coming because with the lack of pain, because he now has a saddle that’s appropriately supporting his pelvis, he was actually able right to rotate forward, which is rotate forward at the hip, which is going to engage muscles better, it’s also going to increase stability within the core. But ultimately, that’s where that increase stem length is coming from not just stretching the rider out, that’s the new appropriate reach for this person, because they’re that much further forward with the comfortable saddle and position, absolutely,

Dr. Andy Pruitt  10:41

he was unable unable, I got eight years of college, he was unable to fire his glutes in his original position, because he was holding them in a contracted position to avoid banging up his crotch. So once we allowed him to support his pelvis, relax, those muscles come into a more appropriate pelvic position, he now had a whole new muscle group to use didn’t have before

Larry Meyer  11:05

I coined this phrase of movement strategies, right, these decisions that people make based off of either, you know, comfort, based off an injury based off a position of the bike based off their saddle height, the width of their saddle, these are strategies that people are subconsciously or consciously making. So it’s so important to guide them and educate them. And Andy, you are brilliant at just knowing the cyclists. And that’s the thing that I learned from you, which is just really talk to them. So you have to understand what their motivation is, because that contributes to that move and strategy choice, you have to understand what their pain tolerance is, you have to understand all these different variables about why they’re making these choices. But if you can make a tiny little change a few degrees in their saddle, and all of a sudden, they’re subconsciously making a choice, and they don’t even know where it came from. So

Dr. Andy Pruitt  11:55

I don’t want to hog up this whole conversation between Larry and I. But my belief was, and is that the bike should look like the rider at rider who makes themself look like a melted bike is going to be a defeated athlete. So the bike needs to look like them. So the injured athlete seeking either performance or comfort would come see us at bcbsm or wherever we approach our camps or whatever. And I believe that we should make the bike look like them that day. Larry, and his cohorts would say to me, no, they need hamstring length, they need glute strength, they need these other things. And I said, Great, we’ll change the bike fit Once you accomplish that right sir. So some athletes are motivated to just get the bike fit and go on about their business. Others are get the bike fit, then do the work, right and then refit the bike as appropriate. Once the work is done, right,

Larry Meyer  12:51

you know, when it comes to, you know, the way that we do it as physical therapists and our medical and performance bike gets for our goal through that exam, which spawned off of me working at bcbsm we’ve taken it to the next level and incorporate a lot of neuro a lot of motor skills neuromuscular programming, just to understand what that problem set looks like at the very end of that exam. You know, Andy, you walk in and put that right on the bike, you know exactly what they’re going to be looking like, you can tell which way their knees are gonna go and, and how they’re going to be positioned on on that bike. So it’s very important for us as PTS to understand these different components of movement strategies so that we can best understand their needs when they’re riding.

Rob Pickels  13:32

Something I would want to address before we get too deep into this conversation is that word comfort? Right? I think that comfort oftentimes has a negative connotation associated with it. Comfort is steerer. Tube extensions is gel pads on your seat. Yeah, it’s it’s funky looking saddles that don’t look like a bike saddle. That’s what people think when they think comfort. But this is not a value judgment, right? It’s not about having a slammed stamp, even though those might be in the rules, right? Thou shalt not have more than one space or under your stamp, I’m sure is written in there. It has nothing to do with any of that. And Andy, as you said, The bike has to reflect the rider. And here’s the thing, if you don’t like what your bike looks like, then maybe you should address yourself and your limitations so that you can ultimately get to a place maybe that you want to be but hey, if your front end is in that position, if your saddle is in that position, if your shoes and your cleats are in that position, it’s because that’s what they need. In that moment.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  14:32

There’s a whole family of bikes called comfort bikes. irritates the crap out of me, that’s assuming all the others are not. So there’s, that is a great point.

Trevor Connor  14:44

I get to take it a step further. There are things that people think are comfortable that if you’re arriving for 30 minutes, yeah, like the gel pads. So the argument I always make to people is, go get a beanbag chair, sink into the beanbag chair. That feels great. Try sitting at that beanbag chair for eight hours a day at your desk. I was gonna discover very quickly you really hate

Larry Meyer  15:02

  1. It’s the need, right? You’re looking at what that person’s need is? Yep.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  15:06

I mean, I’m an anti gel guy. Yep, gel wants to return to his normal shape. So you do the thumb test at the bike shop, you go, Wow, that feels good. That’s gonna be great. And when you press into it, yes, it’s soft. It always wants to return to its original shape. So gel is always pushing back.

Rob Pickels  15:26

You’re absolutely correct. Yes, a six would like to have a word with you.

Trevor Connor  15:30

So we’re gonna shift here, and talk about probably the most important area of comfort, which is the saddle or where you sit on the bike. And I would love for the two of you to kind of take it from here and say, how do you build comfort into where you sit on the bike?

Dr. Andy Pruitt  15:53

Well, let me first say that the saddle is the center of the fit universe. And if you have one of our listeners is at Larry’s facility or at a retail shop, in the middle of a fit. And for some reason, the saddle gets changed, you start over, it changes everything, it changes your pelvic alignment, it changes your saddle height that changes your reach to the handlebars. So just, if people listen to this, turn this off, they’re driving up the mountain, they turn this off after this, they it’s been worthwhile, right? The saddle is the center of the universe, and an in the any fit that you’re paying for somewhere or not for and they change the saddle in the middle of that fit. You really have to stop and rethink everything satellites, saddle for aft all of those reach. So the saddle is the key to everything. How do you find the right saddle? As did a presentation at Larry’s facility a week or so ago? And that that how do we find the right side? Well, I came up and I said, well, there are devices out there that helped start a conversation. So depending on your torso angle on the bike really determines what part of the pelvis, you’re actually going to sit on the comfort bike, the town bike, you’re probably sitting more on your ischial tuberosities The actual sit bones, and they can easily be measured the width of them. For more aggressive or more performance related bikes, we’re going to be a little bit farther forward on the pubic ramyeon we’re going to roll you look at a pelvis, it looks like a rocking chair. And we’re gonna rock the chair a little bit forward on the on the rails or the rocker aspects of the chair, we can’t measure those it’s very personal area. So we can’t measure those in a retail or even a physical therapy store. So physical therapy shop. So the conversation needs to start with ischial tuberosity width is a conversation starter, here’s what these measure that might indicate that we can start to look at this shape and size of saddle for you. But it is a it is a definite work in progress. I encourage people to find a fit facility that has a subtle trial program. And most of them do, where you can use it for 30 days or whatever X number of miles X number of rides. And you can churn through these until you can find one that works for you. Yes, I have several patents. Yes, they were all through specialized. But in all honesty, the industry has been elevated to such a place now that there are many brands that do quite well, and mimicking the work that’s been done scientifically, prior. So I don’t think it necessarily has to have a big wide s on it. But there’s got to be a saddle out there for somebody, there’s got to be one out there for you. But you have to look

Larry Meyer  18:36

well, it starts with the experts, you know, like yourself, where you’ve seen 1000s of people on saddles, and you give good recommendations, but there’s gonna be those individuals that come back a week later and say I hate it. I hate it, it just didn’t work. And so the saddle is so unique to all different purposes, right? So the flare in the back the falling walls in the side, they’re they’re meant for control. They’re meant for positioning, again, going back to the need of the cyclists, what kind of race you doing, what kind of recreational sport you’re doing, when you were talking to had a story that popped my head about 16 year old Jr. That was on our team. And he made a choice to move his saddle up in the air because he felt that it would be more appropriate, more comfortable. So he moved it up five centimeters. And so his dad came up to me in practice and said I won’t say his name is got some back pain is kind of going down his rear and and I said okay, well let’s take a look actually didn’t see the bike that he was riding training on. So he came in for a bike fit and a hit five centimeters high. And I said what is going on here? And he said, Well, I just moved it up. I thought it’d be appropriate to move it up and it would give me something different. He felt that it was going to make a change. And he knows what happened. He flared up his hamstrings. He flared up his sciatic nerves on both sides. Had to take him off the bike for a month. You because he was going downhill, he had flared up everything in his lower extremities. His his sciatic nerves were just zooming in every single time he had a pedal stroke. So he made the choice to be comfortable, but he had no clue. And so does this happen all the time? It does. So when it comes back to that word, comfort, comfort, right? What are we what are we looking for when it comes to that word comfortable, I tend to go towards the tolerance zone right? Over evenly distributing that stress throughout being on that bike, whether it’s racing or just having a good time on a bike. So where we are in a tolerance zone where we can tolerate riding be a machine for a period of time, that allows us to do what we want to do.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  20:39

So that that brings up a really good point. So I’m assuming this young man had the correct saddle. Which brings me to one of my my favorite sayings is the the right saddle in the wrong place is as bad as the wrong saddle. There you go. So let’s talk about men and women differences, right? I mean, our undercarriages are similar but different, right? But where we want to bear weight is really on skeletal tissue for the most part. So numbness of any kind, male or female should not be tolerated. Urinary issues should not be tolerated. These are things that can be eliminated with the right saddle choice and the right saddle position. They should not be tolerated in any way, shape, or form. When I was a young writer, if you are numb for the last hour of a long ride, now, you know, okay, that’s what we’re going to tolerate. That’s okay. That’s part of doing business. Right. But it’s not the case anymore. Saddles, and fit have improved to the point where you should not tolerate numbness, tingling, urinary discomfort, you should not tolerate sexual dysfunction, male or female, that’s associated with cycling. If you were to interview a urologist who’s my age, and he’s 70s, and asked him point blank, is there a connection between cycling and erectile dysfunction? He’s gonna say yes, because that’s what he was brought up to understand. If you ask a 40 year old urologist, is there a connection between erectile dysfunction and cycling? He’s gonna say no, because the saddle industry has improved so much that we’ve almost totally eradicated erectile dysfunction. And its association with cycling, as long as the saddle Joyce is correct. And the position is correct.

Trevor Connor  22:17

Let’s hear it got for Glen Swan and his thoughts on the saddle.

Glenn Swan  22:21

Once again, it comes back to being in the right position relative to the pedals so that you tend to stay on a call it the more comfortable the broader part of the saddle, if a person thinks oh, the nose of the saddle is going to be uncomfortable, I think I’ll tilt it down, so it doesn’t get me you tend to slide onto the nose, and then have to push yourself back. So that can be a little counterintuitive, keeping the saddle far enough back, keeping the nose of the saddle level or even a bit up. In my case, people look at the saddle on my bike and think, Oh, my goodness, the nose is pointed up quite a bit above the horizontal, that’s got to be uncomfortable. But what it does for me is it means if I were to try to slide forward, I would have to slide uphill, so I stay back, the more comfortable part of the saddle. So it’s not just the shape or the technology built into a saddle, where the saddle is, is at least as important as what the saddle is.

Trevor Connor  23:30

So the things you brought up now are for comfort on the saddle, you need the right saddle, and it’s a more modern saddle, needs to be in the right position. Don’t go excessive with the gels. I don’t think there’s anybody here that saying that they want the gels No. What else? What else should you be looking for

Dr. Andy Pruitt  23:47

shape. So the shapes vary. I think the wide flutter in the back, if you’re quite arrow gives us something to push against. But it also impinges hamstrings, so that it’s really that’s why I think trial and error so important. Even though the saddle may measure it on the box, say it’s a 143 measurement, the shape is going to be so critical and to where that saddle fits underneath that athlete. So shape is key cut outs, I think to relieve pressure and the perineum that cut out has to be in the right place, whether you’re male or female. So my work has disproved the fact that we really want a big cut out for females. This is not the place for that presentation. But I think women should be really careful about choosing a saddle that supports their, their genitalia without putting undue pressure on it. And men probably do better with cutouts than women do. Again, there’s so much overlap that I’ve suggested that they don’t call men’s and women’s saddles anymore. I think they just need to be saddles. Even though the saddle that I hold the patent on was designed for women 40% of all those sales now are men. So it’s all about shape and padding, or lack thereof, even rails, even the rail choice plays it way, and the shell of the saddle. So the more expensive saddles are going to have carbon rails and carbon shells, very little flex, and very little hammocking in those. So if you’re looking for a saddle for comfort, and you’re not so concerned about the number of grams that weighs, then go with alloy rails and a plastic shell, because you’ll actually get some flex and suspension in that plastic shell. Now, will it last forever? No, like a coat hanger, the more flex the shell has, the more apt is going to break over time, is that it should not be expected to last forever. That’s always a common question, how long should my saddle

Larry Meyer  25:34

Oh, more and more I see these saddles failing more and more, it’s one of the first things I look at is just kind of breeze over the top that saddle just kind of your eyeballs. Since looking at hundreds of bikes in a bike lab, you want to make sure that settles surviving just as much as you are. So the you know, if you have asymmetries in your body, you have a previous ankle sprain or hip injury or fracture, previous fractures shoulder injury, odds are you’re loading that saddle. You know, if it’s 5%, over the course of hours and minutes of throughout the year, you’re beaten down to saddle on one side. For what

Rob Pickels  26:06

it’s worth, Larry was glancing at me with every one of those, just so everybody knows.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  26:12

But that’s a great segue, I think, because let’s take our crooked saddle when the shell is broken, or a rail is bent at times, so and they come in to you with hand knee or back pain. And the novice fitter is going to try to solve that with a glove or brake could change, right that sat not sitting squarely on the saddle, suddenly, they have turned ever so slightly on their bike, and it’s going to over pressurize one hand over the other, it’s going overpressure as one knee over the other. Because the saddle rail is bent.

Larry Meyer  26:46

Yeah, I have this test where I have a stool on my bike lab. And so I’ll just be talking to them, I’ll say they’ll say, Well, what’s the problem with the rail beam brand, you know, and like it’s, you know, two degrees, it’s not a ton. But so I’m going to sit on this stool. And I’m going to put one cheek on the stool. And I’m going to have that one kind of just floating up in the air. What side of my back is doing all the work? And like, oh, no, get it. Because you’re holding up your body for 2345 hours. It’s a big, big deal. And you’ve got to make sure that the orientation that saddle is meeting your needs and making sure that it’s not just changing over time.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  27:25

So the saddle is the middle of the fit universe, it is the middle about the Andy

Trevor Connor  27:29

I’m gonna greet which was what you told me what the outline. Look, I was gonna share that, you know, I use a plastic shelf for my saddle. And I rarely went to see them without cracking it. And I have been really fortunate to never really have any serious knee problems, anything like that. I can talk about my back problem another time. But I can tell you, some of the only times I’ve started to experience knee pain on the bike was when the saddle was cracked, and I didn’t pick up on it right away. Yeah, well, I

Rob Pickels  28:01

mean, ultimately, you’re fundamentally changing the shape of that saddle. It’s no longer the saddle that you bought. And that shape is hugely important. Because even let’s say you know that I know that I’m a 143 and a specialized saddle. Great, which specialized saddle, because the different shapes mean that you sit differently on them. And you can’t say Oh, well, Roman Evo is that am I dating myself? Is that still occurring saddle? There you go Roman evil, I’m a 143. I’m not, I’m a card carrying member of the big ass club for what it’s worth. But if you fit well on a Roman EVO, and then you try to move to a power, you might not be at that exact same 143 Because, again, the shape has changed. Your sitting position has even changed on it. All of these details matter and we can’t be overlooking them. So let’s

Dr. Andy Pruitt  28:50

not offend all those people out there. Right in 155 or 168 saddles. They’re not part of the big ass club. They’re part of the wide pelvis club.

Larry Meyer  28:58

Okay. But the card that I was handed did not say the wide pelvis club and he said the big ass club. Yeah, you were one of the first I was one of the initial Ribs. Ribs you quite a bit.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  29:10


Trevor Connor  29:12

I’ve got one more question here. And I’m actually going to throw this to rob because there is one other important aspect of comfort where you sit, which is the Shammi

Rob Pickels  29:21

footpads. I know if people don’t know in a previous life prior to being here on the fast talk podcast. Yeah, I made I made shammies. I won’t necessarily talk about them because I don’t want any advertisements or whatever. But shammies are hugely important. I’ll even say that sometimes having no Shammi can also be a good thing as well. And again, this goes back to the rider and what the rider needs, but a lot of shammies do have some great engineering that goes into them, and the hallmarks of good shammies Trevor, in my opinion, are shammies that closely mimic the car on tours of your body, we don’t really want a diaper. Let’s be honest, we don’t just want a big bulbous pad between your legs. One, it’s uncomfortable walking around, but two, ultimately, they end up putting pressure in all the wrong places, just like having that big gel pad on top of your saddle. And so anatomically designed shammies are really important. But I also think that, you know, again, this is very much about personal preference, because I do believe that the position that you’re in even the bike that you’re riding makes some shammies more or less appropriate based on where you’re putting pressure. I do not subscribe to duration of ride. Some people, some companies will make shammies and say, This is our best Shami for the longest ride possible like no man, that’s a terrible way to go out and begin categorizing the shammies that you have the foam that most shammies have, in all honesty packs out to nothing to a millimeter, right? You feel it in the store, it’s this big, beautiful plush, eight millimeters 10 millimeters thick. The moment you put your body weight on there, let’s be honest, that baby is shrinking down to one millimeter. And when I was designing shammies, I would liken that to it’s like not having enough air in your mountain bike suspension. Right? As soon as you sit on it, you’re bottoming that suspension out how is that suspension doing anything for you? Right, and so this is where it Shammi foam density, ultimately is a relatively important thing. It’s not as easy to test as it is saddles because saddles don’t necessarily touch intimate areas, saddles have programs, but people do need to find shammies that work for them. You know, the previous company I worked for was Pearl zooming Pearl Azumi worked really well for me in some regards. And in all honesty, it didn’t work well for me in other regards. But those same features that I didn’t like other people raved about. Am I wrong? Are they wrong? No, neither of us are wrong.

Larry Meyer  31:58

You had a certain knee that you needed to fulfill the choices on it right? So absolutely without question who hasn’t gotten a new kit and just been like, Ah, this doesn’t work. The two slippery kid are the two slippery shorts are this sticky shorts that makes everything irritable. That is a big, big piece of the puzzle when it comes to making a choice of how you orient yourself on that bike.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  32:21

So I should I need to adapt my old saying then the saddle and Shammi choice are the center of the universe because that that Shammi absolutely changes. So I thoroughly agree that you have to seek out and find the Shammi shape density brand that works for you. Now, be careful because they do change. Sometimes they didn’t change the name of that model, but they did change the Shami pad.

Rob Pickels  32:47

And for what it’s worth keep in mind that even updated shorts that have the same Shami in them. Try as we may that shimmy might not be positioned in exactly the same spot as it was in the model previous the shammies exactly the same. And just as we have sizing issues on saddles, I encourage everyone put your hand between your saddle and your shorts and feel where your bony structure is in comparison to where your Shammi buttpad is because oftentimes if a champion is too far back in the shorts or is designed to narrow you will be sitting on the edge of that one. You’re now not getting the protection from the Shami but you are getting increased centerline pressure because all that foam is now bunched up in the middle you’re not actually actively sitting on it. Yeah, on the same we’re all different. Each company is trying to find what they think is perfect bell shaped curve. Exactly. Nike running shoes fit my feet really well. Great. Is Nike, the best shoe company? Definitely not. What wouldn’t maybe new balance is better for you, maybe Adidas. And it’s that same thing with Hey, when I was designing shammies, I tried to design around the cohort that I was going after I’m not saying they’re universally the best, right and so again, this goes back to what works for you as an individual.

Trevor Connor  34:04

There is a important practical consideration here but particularly like when you’re talking about pro athletes, they have a sponsor, you’re stuck in whatever that is kits are but a lot of people are members of clubs where the clubs, make a deal with a clothing company and and order the clothing. Be a little careful about that. If you’re ordering ahead, you know go ahead and order as many jerseys as you want. But I highly recommend try the particular Shami model give it a couple rides before you go invest in four or five of them. And I think of a I was on a team where we had this new clothing company sponsor the team. And I was always the guy saying, you know put me in a burlap sack I could care less. And they did this Shammi was awful I was I’ll spare you the details. I was finding blood in the Shami after I was right and that’s how bad it was.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  34:57

That’s a detail

Trevor Connor  34:58

and literally Come on guys on the team what they were doing because you got to honor the sponsor just are talking. They were, they were literally taking the Shami out of the team shorts, she’s buying shorts that they could tolerate, and just wearing the team shorts over top of it.

Rob Pickels  35:17

Yeah, amateur athletes have at the worst, right? pro athletes, we used to custom make pretty much all the clothing for the pros. So hey, we could we could put a different champion or change the position.

Larry Meyer  35:29

So going back to the bend saddle, when he’s you find that bend saddle rail, and there’s, I have kind of like a threshold of 1.5 degrees bent. If it’s more than that, then you’re gonna have probably have some issues. But you really have to take a look at, you know, how much they writing and, and what are their comfort level, what are they feeling, but just moving down to the feet, you can have someone that presents out of their shoes standing in your examination room, and there, they’ve got flat feet, or they pronate consistently. And then you take note of it, you look at their feet, you look at their ankles, and you see some stuff, and then you get them on the bike. And lo and behold, they present as Super naters on the bike. And you see like, what’s, what am I seeing here? What’s going on? And like, why are they making that choice, there’s no reason for them to make that choice. And then you look down at the shoes, and that these 10 year old shoes, and you think, oh my and then you look at the pedals, and these 10 year old pedals and you start asking them when’s the last time you swapped out these SPDs and they’re like, I can’t tell you I have no idea. Have them come off, take a look. You have to tell them that the fit is done for now because you can’t really do a fit on them. Because their shoes are so worn and their petals are so worn that if you were to do a fit on them, they would have to do it all over again. With new shoes or new pedals.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  36:53

What would Larry saying is this a flat footed rider? Sure. Right. So you expect to see a flat foot on the pedal knees go into the top do blah, blah, blah. And yet they were doing just the opposite. Because of extensive outside edge pedal and shoe were Yeah, but let them drift off to the outside of the shoe. So instead of a promenade or flatfoot the became a supinator hierarchy foot purely out of equipment forcing them to do that.

Rob Pickels  37:16

That’s right. And I will say I think in my experience not to call out a particular company but to mention I feel like Speedplay was really bad about this on the outside edges of their little lollipop pedals would wear out quite quite a bit. But they were pedals that we use it a lot at the center because they had amazing adjustability in what you could do with axles trouble notation like a control exactly the bike that I

Trevor Connor  37:39

am be paid for life. Me too, but I have to replace my pedals pretty frequently.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  37:45

The key was Speedplay. Any pedal is trying to make the rider on top of them. So I go back to Larry’s flat footed writer, why would that person were off the outside edge of his pedal and his shoe and he’s cleat? Probably because he needed a wider stance and had that pedal been placed out under his foot. That wouldn’t have happened. Yeah, so stance width is a foreign concept. To many bike fitters. It’s like, I don’t want to mention this, there’s going to be a pedal change and a clutch oh my god, this fisken become a four hour fit. I’m not going to go there. Yeah, no stance with when we’re talking about the foot and shoewear stance, which is a whole new frontier that needs to be studied and needs to be addressed.

Rob Pickels  38:25

I think that stance width is also a taboo subject because a lot of people associated with aerodynamics, right. And if the stance width is narrower than it you must be an aerodynamic rider. And if the stands with his wide, then you’re hanging everything out in the wind. But as we talked about before, I don’t even know if it makes a difference in the winter. Exactly. But this is something that we need to be focusing on regardless of any aero benefit because comfort is king. But this

Trevor Connor  38:55

goes back to the story I gave at the very beginning of this, which was when Dr. Pruitt fit me back in 2011. He put me on much, much wider speed plays. So there’s like I think it’s 53 is the

Dr. Andy Pruitt  39:09

normal 150 milliliters from the crank arm to the middle of pedals.

Trevor Connor  39:12

I think you put me on 58 or 60 It was really wide. And this summer right before the race I had to replace my pedals and I couldn’t find the wider ones anymore. So I had to buy the 50 threes and now I can’t go two and a half hours without my feet being an absolute pain.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  39:29

And why is that? Because the narrower stance is forcing the pressure on the outside of your foot. There’s like Larry’s flat footed guy probably had a lateral foot pain until his shoes broke.

Rob Pickels  39:38

And then like felt good.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  39:41

But but they are available. So why who bought Speedplay down there was there was a lull in there for a bit. But the long pedals are long arms. Yes, they are back sounds great.

Trevor Connor  39:52

Let’s take a minute to hear from Alex house who has pretty strong opinions about the importance of shoes.

Alex Howes  39:58

Honestly, I say this as somebody Just the 2700 mile tour divide, I feel like the feet is probably your most important touch point. The other two, like, if you have a mediocre good saddle, and you can sit on it well enough with no pain, like, sure that’s not going to get you a whole lot, you know, making it upgrade their hand position, you can move that around pretty easily. You know, especially on a drop bar, you’re not locked into one position. Yeah, we spent a lot of time in the hoods, but you can move around. But your feet can be like such a limiter, I mean, all literally every bit of power you make goes through those pedals. And as soon as you start having problems with your feet, if you have maybe excessive Q factor in one direction, or the other, slop in the pedals, pedals that disengage under power, there’s just so many things that can go wrong there. And it’s at the World Tour let you see it like for riders sit around obsessing over their shoes all the time. I mean, the number of times I’ve looked over in the bus, at a rider on day 16. And they’re cutting a hole in their shoe. And it’s like, Dude, you’re a professional. You’ve been, you’ve spent 20,000 kilometers in that pair of shoes this year already. Like, what the heck are you doing? And they’re like, Yeah, I can’t I can’t pedal this one more time. Like I’m gonna have to amputate something on my foot. Good shoes and good pedals and having them in the right place. To me, that’s, that’s a big deal. That’s a really big deal.

Trevor Connor  41:33

Tis the season for knee pain. As the summer sunshine inspires us to ramp up our ride miles our knees don’t always keep up. If you’ve got knee pain, we have the solution for you. Bastok labs members can follow our knee health pathway feature in our directors Sports Science Medicine, Dr. Andy Pruitt did the introduction to the knee health pathway of fast talk

Rob Pickels  41:57

And it’s important to note that stands with is not necessarily the same on both sides know, anatomical anomalies within their own body. Me personally, I fractured my hip. So one of my femoral neck is a little bit shorter. So yeah, just because you need a plus five or a plus 10 on one side does not necessarily mean it’s both right. It could be.

Larry Meyer  42:17

And you know, when it comes to athletic people from age 1314 to adulthood, how many people out there have had ankle sprains that they did no restoration of any strength, joint mobility, flexibility, they have no idea what their Achilles length is on either side. So then you have a foot on one side that’s weak, one sided abducts out the other side that does that. So there’s those continuums, where you have to continually look at what the foots doing at different parts of the pedal stroke as well.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  42:48

Larry, please keep going on a symmetries, right? So we are not perfect symmetrical vices down the middle right equals left. We’re not what that bike is.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  42:57

But it doesn’t have to. That’s right, if you make the bike Look, that’s it. So what other kinds of asymmetries are our listeners may be going to encounter, right? This just stick with the feet. What kind of asymmetries are they going to encounter?

Larry Meyer  43:09

Well, like I was saying, Those ankle sprains are the epidemic. Because we’ve all had ankle sprains that we never did anything for. We didn’t go to the dock, we didn’t do anything. Even that fifth metatarsal break, you know, someone steps off a curb, and they get put in a cast for four to six weeks. And you know, Doc doesn’t say anything, or, and they just don’t do anything about it and their foots weak forever, the body doesn’t know, to bring them back to a norm. And especially if you’re riding a bike all the time. And so then they have this foot abduction, they have arch collapses, they might have a tight Achilles. That’s just one, but that’s everywhere.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  43:45

So I think it’s pretty obvious that if you have one high arch foot, one low arch foot, that’s an asymmetry. Yeah. Talk to me about 10 to Achilles length differences or functional planner dorsiflexion shared ability to point the toe draw the toe back, if they’re not the same. What does that do to a cyclist?

Larry Meyer  44:02

Sure, so at the top of the pedal stroke is where everything falls apart. That’s where we just like in running, it’s the mid stance. And so whenever you have that ankle range of motion difference at the top of the pedal stroke, you’re going to see that you’re going to have that increased hip flexion. On one side, hip pike on one side, you’re gonna find all kinds of differences with a tight Achilles, dysfunctional calf, dysfunctional peroneal tendons. So what does that look like if you have a short Achilles on one side, that means that you can’t dorsi flex every time that we walk, we pull our toes up, and we clear the ground every time we on a bike at the top of the pedal stroke, we clear our foot just like we do when we walk. And if our ankle doesn’t bend as much as one side body is going to choose to make that knee and that cycle higher. That means a femur moves up into the pelvis. That means that we’re probably going to hike or hip. If we have tight hips like Rob. And so if you’ve had an occurrence on your hips, or you just genetically that’s who you are, you don’t have that good hip range of motion. You can start hiking the hip you’re gonna get low back pain, and then things just kind of Cascade then the hand pressure On one side, right? All kinds of neck pain, all kinds of contributing problems down the road

Dr. Andy Pruitt  45:06

so that both of you go to fit school specialize. So one of the quizzes we would do kind of start the people thinking is we’d ask the original question was, a rider comes into your to your store or your fifth studio was left hand pain, Let’s list all the things that can cause left hand pain. Well, of course, first of all, they will go a carpal tunnel, I mean, they want to go right to the hand, right. But just like you said, that asymmetry in Achilles length, can cause hand pressure on one side, so that I just want to make people out there. So alert to this, that the cursory bike that is addressing saddle height, maybe saddle for aft, and reach, right, so that cursory drive by bike fit is not going to solve your hand pain if a bike fitter works at a retail setting. And the customer comes in and is just drawn to the glove wall. The glove wall is in a fabulous place to start a discussion about a real bike fit, right? I mean, looking for more padding in your gloves, like looking for more padding in your saddle, you’re looking for love and all the wrong.

Trevor Connor  46:18

That was the kind of surprise question I was going to end this podcast with arches, the fact that sometimes when you have this discomfort or pain somewhere, yeah, the sources elsewhere. And the one I always love to point out, I always say knees are the victim. As I said, if you got hit by a car in your knee, then the problem is in your knee. Otherwise the knee is just where you’re feeling the pain. But the source is is elsewhere, either the

Larry Meyer  46:40

foot of the hip, right?

Dr. Andy Pruitt  46:42

Yeah, that was right. My it’s either the foot of the hip and the knees just caught in the middle and he’s the victim. Yep. So, I mean, yes. Are there knee injuries in the perfectly biomechanical 10? cyclist? Absolutely, there’s no they can be overused, even if they’re perfect biomechanical 10. But if you’re not a perfect 10, you can still get overuse injuries on any body part. So I don’t want to mislead people to think that just because they have hand saddle or foot pain that they’re not a biomechanical. Yeah, they might be

Larry Meyer  47:11

and ways that you can help your partner or just a group, you’re with you. Look, you’re behind that, right. If you see somebody’s shoulder hiked up high. They’re loading that shoulder more, and they’re just putting more effort into that shoulder. And you can probably ask them do you have you know, if they’re left shoulders high, they have left neck pain, they have lateral shoulder irritation, they have numbness going on the nerve, left palm, so you can just say, you know, your shoulders on one side. It’s going on there. Sorry, I

Dr. Andy Pruitt  47:40

got one forearm that’s almost three centimeters shorter than my other one.

Larry Meyer  47:44

What am I gonna do about that? We’re going to compensate. That’s a structural limitation.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  47:48

I’m going to compensate with my my trapezius and neck pain. What am I gonna do to my bike?

Larry Meyer  47:54

Well, depends on what you need. Right? So you’re gonna depend on what short? Yeah,

Rob Pickels  47:59

what did you say was the Lord look at you? Three centimeter difference where forearm four, I knew you were messed up. I didn’t realize you I got so many

Dr. Andy Pruitt  48:06

bad parts. How did that happen? Is that from

Dr. Andy Pruitt  48:09

first break was football second break was wrestling. And third one was mountain biking one centimeter each time.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  48:15

Anyway, so my point is, so I’m not the only person out there with no, so do brake hoods have to be perfectly symmetric made

Larry Meyer  48:22

do not thank you, you know, that’s where you’re gonna make up the difference, right? That’s where you’re gonna try to make up that difference. And with cyclists all the time we see fractured wrists, and there’s a mess. The big thing that needs to be tested all the time is like, just show me what your range of motion looks like, can you pronate Can you supinate and can you do wrist extension? If you can’t, if you’re locked, if you can’t do it, then you gotta compensate. It’s a critical part of level of d&d and physical therapist when it comes to like, determining whether or not we remediate or we compensate that structural limitation, sometimes you just can’t get away from it, you’re gonna have to compensate.

Rob Pickels  48:56

We’ve been talking a lot about some very specific solutions to problems that people have, but it’s brought up a question in my mind. And that is, when you’re working with a bike fitter, or even maybe when you’re trying to make changes for yourself, which nobody should do, they should always be a professional bike fitter, is the best solution always immediately more comfortable, or let’s pretend that rider needs more arch support. More arch support improves their knee tracking, it improves how their hips are sitting on the saddle. Is that arch support always going to be more comfortable initially or is comfort sometimes a longer term solution and it might not be more comfortable tomorrow, but it will be next month. Well

Larry Meyer  49:37

the thing that Andy helped me understand when I just watched him do bike fits when I first started doing bike fits 15 years ago, I had the opportunity to just like, you know, train with the best and I and the thing that Andy would do was understand the length of time that we need to look at right so you make a change. And he would say you know this is a temporary fix or die On the road a few weeks from now, you might feel this, I don’t want to make tell you that this is going to happen. But because you do this type of riding, you are going to possibly feel this. And I want you to let me know. So it does take that experience. As you do bike fitting ng ride, you have to ride and understand what people’s needs are and what under what you understand about people. If they tell you certain things, it could be a clue in the very beginning of their subjective information when they’re telling about what they do. And so, and he did an amazing job, just understanding the human being that’s riding that bike, and if you understand what their needs are and and more than if you’re that person getting a bike fit, the more you tell that bike fitter, the more they’re going to be able to understand you. And it’s not

Dr. Andy Pruitt  50:43

a one and done.

Trevor Connor  50:44

So we’ve talked a lot about the importance of the fit the importance of the position that we are asymmetrical, and we’ve kind of gone back and forth between the feet and the hands. But so I’m actually going to bring us back to somewhere a little more mundane about let’s actually get local. Are there things to think about with shoes, pedals, handlebars, handlebar tape, gloves that are going to improve comfort or make it worse, because these are things that people can do themselves. I think we’ve made a very solid case go and get that fit you need that fit you need to understand your asymmetries you need to fix these are you are going to be uncomfortable. Yeah, but we just talked about the Shammi. What are some other things to know about gloves, handlebar, tape, handlebars, shoes, pedals, just things you’ve learned that don’t do this. This is uncomfortable do this,

Larry Meyer  51:35

I have one test that I do with lots of my bike fits when it comes to shoes. And it’s a simple, take an eight by 11 white piece of paper and you just trace the foot. And I’ll say take that into a bike shop. Right measure it, measure that with the width from your inner forefoot to the outer widest part. And just that’s not where you stop. But that’s where you begin. That’s where you just at least know that you’re in the ballpark when it comes to foot with that. And that’s just again, one of these epidemic problems when it comes to shoes, people in too narrow shoes. I think being in a climbing community, things get a little confusing as well. But just go into a shop and just know that what you’re with if your foot is in standing position,

Dr. Andy Pruitt  52:18

much of my reputation is based on the invention of the body geometry shoe, or I was attempting to make a biomechanically correct shoe for the masses, right? And we know that nine out of 10 people have some degree of forefoot angulation called forefoot varus that’s where we angled the forefoot of that shoe. But I wanted to be more aggressive with it but we quickly learned in trial that you know 1.5 millimeters was about what was tolerable by anybody. And then we gave the adjustability to go up or down arch we had you know multiple choices and arch heights. But most cycling shoes are an empty box that needs to be customized for the rider so I really don’t care anymore. What brand people have as long as inside that shoe looks like them. Right? So if you go by Brand X, it’s going to need to be customized hopefully if you do buy a specialized it too has to be customized it just a bit more applicable adjustable and by its nature but so I can choose an empty box primarily that need attention

Rob Pickels  53:26

lots attention. Yeah.

Rob Pickels  53:28

I want to actually say something that combines both of you into one for footwear and that is proper shoe sizing is hugely important. And I think that oftentimes people will size their shoes like ballet slippers right that your toe is like touching the end of that shoe. It’s the tightest your foot can possibly be in there. Guess what, after an hour or less your foot is swelling especially in hot weather. And that shoe had never fit you to begin with but it definitely doesn’t fit you now, but the thing I want to tie to you Andy is this. If you buy a pair of shoes and you know that you’re going to need a custom insole, either one that’s made for you or a very good off the shelf insole you might need to add some various wedges in there you have to be bring that along with you when you go shoe shopping because guess what, you start stuffing that stuff into a shoe, that toe box it doesn’t fit like it did when there was nothing in that shoe anymore. And and here’s the thing, I’m in the industry and I’ve fallen victim to this so it’s really important to point this out to people if you know you need additional wedging, make sure that you’re putting that in the shoe when you’re trying it on make sure that you’re leaving yourself in appropriate amount of toe you know room and that the toe box has enough volume. That’s where I see the biggest issues.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  54:46

I mean, that’s this reminds me of old old stories but but you’re right on the money. I mean, once you start to customize that shoe, you buy your shoe online and then you go to the store with your for your fit and they start at In our support and wedges in person, that shouldn’t work for you anymore. But when I was a young writer, which was a long time ago, I mean, we I raced and we’ll shorts and true leather shammies that had to be creamed and worked every day, it’d be soft. We nailed our cleats to the bottom of our wooden soul shoes. And when a shoe was new, we would soak them in warm water overnight. And then we would put them on and go for a ride the next day and let them dry around if he suddenly had a custom upper is that is that leather shoe dried around our foot, no socks, just let them dry around our foot. And, but they were real leather. So they were expandable, right they would stretch. The shoes now are synthetic. And they’re meant not to stretch right and to be more durable. So the world has changed. cleat position is no longer nailed on. It’s quite adjustable. It’s a fixed toebox height and width and length. So your your points are really well taken

Rob Pickels  55:54

and something to keep in mind to cleat position. And the adjustability they’re in is different from brand to brand, some drill their holes further forward some further back. So if you’re changing brands, especially make sure that you’re able to take these fit coordinates and transfer them between your different accessories.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  56:14

I mean, one of my greatest nightmares and I’m sure Larry has encountered this in his now private practices that the guy who comes in who bought his bike online. He wanted to bring everything news that could all get adjusted at this really expensive and he’s traveled a long way. He’s got his bike he bought online he hadn’t written yet. He’s got his brand new shoes in the box, brand new kit. And off we go. How many times have you told that customer that patient I am so sorry, I hope you have your receipt. This bike does not fit you and I cannot make it fit.

Larry Meyer  56:44

It’s not a good day.I have told that story of I went down to a race called hotter in hell in Texas. And the airline lost my bike wishes they lost it their exact wording was they chose not to put it on the plane never found, although I got too late.

Trevor Connor  57:00

But I didn’t get it in time for the race. So I did the race on a borrowed bike in brand new shoes, brand new everything made the wedding break away. It was three of us. I could see they were hurt. And I went I have this race one. And then 15 minutes later I was on the side of the road ripping my shoes off screaming my feet had crapped so badly,

Larry Meyer  57:23

it won’t catch up to you. Right? He does catch up and the tolerance zone was uh, was obliterated for you and you got out of your comfort zone and your body said that’s it.

Trevor Connor  57:32

This is why my shoes whenever I fly now to races always go on my carry on. But to Rob’s point, I mean, I have my recent issue with my spin the length, the side, I have always really cared about. If your feet are uncomfortable, you just can’t ride you just can’t put out the power. And to Rob’s point, I get custom inserts, there’s a woman down in Lewisville, who does a great job, I have a redo them every couple of years because your feet change into Andy, you’ll get a kick out of this. I’m still on 2013 I think specialized shoes, but it’s not the same pair of shoes, they just fit me so well. When they discontinued them. I’ve went tried the newer model didn’t like them as much. So I ordered three pair of that particular model, because they just really worked for me and I’m slowly I’m very I’m on my last saying you got to move on, you’re gonna have to move on at some point. I’m not looking forward to finding whatever this next shoes that fit as well. But yeah, these details make a huge difference.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  58:37

I mean, Rob, you you work for pro Zoom is primarily a shoe company or not primarily, it was an apparel company who became a shoe company. And I consulted for specialized, which was a bike company that became a shoe company. And we’d be going along and you know, we need to innovate, we need that we need to really take the issues to the next level we’re going to, we’re going to design a new last and I would just cringe. Why would you do that? We’re selling hundreds of 1000s of bare happy people around the world. And you now want to change the shape of the thing that the shoes are made to. Yeah, but they do it.

Rob Pickels  59:13

I mean, I’m speechless. I don’t even you don’t even know what to say. It is it’s hard on the side of the manufacturer, right? And sometimes decisions are made. Fortunately, I worked in innovation. So I got to create some cool solutions that were then used in product. But no, Andy, you’re entirely right, we see changes like this occur for the sake of something being new and new isn’t necessarily better. At the same time, I will say don’t be afraid of new things because some great innovation has occurred that I do believe impacts function, comfort, performance, so on and so forth. But yeah, there’s one

Trevor Connor  59:47

thing we didn’t discuss about pedal systems and that’s free play. Let’s hear Glads wants thoughts on the topic.

Glenn Swan  59:53

Most pedal systems work perfectly well. I can’t say that there’s one that stands head and shoulders above by all of the others, I have personally been very happy with the speed plays where I can dial in as much free players I like, or as little, I was always aware of the fact that if you’re lifting free weights, it’s a lot different from lifting a similar weight on a nautilus machine or any other fixed travel machine. Because not only do you have to apply the force to move it, but you also have to maintain control and balance of it. So free play in a pedal system is not totally a good thing. Because as you are pedaling, you have to maintain the direction of force. Whereas if you have less free play, you are guided more around the pedaling circle, there’s less movement of your ankles, your knees, your joints, so more free to play is not necessarily more better. It’s just a little bit less efficient, because instead of just focusing on power, and having even some of your misguided power be properly restrained or guided into the motion of pedaling, you’re having to control it yourself. That might not be quite as clear as we would like, but I think you’d get the idea.

Trevor Connor  1:01:25

So we’ve been kind of dodging this question. So I’m just going to ask it one more time. Gloves, handlebars, handlebar tape?

Rob Pickels  1:01:31

Well, here’s what I’ll say. I think that and I was really surprised when when Larry started talking because he wasn’t wrong. I think it’s difficult to have universal recommendations. We can’t say this will always improve comfort. Even Andy, as you said, through research that you had done and then the various wedging right the inside of your forefoot being a little higher than the outside of your foot. That works for most people, but it doesn’t work for everyone. Right? So universal recommendations are really hard to make. What I will say is that universally, if you are experiencing discomfort, the Universal Recommendation is you shouldn’t just tolerate it, you should go through the process of figuring out why is that discomfort? And I think more often than not, the things that we do in the name of comfort are ultimately masking problems. Why do you need that thicker handlebar tape? Do you have way too much pressure on your hand, right? That’s a fit problem, not a handlebar tape problem,

Larry Meyer  1:02:37

just thinking of junior racers. In some of you 23 racers on road bikes, you know, a lot of times coaches will want the hoods of the bars to be up a little bit higher, so that they can get down on their drops. And they can be comfortable on that slanted portion of the drops. And that’s their insistence, but they sacrifice, you know, 70% of their race, just to so that they can sprint and feel comfortable. There’s these choices, these is norms that these people need. And I understand, right, it’s important, but you have to find somebody that knows what they’re doing, instead of just saying, you know, that’s the way it is. You have to find the balance, you have to have somebody asking the question about how long you riding in those drops, isn’t that important, because when those hooks are rotated back and your bars are dropped down, I don’t know if that’s doing so much for your palm of your hand or we know the orientation recital. Maybe this saddle is too nose down. So there’s all these different variables. I love it, because it’s big, huge puzzle and problems,

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:03:37

that there’s no free lunch. If you change the handlebar orientation, you’ve changed saddle pressure. And that also changes brake good position, which changes your ability to get to the brakes. That’s it. There is no free lunch. It’s all connected. I want to tell two stories, both on Tom Boonen, and the these are kind of out there. So I’m not breaking some.

Rob Pickels  1:03:55

I’m sure he signed his life away in some countries, I can tell this story so

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:04:00

So Tom had had a privilege a pretty bad season, he comes to us and fall camp with this goal of winning prairie Bay for the fifth time, fourth time, the next the next spring. And he basically the nd I’m a blank sheet of paper do with me what you want. And so we’re doing my do my normal exam. And the pressure of that is huge, by the way, right? So I’ve got my team of guys, and we’re all scouring over this thing and said, Tom, where are you on? 46 centimeter handlebars, humidity measured closer to 43. Maybe he’s in my junior coach, but me on these told me I would grow into them. So we actually went to 40 fours changed his aerodynamic drag significantly. Right? And he was way more comfortable. He said, I’m really tempted to go to 40 twos he would do that. If you see Tom who’s good. Tom Tom. Yeah, if a little is good, more would be better. Right. So we talked him out of it. We went to the 40 fours saved his aerodynamics significantly. So anyway, I think that bar choice is a there is a scientific start to the place, but shape of that bar. Material alloy is so rigid versus carbon. So if you go to Europe and you rent a bike and you’ve been used to riding carbon bars and suddenly riding aluminum bars and allow this bike is uncomfortable, yep, you but you’ve duplicated, you’re fed, it’s the material in the bar. Yeah, just like the material in the saddle rails, all these things add up right

Larry Meyer  1:05:27

now. That’s great point, absorption, access to your brakes. The form of your hand, I had a landscaping episode one I was in grad school where I was moving blocked with my, these landscaping blocks with my right hand for a day, the next day, I woke up and I had a non POM I had carpal tunnel. And, but it was quick, you know, I went to OT I worked at a clinic at the time and, and within three weeks, I didn’t have carpal tunnel anymore. But the rest of my life, if there’s a hand that acts up, it’s my right hand because that tunnel is just a little smaller. So you have to be knowledgeable of all these different things. And you know, sometimes it’s just maybe we’d get a different set of hoods. You know, this these hoods aren’t working for you.

Trevor Connor  1:06:15

I think there’s one other aspect or area of comfort that we haven’t addressed, and it’s not a contact area. But anybody who deals with this pain will tell you that this can end a ride, neck and back. What are your thoughts there?

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:06:27

Well, they’re both related to contact areas. Yes,

Larry Meyer  1:06:30

they are. So I mean, Andy knows this, you know, when you when you have that backward rotation, your pelvis, IANA improper saddle to narrow saddle or you’re falling off the back of the saddle, you’re going to create flexion of your lumbar spine flexion of your thoracic spine, and you’re just setting your spot your cervical spine up for failure, and that your thoracic spine is rigid. And as we get older, it’s just gets more rigid, because it just doesn’t move. And this is something that I tackle, you know, anybody that’s over 3035 is something I tackle every single time, which is for rounded shoulders, it’s just like a leather strap across your back, it just holds you down. And then your neck has to work against that the entire ride. And so you got to figure it out, you got to figure out getting them stable on the saddle, you got to figure out how they can best be on their saddle and not put their cervical spine at risk too low front end. It’s a huge comfort problem.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:07:24

I’m gonna set you up. I’m gonna tee you up, Larry. So I think both of those assuming the bike fit is as good as you can get it. I think both the low back pain and the neck pain are really off the bike things to address, right? I mean, so we all sit at our computers all day long. All dry. We all were, everything’s out here in front of us. So mean the door stretch opening up that front of your chat. There’s so many things. So a T jump there, Mr. Physical Therapist.

Larry Meyer  1:07:50

Yeah, I mean, it’s, it’s, we are in a state of Ford flexion all the time and tight I call it anterior but the front musculature of our chest is the key to this, right. If we if we have a tight chest, then you have, you’re going to probably resist any type of therapy that purports straightening out your spine. But it all does start with an ease. It all starts with the saddle, which you’re saying, again, Senator, the Fit universe center, the Fit universe, I agree, if your saddle is not in the right position, and if you were to longer reach, or if you have a nose up position, or to nose down position, same thing, you’re going to start altering the way that you hold your shoulders and old and hold your, your cervical spine, your cervical spine has to have room in order to operate. Right? It just does. And as we get older, we have less and less margin with our next

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:08:42

How do you address as a physical therapist, the fact that you know, it’s going to be a multi step process, the listeners are gonna want to know this, because we’ve just caused everybody to have an edge now they’re gonna want to scratch it. And yeah, and how did you How do you as a physical therapist, in private practice, deal with that multiple step by step fit process, right. So

Larry Meyer  1:09:03

you know, getting a bike fits expensive. And it’s hard to I don’t want people to ever look at a bike that as something that’s prohibitory for them to be on a bike. So you see situation like that you got to work with them, you got to try to figure out how you can make, make it affordable, make them maybe even say let’s end the bike fit a little bit early. And let’s have you come back and do some follow up. So we get range of motion as a physical therapist, I Yes. I’m going to sit there and say, can I get more range of motion of your neck? I can Can I get your thoracic spine in more extension and out of kyphosis? Absolutely. But it’s gonna take some time and you have to give realistic benchmarks. How long is it going to take if you can give them an experience leads to this right as well as that you have to be honest with your plan and make sure that they know exactly what is expected of them to make the difference because it has to do with them a lot.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:09:54

So it might go from a cash pay bike fit to an insurance covered PT program. Yeah,

Larry Meyer  1:09:59

you’re referral base is another thing. And that’s it, you’re trying to get them, you know, I believe in my life is my life, it’s not just a bike ride, right, so I want to have good neck range of motion when I’m blaming somebody at a rock climbing gym, and if I can’t have sort of extension, I’m not gonna be able to do it, or I’m gonna, I’m not gonna be able to sit at my desk and not have neck pain. So good referral system, good physical therapists, good options for treatment, good techniques.

Trevor Connor  1:10:25

So I gotta break up one last thing. But we’ve even talked about the bike itself. And I think that could be a whole conversation in and of itself. But the one statement I’m going to make, when people talk about my bike is really stiff, or my bike is really Flexi you can’t feel the frame, what you generally feel are the fork and the wheels. So those can be important components. So the last recommendation I’m personally going to give and like I said, there’s a whole much more we can talk about what the bike, if you care about comfort, don’t look online for the wheels that everybody says they’re really speedy and just order them ago, these you can make me really fast, because you might not like how they feel. I have a set of wheels that are really aerodynamic. I never race on them, because I can’t corner them. So it doesn’t really matter. So make sure when you’re getting your wheels for your bike, you got to try you got to go the shop, put them on your bike, see how they feel?

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:11:23

Well, one of the newer trends, which is great is less tire pressure right now. And so again, back to my leather shoes and wool shorts and leather shammies. We believed in 120 psi, Oh, guys doing 160 per time drop for time trials, we actually would inflate our time trawl tires with helium 250 pounds helium. For those who can make his lighter, right, they were tubulars who don’t have to worry about them coming off of the

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:11:53

Lord it but you talk about rigid, fully crowd. So the good news is now we’ve really proved that less tire pressure, keeping the tire in contact with the with the ground, whether it be gravel mountain or pavement is actually faster. And wow, more comfortable is probably

Rob Pickels  1:12:11

the only Universal Recommendation we can make. Just lower that tire pressure, you’ll be more comfortable.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:12:16

I’m riding 80 pounds on my my road bike race, right 120 I don’t even same tires,

Rob Pickels  1:12:20

I hate higher pressure, so much uneven ride road bikes anymore. Take that.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:12:25

I refuse to let anything, take away my love riding my road bike, but

Rob Pickels  1:12:32

I’ll suck the fun out of it for you.

Trevor Connor  1:12:34

My biggest disappointment of all those is when I was a cat five, the first bike race I ever won. I discovered after the race that my tires are at, like 70 psi. And I was like, I’m so strong, I could win the race at that tire pressure. Now I look back I’m like actually, that helped me actually contributed before we go to our takeoff. So let’s hear the final thoughts from Glenn.

Glenn Swan  1:12:56

For me, it just keeps coming back to stability and being able to not have to use muscles to hold yourself in position. If you’re holding yourself up with your hands, you tend to get tension in your neck and shoulders, which is more likely to cause numb hands than any kind of padding can protect. The companies would like you to believe that you need thick padded gloves to prevent your hands from going numb. But my experience has been that numb hands tend to be more a function of tension in your neck and shoulders that’s a result of poor bike fit than it is directly pressure on your hands or ulnar nerve.

Trevor Connor  1:13:38

So if I’m hearing you correctly, you can have the best saddle and the best handlebars in the world. But if you’re in a bad position, and you’re sliding down the nose of your saddle, and you’re using all your arm strength to keep yourself on the bike, that saddle and handlebars don’t matter, you’re gonna be very uncomfortable.

Glenn Swan  1:13:55


Trevor Connor  1:13:57

So you guys know where we go from here. We got our one minute take homes, and there’s a lot to cover here. So I don’t know where everybody’s gonna go. But let’s go around the room. What is the big lesson that you hope our listeners take from this with when we’re talking about comfort on the bike and duck Pro? Let’s start with you.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:14:16

I think that’d be repeating something I’ve said multiple times today already. Fit is crucial. The saddle is the center of the fit universe. And I think that performance and comfort go hand in hand. They do not have to be either or, and you can’t fit yourself.

Larry Meyer  1:14:33

I would say advocate for yourself meaning that so as a bike fitter i It’s my job to dig as much out of your brain as possible about who you are as an individual, off the bike and on the bike. But if you advocate for yourself with even the retail salesman in a bike shop, just let them know this is what I want. And this is what I want for an outcome. This is precisely what I want for an outcome I want to ride my bike and And I don’t want to have stress pots on my on my ride, and then continue to make an effort to find the experts that you can trust and always go back to.

Rob Pickels  1:15:10

Yeah, for me, it’s that comfort is not a bad thing when we shouldn’t look at it as a negative connotation. But that also oftentimes, the things that we do for comfort are probably just masking problems that we have. And so you need to begin the process to figure out why does that foot hurt? Why does your butter Why does your hand hurt or your neck hurt, and it probably means that you’re going to need help in doing that. Andy says, You can’t fit yourself. And here’s the thing. I have watched Andy Be Fit by other people. I’ve never seen Andy fit himself. Premier bike fitter in the world, asks other people to do it for him. So you got to take that advice. But yeah, chase it down, figure out why you’re not comfortable. Because finding that problem will ultimately make you faster.

Trevor Connor  1:15:56

Well go at last, I was really stressed about what my take home was going to be because I knew what I wanted to say. And like, there’s no way that everybody’s gonna leave this one for me, but you guys did. So I appreciate it a gift. And my take home is it is complicated. So we had in the outline here, let’s talk about comfort at the saddle, then let’s talk about comfort at the feet. And then let’s talk about comfort at the hands. And we couldn’t really do it. Because as you’re talking about what’s going on the feet you go and that’s going to make your butt uncomfortable. That’s going to make your hands uncomfortable. It all interrelates. So I think a really important message is your hands are hurting. It’s not a simple solution of go to the store, find a better set of gloves and you’re going to be fine. The problem could be coming from a completely different place. So you can’t just localize and solve it one place you have to solve it everywhere. Look at what the bigger thing is that’s going on. So guys, thanks for joining us.

Larry Meyer  1:16:49

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me today. Ben Great.

Dr. Andy Pruitt  1:16:52

Always fun to be here.

Rob Pickels  1:16:53

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual. As always we love your feedback tweeted us @fasttalklabs or join the conversation at Learn from our experts at or help keep us independent by supporting us on Patreon for Dr. Andy Pruitt, Larry Meyer, Glen Swan, Alex Howes, and Trevor Connor. I’m Rob Pickels. Thanks for listening!