I have known Danny for as long as I have been racing bikes. Not quite 20 years, from when I was a teenager. Danny had retired from being one of the best professional riders of his era before I could even ride a bike. Now in his 60’s and looking for even more Australian and World titles, he asked me to have a look at him on the bike.
Considered the Greatest 6-day racer of his time, with thousands of race wins across 5 decades – and Danny wanted me to have a look. I can’t begin to tell you how accomplished that made me feel. But it begs the question: What could I possibly improve. Its times like this that the system you use as a fitter has little bearing on my recommendations.
Danny knows what he likes, and he knows what feels good and right. He came to see me because the feeling changed. “Something” stopped feeling right, and he was chasing the magic feeling again. The feeling where everything just fired in the right sequence and limbs start getting torn off in his rearview mirror again.
In recent years, Danny had become more and more dedicated to gym and strength work as management for lower back pain. Danny still prepares his body for racing like the best professionals I know, and is in excellent shape, but had slowly become more and more asymmetrical with his pedal stroke. One leg stronger than the other, and had developed a pelvic rotation. None of this is new, it stems from the 1980’s when Danny broke his femur. Danny still carries a plate inserted to help the fracture heal and said that when sprinting or climbing, only his right leg delivered full power.
He knew that one leg was longer than the other, but did not have any accommodation for it. The difference was not extraordinary, but enough to promote one-sided dominance which causes the extended range of problems.
So what did the computer say?
1. Increase your reach – to which Danny replied “I only shortened this yesterday, ill put it back on
2. Seat height down and forward a bit – “I put it up and back yesterday”
3. 170mm cranks – “I’ve ALWAYS had 170mm, just this bike I put 172.5 on”
The truth is, Danny already knew all the right answers, and just needed someone to re-enforce that what he had done his whole career was right. I am very very proud to have been that person for him. We chatted, and I explained the science behind why he was right. Sometimes the best thing I can do for a client is explain and re-assure.
Post-Australian titles in a few weeks I will catch up with Danny and see what changes he’s made, in the hope he’s made the few changes we discussed, then left it alone. It might be that we need to plug him back in and double check the computer agrees again. The proof on if it’s right again will be a result of if he can feel the magic again, and I am very sure we can find it.