Susanne Davis
Fit for SpeedMonday, December 31, 2012

I’ve always been intrigued by the triathlete that spends thousands of dollars on a bike or pieces of a bike to make it lighter while riding in a sub-optimal position. When I became a coach I really started to pay attention to details like this to help clients get the most speed and power out of every stroke to achieve a PR.

My first triathlon was on a borrowed bicycle. I couldn’t believe how many people I could pass coming far back out of the water. It felt so fast and I wanted to do more. I bought my first road bike for $200. It was a 58″ Aluminum bike that was more than two sizes too big for me. It’s what I could afford and I thought if I could reach the handle bars comfortably and my knee’s didn’t hurt then it was a good fit. Funny, but that’s why triathlon is a fun, addictive and a growing sport. One can always learn more and improve on something. In 1998 when I lived at the Olympic Training Center I had been sponsored with a custom bike! The team of experts “Fit” me professionally for the first time with pedals that could measure how much power I could push during the up and down stroke during one 360′ rotation. My bike split times started to drop and it was all due to a bike fit and the right size of bike.

There is no piece of triathlon equipment more analyzed than the bike. From Aero water bottle systems, Carbon fiber cages to Titanium bolts, we are all looking for lighter and faster. FREE SPEED. Every gram of weight saved by equipment can easily be trumped by a better position. I’ve always thought of position as important but I simply had no idea how much, until now. The last two weeks I had to ride one of my old $5000 triathlon bikes due to my Quintana Roo CD01 getting shipped to Mexico via TriBike Transport for my Ironman race in Cozumel. I could tell instantly that my body was not as efficient. The more “comfort” position I was set up with on my previous bike means nothing if you’re only engaging your hamstrings soon to be used for the next 26 miles on the run.

I discovered that 85% of the energy you exert is used just to get your body through the wind. In other words, if I’m producing 200 sustained watts, only 30 of those watts are moving me forward. What if I improved my position by just 2%? That’s 4 watts in addition to the 30. That’s more than 10% improvement in the watts used to push me forward. Now that’s some FREE SPEED.

Enter, Nes Rodriguez and Retul fit system. For those who haven’t seen Retul, you need to. For those who have I have advice for you. You are only as good as your fitter. Retul is the most advanced measuring system in the business, hands down. However, the person, Nes is the fit system who owns StudioDNA in Carlsbad, CA. His education, experience and knowledge is both in the bike and the body. Dozens of measurements need to be interpreted.

Nes’ had his work cut out for him. My Quintana Roo was fresh out of the box from Team Timex. We built it, fit it and an hour later Nes had some advice I didn’t want to hear. Send it back it’s too big. I had been working under the assumption that we wanted to replicate last year’s machine. QR sent me a smaller frame and we started with a blank piece of paper that etched out to the picture above. This year I only had the chance to race 2 times due to an achilles injury. In the Sprint and Olympic distance triathlon races I cut 2 mins off my bike splits from last year on my Quintana Roo CD01. Sunday I will see how much TIME will be saved in an Ironman Distance!

Fit=Free Speed=Qualifying spot for 2013 Kona Ironman World Championships!

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