Danny Clark – THE Danny Clark

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.


My Feet aren’t straight, is that a problem?

I often write off the back of customer enquiries post-fit, when they leave, but are left with one of the concerns they had when arriving. I have a favourite quote, that I first heard from Nathan White of Cobra9 Cycling Podiatry – “If you are pain free, I can not make you more pain free”.
Especially when it comes to understanding feet, it is vert important to know when to fix something as preventative medicine, or accept that the imperfection actually IS the preventative medicine.

Ill focus on heel/crank rub in this article and try to explain that it could be both acceptable (or unavoidable) or unacceptable depending on the client.

Crank Rub the the obvious side effect of a heel rubbing against it during the pedal stroke, and usually means that the rider’s toes are pointing away from the bike. It can also mean that the entire foot is so close to the crank arm that it’s rubbing at the forefoot.
Determining where the shoe is contacting the crank is obvious based on where the rub mark is on the crank.
Investigating whether it is bilateral or unilateral (both feet or just one) and if the heel is inverted by the same margin on each side is where I begin from a diagnostic view point.
If it is unilateral, then we are looking for a different set of solvents than when it is bilateral. Often, unilateral foot misdirection is a component of pelvic dysfunction and leg length.

Bilateral is usually a component of Q factor or an obstacle that is forcing the legs out evenly each side (could be hip flexors, pregnancy, or misalignment with cleat lateral placement).

Heel rub in a bilateral form is actually a GOOD thing. Its not the best thing, but its not detrimental on its own.
It the hip and knee need to travel away from the bike because of an obstacle that can not be overcome through positioning, the heel moving toward the bike allows the knee to move away from the bike without twisting the knee. The ankle can do this movement well, as can the hip. If we decided to lock the foot straight, but the knee still needed to travel away from the body because of a pregnant belly, the knee would be the component that would have to twist. I’m not an orthopaedic surgeon, but I can tell you that knees don’t like to twist.
That is not to say that there arent other ways to reduce the distance the  knee travels away from the body, but in some circumstances its not entirely detrimental for the foot to be perfectly parallel with the bike.
I use a standard range of lateral travel (knee movement left to right) that I consider to be acceptable, but this is a massive topic that deserves its own article.

Unilateral dysfunction is much more of an issue, because there are many more components to resolve. This often comes with a significant leg length difference, or pelvic rotation that sends one leg away from the bike, and one toward the bike.
Clients with this sort of dysfunction usually present with knee pain and one sided back pain, and though the solutions are quite simple, they take time to reach a solution. Adaptation takes TIME. Though there is usually some instantaneous improvement, it often takes a couple of weeks or months to reach a complete solution.

I do use (and have used) cleat wedges, but its very rare for me to install them these days. If you have an actual FOOT issue, I will suggest that you either use some quality off the shelf shoe inserts, or some prescription orthotics suitable for cycling (different to your every day devices). Something I replace regularly are cleat wedges installed to try and deflect the knee back into the bike, when it is an obstruction or any number of hip issues. If you have had cleat wedges installed, I would be seeking an understanding as to why they are appropriate, and what the underlying problem really is.

Then there’s the muscular component that can lead to the knee lateral travel which can be easily assessed, but I would refer you on to a physio to seek resolution (another big topic).

It’s quite difficult to self diagnose which course of action is appropriate, as it is very difficult to see this relationship from on top of your bike. That’s where a visit to your local friendly fitter can be beneficial.


Then vs Now – has much really changed?

Then vs Now – What has changed in bike fitting within my lifetime

I have been playing with the principals of bike fit for nearly 10 years, and riding bikes just short of 20, so it would be completely fair to say I am not new to bikes. I started young and had enough talent as a junior to be afforded some advice from the best within our community at the time. What I realise in retrospect, is that the general principals of bike fit have not changed, but the accuracy has improved as have the definitions.

The Basics circa 2000 vs The Basics 2017

Legs not too straight at the bottom of the pedal stroke, limited hip rock.
Leg extension between 180-35deg and 180-40deg where the dorsiflexion of the heel is between 65 and 75 degrees (heel drop).

Knee should be over the ball of your foot at 3 o’clock with your foot parallel to the ground.
Head of the fibula should be within the range of 10mm behind to 10mm in front as an average (across the 2pm to 4pm component of the downstroke) to the 5th metatarsal head.

Ball of the foot should be on the pedal spindle, (except sprinters who need their clips on their toes)
5th metatarsal head should align with centre of pedal axle as the riders natural rate of plantarflexion within the downstroke.

Cranks were associated with height.
Measured hip flexion to reduce the stress on the hip flexor while also maintaining leg extension/leg flexion range between 70 and 75 degrees.

Back nice and flat.
Neutral spine inclusive pelvic rotation without compromise or curvature.

Make sure your handlebars obscure your front axle.
Reach (between greater trochanter-acromium- styloid process of the ulna) between 80 and 90 degrees.

Torso as low as you can bear and still ride the drops.
Torso (greater trochanter to acromium) at between 35 and 50 degrees to horizontal depending on hand position and spinal postural capabilities.

You can see that in the basic form, the year 2000 version of bike fitting was actually not inaccurate, but the range of placement was very broad because the definitions were broad.
New systems that measure all of the angles and placement have not reinvented biomechanics, but they have made available high accuracy and tighter tolerances. This new-found accuracy is easily defamed if the method of measurement and the points measured to and from are inaccurate which is why making a point of clearly checking and rechecking the placement of your measurement markers through the process to ensure they have not moved.

The newfound niche that is “Professional Bike Fitting” are professionals dedicated to understanding the relationships of each angle and the effect of compromising in one aspect to improve another which is key to the preferred result. The final position is a result of the diagnostic process, and key goals and outcomes as outlined at the beginning of a fit.
No different to the bygone era, the best people are the ones who can have the most inclusive overview of the athlete and the result. Specific goals that align with the best treatment for the client.
In setting the position for a new client, the practitioner forms a prescription of angles that compensate for or align with particular necessities, and we would call the first position a datum-position or an initial position. The difference between a particularly good fitter and an average one, is the negative side effects of the prescription. Like any doctor, getting the dosage of compensation right, and adjusting the prescription may be necessary.

From the data recorded and the new side effects of the initial position, modification can be systematic. Progress can be measured. It is entirely possible (as with any clinical science) that the client does not react as expected to the prescription, but through a symptomatic review the ailments can be adjusted for as time goes on.

The specificity makes it easier to adjust systematically, but the machine doesn’t do it on its own, all it does is outline the operating angles, and the practitioner in their wisdom then applies the prescription based on their experience and education.

So with this in mind, the same train of thought should go through your head as it did when I was a boy. Align yourself with the best experience you can, and no matter what technology is available, the need for experience will never change.


IM Busso – Getting Schooled

Standing on a beach with 1600 other people staring out to the end of a jetty, I had to wonder…..
What encouraged 1599 other people to want to do this? 3.8km swim, 180 ride, 42.2 run.
I didnt ask anyone else, we all had our reasons. Mine was to understand Ironman, first hand.

I had been in Bussleton for 2 days, and had spent a little time previewing the course, and in my head I knew what I was doing.

Throw arms in circles lots of times, Ride bike, then run. But I had NEVER done a triathlon before. Never swam 3.8km either. The power of self belief was key to the day, and as I stood there with sand between my toes, I consciously thought that I wanted to suffer through that day. The entire point was to understand the suffering, to make me a better practitioner.
As made famous by “The Secret”: Ask and the world delivers. Suffer I did.

0400 WA time, Up and out of bed. I had a truckload of food to eat and only half an hour to do it. Lucky for me Jenni was onto all the other stuff that I should have been doing for myself.
2x Ham, cheese, tomato, avocado sandwiches and a Sustagen meal replacement. Pretty typical pre event food for me, and that would be more food than I usually eat in a day when I am at work.
This is the last time this week I would walk normally!

At the Start: 0500
Tyre check, Bottles full, bike check, battery check. All sweet, and everything is running perfectly. Usually, I so ill-prepared come race morning, I am trying to find somewhere to buy a sandwich or googling the race course…. but lucky for me I have My Jenni.
Side effect of having My Jenni is we are now an hour and a half early before the race start and I have the opportunity to think about how today will go. The loud voice is saying “You will be fine, Hashtag Killingit”. The little voice is saying You are about to be digging some serious holes. I hope we survive”.

On the Sand 0630
Getting a wetsuit on, in public, around my calves….
Again, lucky to have Jenni and the advice from Anthony from Volare.
We all queue up against the gate to get into the starting compound. No less than 10 people looked at me puzzled and asked “What are you doing here? aren’t you a cyclist?”.  All I could do is smile and say yes. You can’t call yourself a triathlete until you have done one. I don’t think I said another word in the last half hour, instead I was trying to see what the Pro’s did off the start line.

Lined up with the crowd, right there in the front row. With 1599 better swimmers than me right behind me.
0700: Show time
I had been told that the mass start is like a washing machine. In hindsight I think I would have had more of an idea where I was in a washing machine than i actually did while I was swimming. I was swimming fine, noting that the pink caps were more ambitious than me (read aggressive). The last time  I was swimming in a race would have been nippers, but somehow it seemed familiar.
Other than losing my goggles at some point, the swim wasn’t nearly as difficult as I expected. 66 minutes for 3.8km is at least 10 minutes faster than I expected.
Out of the water and my legs were Jelly, and my throat felt burned from the salt, but happy. Very happy actually.

IM Busso Swim

IM Busso Swim

Transition and a welcome smile from Jenni as I exit the water, and find my way to the change tents. I must have been the only one getting in proper bike kit.

“Sustagen, Hydralyte, Bannana bread. Eat as much as you can!”
Getting out on the bike, was comforting. This is my sport, and this should be the good part of my day!
And in retrospect it definitely was. I had a goal of 220w and stuck to it for most of the day.
I kept my brain engaged by analyzing every position I passed, and keeping notes to the km count. I had a plan. Every 10km do 20 pedal strokes out of the saddle. Drink every 5km, 220w.
Its amazing how fast time does when you have the little things to keep yourself amused.

Other than a drafting penalty for overtaking a group too close to them The bike was good to me.

IM Busso TT

IM Busso TT

Almost the entire point of today from a personal perspective started at the end of the bike.
In the position I would prescribe for myself as a client, how well can I get off the bike and run!
This is where  I was pleasantly surprised.
I ran 6min/km off the bike and was itching to run faster.

This may not sound amazing (because it really isnt a fast run speed) but I had no idea what so ever how the ride would effect my run!
The answer is: Not one bit.
I could have got off the bike and easily run 5min pace (which is flat out for me). I didnt because 6min pace was the plan.

Bike-fitting 1
Nay sayers 0

This doesn’t mean I can run…. It means I can get off the bike and not feel invalidated.

1400: The run

The first 10km of the run felt too easy.
The second 10km I started feeling GREAT. I started running my normal run pace.
23km: somebody switches on a blender around my internal organs.

IM Busso Run

IM Busso Run

I’ve put my body in some pretty terrible positions before, and can read it pretty well. But this was one second to the next. As if I was the subject of someone’s voodoo doll.

“Walk, Crawl, Toilet”

Body shaking, vision blurring, guts cramping.
“This too will pass”

Over the next 6km I would walk. every medic that saw me asked me if I wanted to sit with them for a while. the crowd were checking on me if I was ok, and NO, right that moment I was not ok.
But this is what I was there for, suffering like everyone else. I was not alone. I was growing empathy.

After a few attempts my body stopped shaking and I could visit the mens room with some success. Within 60 seconds i was back to running again. Maybe not so much running but shuffling.

Run Pace

Every step hurt now that my body was cold, and somehow I gained energy with every person I passed. I would offer them some encouragement (the same as I had recieved) and they would run some more. This gave me drive, All I needed to do was finish.

The last 6km was a formailty. “Left foot, Right foot” and by far the most satisfying 6km of my life.

The chute, the crowd, the announcer. Yes, I was an Ironman, but more than that I now knew what it was to suffer through an Ironman.



The most educational 12 hours of my bike fitting career.
Another lesson in suffering

What a perfect day.


Undertrained: Foolish, Brave, Prepared

Its 7 days today since my first Tri, and my body is letting me know I was right.

Ironman deserves respect for its magnitude as a physical effort.
Training to do an Ironman deserves to be very difficult.
Undertraining and still doing the event is very foolish.

Bussleton is quite easily the hardest event I have ever done. There was this one time on top of a volcano in Indonesia where a 230km stage finished with a Hors Catagorie climb in altitude, and the people at the top had never seen caucasions before; But its a far away second.
As a lifetime Cyclist, I had always pledged to do a full IM event at some point in my life. Bike racing isnt always exciting for me, and especially with my personal focus being on building a business and a life, training has taken a back seat.
Life seemed to be settling a little so I entered on the assumption that I would have some spare time to train through winter.
Fast forward 6 months from that commitment and I have done a total of 55km running km’s + the 42.2 that was part of IM busso.
I had seen a pool 11 times for a total of 25km and 2 open water swims for another 5km.
I had ridden my TT bike less than 500km and a total on the bike of less than 3000km for the year.
I trained 2 times in the 2 weeks leading to the event.
I ingested a parasite and was medicated for it up to the night before.

Never done a triathlon.
Never done the training.


Ill skip forward to the point where I admit that I finished the event in 12 hours (and 40seconds). Its one week past and I can confirm no major injuries and other than general lethargy from overexertion that has continued through the following work week.
I have had plenty of time to think about how stupid it was to do an event SO underdone in the training stakes, and its been said that I have been very lucky not to have done myself an injury or worse, in overestimating my ability to start. I prefer not to believe in luck, but instead will justify my ability to finish with what I did right pre-event.
All of my swimming concentrated on technique, not fitness.
I invested time in getting the best technical advice for wetsuits you could hope for (via Anthony from Volare (https://www.volaresports.com/)

Position 100% dialed in for my current inability. Best possible choices for the condition I was in for the day. Not the ambition I had when I committed to the event.
Power meter and strict discipline on race day to stick to the plan.

I spent 5 appointments with David and Nathan from Cobra9 Podiatry (http://www.cobra9.com.au/) choosing the best shoes and orthotic devices.

Brett from Megabake Kitchens (http://www.megabakeenergybar.com.au/) came up with my nutritional plan for the day.

I had my wonderful partner Jenni and Sports Psychologist Craig Pearman (https://www.facebook.com/GCPPsych/) as well as the on course motivation of my first coach, Geoff Frost.

Tenacity was my friend on the day, but the point that has really hit home for me, is that I did do SO much right that athletes often forget. Training is by far the most significant portion of preparation, but in my case, the technical aspects that I dedicated my time to were enough to get me through.

I would estimate that I spent 20 hours on the details like Bike-fit, event psycholoy etc, and had I invested that 20 hours training instead I doubt very much that I would have finished.

So my point in telling you about how under prepared, and foolish I was,  was to highlight that those things that are considered 1% to some, were valued much higher than that to me on the day. With a sample size of 1, and an injury total of 0, I would ask, are you best spending your time and money? Can expensive carbon wheels give you a technique to cope with adversity like a Sports Psych can?
Can money be better spent with the performance outcome being the goal?

The professional technical advice was everything to me on the day, and maybe it should be part of your preparation for your next event too.


The worlds UGLIEST bike

There are plenty of rules surrounding bikes and what is popular convention. Personally, I think I hate the rule that says you need you stem “slammed” at all costs.

Slammed: stems bottom edge directly in contact with the lowest possible point on the fork steerer. No spacers.

The rationale for many is that this is “Pro”. The irony of that train of thought is that very few Pro riders ride that low in the front, and for them it is always function over form.
Insisting on having a slammed stem, or even contemplating cutting your fork before having your fit completely dialed in, is a very dangerous exercise. Once its gone, it doesnt grow back.

Your bike might look pretty to some while it is leaning against a wall, but if it is too low for your capabilities it can singlehandedly ruin every single dynamic of your bike-fit, and make it the ugliest bike moving. And isnt that what its really about? Riding bikes?

Beware the common conventions, and please apply some logical reasoning behind why you are making choices that effect bike fit.

Other rants in further blogs will refer to the convention of sock height, bar tape colours and chainring choices.


My event is this weekend – PANIC

Today is Tuesday.
Bussleton Ironman is THIS WEEKEND.

I’m looking in the mirror, and I don’t like what I see. I see a body under-trained.

20 times a day fo rthe last 2 weeks I have thought about 3.8k swim (If i can swim straight), 180km bike, and 42 point 2 kilometers on my feet.

I can hear the Cliche’s runing through my head. “trust your training”, “you’re there for the experience”.

Even though I have competed in hundreds if not thousands of events, for some reason Ironman has a completely different feel, and it feels GOOD. I am so very grateful for this experience. Let me explain exactly what experience that is though:

I looked at my bike. My very own bike, and thought: “Should I change something”.

That is a phone call I have more than once before every single Australian Ironman and 70.3 race, and now I thought it too. Lucky for me I can talk to myself in third person sometimes, and I gave myself a strong talking to. That moment of reflection is priceless as a professional.

I cant wait to get as far as I can, and enjoy the experience of absolute empathy from the first stroke to the final stride.

And IF i fail, I will have empathy for those that have also not succeeded the first time round. In any case, it excites me how much better I can relate to my Triathlon clients after this, when I already feel like I have some much more understanding before I even start.

Everyone will find something different for themselves through the journey, and I look forward my day.

For those in the same boat, now is not the time to be changing anything. But feel free to call me and talk it through.


When You Move Your Hips, Just Like This

This ties into “The SMP effect” but is true of anyone who aspires to a better posture on the bike, and less back pain.
Mrs Skeleton in the video below demonstrates the change within the pelvis (concentrating of the difference in femur head placement) during the forward bend of the torso using correct technique.

Sadly most of my clients do not bend forwards in this fashion. Most will retain the vertical placement of the pelvis and bend entirely through the lumbar, creating an acute bend in the back (Sydney harbor bridge back).


Spinal pinching points illustrated


Making reference back to the initial video, as you rotate the pelvis forwards:
1. The femur head moves rearward. This will also draw the orientation of the knee backwards.
2. The hamstrings are under much more preload (stretch)
3. The distance between pedal and the top of the femur is LONGER.

Without adapting the components to suit the improved rotation, its a fools game to think you can maintain that posture.

With the femur head moving rearward, the saddle needs to come forward, as a direct compensation.
With the hamstrings under so much more load, the back angle needs to be raised, unless of course the athlete has a high range of hamstring flexibility.
The saddle needs to be lowered.

And this is all only to maintain the original orientation of lower limbs around the pedal stroke! We haven’t even talked about improving that relationship, only allowing for the anterior rotation to be possible at all!

Posturepedic saddles encourage this anterior tilt, but in my opinion should be a practitioner dispensed item, as there are a lot of variables with the suggested posture that the saddle would dictate.
I regularly see people who have bought SMP saddles, who hate them due to improper installation and lack of compensation to position when installing.

SMP saddles in particular have the ability to allow incredible anterior rotation, and as a byproduct require a very forward saddle position. This is due to the femur head orientation being rearward AND the purchase point of the pelvis on the saddle being much more rearward on the saddle itself.
The actual relationship of the lower limbs to the pedaling rotation is not further forward than the average Joe, but the saddle is a long way forwards.



With the ability to tilt your pelvis forward, comes a great benefit in pelvic stability and leads to power production. More accurately it minimizes loss.
More important than that, by reducing the severity of the pinching point in the spine, comfort will obviously be increased.

The complete solution then has the reach properly adjusted to ensure the headweight isn’t being lifted by the lower back, rather, borne by the arms and hands.


The SMP Effect – Part 1

Ask anyone who has gone to see a serious Bike-Fitter, and they will probably will often say: They wanted me to change my saddle. I almost re-financed the house to pay for it.
And honestly, there’s every chance they are talking about me.
If you don’t want to change, that’s ok. But I will do my best to show you what your current saddle is promoting, and why I suggest SMP (and other posturepedic saddles).

Max Keane Before Fit

Max Keane Before Fit

Monarch of bike fitting, Steve Hogg, also shares the same opinion, and its not a difficult relationship to understand. Your ability to sit in the best exit angle from the saddle (torso position/anterior pelvic rotation), relies on you pushing your most sensitive parts towards the saddle. Nobody wants to hurt the second most sensitive part of the human body (behind the ego).
Without anterior pelvic rotation, and by sitting on the widest part of the saddle with the widest part of your pelvis, all of the forward bending motion is done by the spine.
In short, you are generally doing a great job to mimic the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

Typical response will include:
a) I used to go numb, but not any more.
b) But mine has a cut out, see.
c) But that doesn’t match my bike.

a) you probably had great posture to begin with as its natural, and have ruined it in order to stop your pain
b) Your cut out isn’t really the same. Kind of like offering someone the world and handing them the atlas.
c) I don’t care what matches your bike if it meets your expectations from my work. The ugliest thing on a bike is an ugly position, and the ugliest thing of all is a bike in the garage because it hurts the rider.

Max Keane After Fit

Max Keane After Fit

Im sorry posturepedic saddles cost as much as they do, truly. But my promise, is that its better for your on bike posture than 99% of saddles on the market.


Expectation Management 101

In my initial line of question apon acquainting myself with a new client, I ask a pretty open question.
“To consider today a success, what would we achieve or what issue would we solve?”

Particularly in the more race orientated clients, the responses regurgitate the slogans and cliche’s the bike industry has made famous. More power, more comfort, increased efficiency and more aero.

In my position, sometimes people are looking for a miracle, and when they wake up tomorrow and they arent as powerful as Lance, or as aero as Sir Wiggins, it can be somewhat of a let down that they took half a day and a few hundred dollars to not have their expectations met. Well let me tell you something the industry seems not to propagate too well: Everything you seek takes a whole lot of WORK.

My position in the industry isnt to sell you the latest thing to make you faster, or cooler. Its to make sure you dont do yourself any unnecessary damage through injury. I am here to make sure that all the WORK you do, is accumulating to be a great result.
Key recruitment is a significant part of power production, and more importantly, balanced recruitment keeps you from injury.

In a responsible position for your ability, together we can WORK towards that position that’s fastest for you. But here’s a hard truth. Its a lot of work to look as good on a TT bike as Wiggins, or as smooth as Robbie Mcewen. And sometimes ,my client need to realise that their dedication to all aspects of their body maintenance, does not deserve a world class pro edition position.

Now I can hear you thinking: “He just told me that he cant make me look as awesome as I think I should look, just by moving my bike parts around”

Nope, No I cant. What I can do is seek the best your body has to offer, and WORK with you long term towards that position we both want you to be in.

I don’t sell snake oil, and I don’t oversell my magic conjuring abilities. Im here to work with you to be 100% as capable, functional and extrordinary as your body is capable.  Not what someone elses body is capable of.