Thursday, September 4, 2014

How Do I Squat?

A great question.

This is not a post to provide benefits of squatting or to talk you into doing so.

Motivation comes from within and if you have arrived here you have likely already decided to squat so let's get on with it.

I have many fit clients and PT patients who have no idea how to squat and nobody has every showed them!

I had some trouble finding a comprehensive video on how to squat for those NOT able to do so already. A plethora of things can limit squatting and in this video I try to take a systematic and logical approach.

I will likely revise this a bit but it turned out well.

Please take a look and if you have feedback I welcome it

johnkarrasch at gmail dot com

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ready to shred. Iron Maiden style.

Man...busy few weeks.

Fits are coming at me fast and furious. I'm busy, but happy Flex Fit is working out so far. Couldn't do it without Melissa. She's awesome and and always listens to the crazy ideas I have brewing. I have some new stuff for you mountain bike folk that is pretty killer if I say so myself.

Others seem to like it as well...

Did a quick ride to try out my new fit from John Karrasch.  I already had my CX bike fit by him and thought he might be able to help me out on the MTB.  Since he has a professional background in physical therapy (he is a physical therapist 40 hours a week), and is also a total bike geek, he seems to understand the intersection of the body and bike better than most bike shop folks.
We made some fairly substantial changes to my fit, especially shortening and widening the cockpit on my bike.   
Honestly, I'm a bit shocked by the difference it made.  Can't believe I've been riding around way too stretched out for years.

Thanks John.  Look forward to getting my road bike fit by you.
I usually caution people of an awkward period post fit while getting adjusted but sometimes it feels pretty solid out of the box. I'll take it.
Road, cross, mtb and all the other disciplines all have their needs and I'm happy to apply my knowledge to the best of my ability to get you moving and riding more efficiently. 
If you wanna get in you can get all my info on the sidebar to your right or go to the FLEX FiT site.
On the racing front, I'm sure some of you remember the Burn 24 was awesome. Now it is sadly no more.
Chainbuster Racing has you covered with the upcoming 24 Hours Of Iron Maiden! Great people and great trails. Can't or won't ride for 24? No prob, plenty of duo and team options. Hit the link HERE and go get in while online reg is still open. See you there!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Flex Fit Testimonials

"The verdict? The fit has made me feel dramatically better on my cross bike. My handling is wildly improved as is the back pain. It has taken me a few weeks to get 100% adjusted to fit, and during that time I’ve been backing off the intensity but still doing longer road rides on the cross bike and the difference has been noticeable and pleasant."    

"The exercises were good and I liked that you included the YouTube channel. I'm more of a visual learner and it helped me to remember what exercises I needed to be doing. My fave was the one I can do on the couch that stretches my quads/hip flexors. I can do it while I watch tv :)"

"John Karrasch has a bike fit business now. I went and had one done yesterday and was pumped about my new setup when I left. Nothing against any bike fits that I've had done in the past, but John's was unique combination of his PT knowledge, years of bike shop know-how, and real world application. It was more than just millimeters, the guy is thorough. Took 3 hours. He even gave me a list of exercises to do at home to help fix my goofball riding style."

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Jerry Gerlich Bike Fit and Austin trip

Melissa and I went all the way to Austin, Texas this past weekend for a bike fit! Here is the how and why of it all...

I have had my Fuji Roubaix now for a few months and it has been a good bike so far. Nothing fancy, just a solid road first one in about five years I would guess!

I have fiddled with the position here and there but due to the fact I cannot watch myself ride some things were not quite dialed in. I knew I was close but needed some help.

Whats an obsessive bike fitter to do? Find another obsessive bike fitter of course!

My experiences with traditional fits have been disappointing to say the least and one of my inspirations for finally getting my own fit business started.

I came across Jerry Gerlich of Castle Hill Cycles in Austin, TX through Steve Hogg's website. Steve has an amazing mind and a boatload of common sense on his website. Some of it may seem a bit out there but it holds up to the important question, "Does it work?"

Anyone that has ever had a bike fit or is thinking of getting one should read the Perspectives on Fitting article on Steve's site. Read it. Trust me. "Pro bike fits" are not all the same and range from great to quite poor. Choose carefully.

I have felt best on my bike through setting myself up based on comfort and advice from Steve via email. Steve has only trained a few people in the world and Jerry happens to be one of them! Steve only takes a select few fitters to train and there is no guarantee you will pass if you go train with him. Those selected to train with him stay for three weeks of learning. I hope to make the trip to Australia in the next few years to train with Steve myself.

Melissa was nice enough to get me a fit from Jerry for my Christmas present this year and we had a great trip out to Austin aside from a mild panic over a broken starter in downtown Austin.

The Castle
Jerry is super knowledgeable about all things bike and body related. He knows his music pretty well too. The gym at Castle Hill Fitness next door to the shop is probably the coolest one I have set foot in. Tons of free weights (sorry...) and Pilates equipment. There are a variety of yoga and indoor cycling studios in the building. There is also some wild Jacob's Ladder contraption people climb which fortunately I didn't have to suffer on!

Equipment inside Castle Hill Fitness
Jerry had me warm up on a Total Gym squatting tower with very light weight and listen to some music while he measured my bike. Afterwards he showed me some of his methods of measuring and I even learned a couple new tricks to use with my own fits. I warmed up for a few minutes on the bike and did a brief time trial at what was supposed to be an 8/10 effort. I hit it a bit too hard and barely made it two minutes but he now had a good idea how my body functioned at high intensity. He briefly went over with me some problems he noticed with my position and how they were affecting my body.

Next we went through an extensive off bike analysis of how my body worked off the bike. This is one of the most important parts of the fit because limitations in your body's function and symmetry can really limit on bike performance. Despite my current holiday beer gut I am still fairly flexible and stable so I did pretty well on this portion. Jerry did find some areas I can improve on to be more stable while riding and I look forward to integrating his suggestions into my off bike exercise routine.

Before I got back on the bike, Jerry did some testing to determine leg length and posture to make sure I was functioning as well as possible before we went through the rest of the fit. Turns out I have a right leg that is a bit shorter than the other and this was playing a role in my pelvis tilting to the right under high load. We went through some of the "weird stuff" that Jerry learned from Steve in Oz which made a significant difference in my symmetry and posture. One of the longest sections of the fit was optimizing my cleat position and foot correction which includes proper arch support and wedging to tilt the foot to where it is most stable on the pedal with no pressure points. This helps optimize proprioceptive feedback to the parts of your nervous system that coordinate the pedal stroke.

Just from the foot adjustments I was more stable on the bike and felt more powerful! I was still dropping that damn hip and while I left the room Jerry made some adjustments to the bike. He didn't tell me what they were but when I got back on it felt different but good. We did another time trial and the hip drop was gone. The stability was further improved as well. We did a quick adjustment of the bars which I had pretty close but they were now more comfortable. Road bars are way harder than mountain bike bars to setup!

We went outside and I did a couple hill climbs to check everything out. Looks good, feels good...I was happy. Jerry did one last measure of the bike setup so I have a reference in case I ship it anywhere. Six hours later and we were done! The time totally evaporated while I was there and I was pretty damn tired when we were done.

Overall it was a great experience and totally worth the trip. Jerry offers a great approach to bike fitting that is individualized to the client to get them as comfortable and efficient as possible. The fact he offers a money back guarantee made me confident in his methods and I felt like he really wanted to help me and not just line some stuff up to make a buck (quite a few bucks really haha...). He wasn't worried about my knee or hip angle while pedaling. No goniometers or plumb bobs to set me up. No plugging numbers into a computer to get a readout. No fancy motion capture. Everything was done by him watching me ride and making adjustments to improve my function on the bike. Cool stuff! I did a ride on the rollers yesterday and felt comfortable although uncoordinated in the new position. I plan on doing some easy rides the next few weeks so my body can reprogram as needed.

Austin itself was a great town. Cool stores, avocado margaritas, barbecue trucks. I'd go again. We also stopped at Mellow Johnny's Bike Shop on the way out of town which was fun. Bit of bicycle sensory overload there.

Guy with a cat on his shoulder

Mellow Johnny's fit area

Huge shop

Rapha envy

All Lance, all the time

LA LT100 bike

Awesome Project One commuter

Old Lance tour bike

TT and barely ridden madone

Fastest bikes in the shop

Trek fixed gear conversion. Campy Record cranks

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Flex Fit for Cyclocross? Sure.

Bike fitting can be a complex puzzle to solve and becomes even more so when the high intensity and technical handling demands of cyclocross racing are added to the mix.

Here is a review of my fit process by Andrew Boyd, local fast guy and Team Momentum racer.

Off-season fit | Team Momentum

For those of you interested in fits, more information can be found here:

Flex Fit

Sunday, December 1, 2013

2013 Oak Ass 50/100 Blog Post List


Brian Toone

Scott Thigpen

Jacob Tubbs

Gretchen Mcelveen

Jeff McCord

Jan Jenkins-Ardovino

Tracy McKay

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Oak Ass 50: What I Learned by Jan Jenkins-Ardovino

If you told me two years ago at this time that I would be riding in a 50 mile mountain bike race, I would have thought you had seriously lost your mind. I had just started riding and thought lake trail out and back was a big ride day. The first time I added snake trail to my "out and back" I bragged about how many miles that was. But here I was two years later sitting at the starting line for a 50 mile race. Over those years I had met two girls, Holly Carmichael and Gretchen McElveen who became the catalyst for my cycling goals. I blame (give credit) to them for my new addiction. If one of them suggests something I have to try it even if it sounds insane. We are all a little competitive like that. But I think Oak Ass was my bright idea. Gretchen was in because we both wouldn't miss a race on our home trails but couldn't convince Holly of this endeavor, this year. We'll work on that for next year. (At one point Gretchen proposed 100 miles, but I think she was delusional that day or something.)

Having never really done anything quite like this solo I had grand plans of training etc. But hence real life sometimes gets in the way and it was just bad timing this year for proper preparation. But I was still was determined to see if I could ride 50 miles solo, even though I had not ridden more than 30 in over 9 months. Not really a good idea but I set a goal of 6 hours and not to die.

In the weeks before the race I had a nagging lower back issue that I really couldn't shake, so I was worried it would be a problem. And race morning my back was hurting before the race even started. But I was excited anyway and had Gretchen and Jeff McCord from my team MG&G doing the race also so there was no way I was going to bail! I would have taken way too much grief for that.

My race itself was rather uneventful the first lap. I have learned over the races that I have done this year that you should always try to be the first in the woods. I didn't use this strategy for this race since it was 50 miles thinking it wouldn’t matter. NOT TRUE, especially on courses that you are more familiar with than others. (And yes, I ignored good advice on this) I was surprised that at the start everyone took off and I caught the entire group at the entrance to seven bridges and was bottle necked. Wet slick roots were tripping a lot of riders up. So until camp road I was in a pace line it seemed. I decided to take the first lap at a pretty easy steady pace just to get through, hope it would ward off lower back trouble and make sure I didn't wear my legs out too fast. But alas, by the time I got to Jekyl and Hyde (JNH) it was time for some more Advil, so I knew it was going to be a long day. Shockingly though I passed quite a few riders on the technical part of JNH which put a big smile on my face. I love technical stuff. Then the climb up Peavine, and I was passed by one rider that I passed on JNH. But only one caught me. That was actually quite an accomplishment for me. And I caught another rider. Another huge accomplishment for me! As I finished the first lap I knew I just had to survive the second.

My legs were OK but there was no way my back was going to let me push too hard. I could spin and the pain was tolerable but too hard and "no go". Gretchen and I "pitted" about the same time. I had really hoped to keep far enough ahead of her to get out of the pit before she got there. (Sorry Gretchen) Pete Foret was grabbing our camel backs off of us and refilling while we grabbed our pb&j's. Pete, who always has a car full of anything you can imagine, had a thermo wrap thing that I put on my back to see if it would help. Gretchen tears out of the pit saying "see you at JNH". While I love my cycling friend we are competitive and it’s every man for themselves during a race. So I hated that she was gone before me, but thought I may be able to make up some ground on technical stuff because she would kill me on the climbs. Well that thought was short lived when I somehow had a nice crash on seven bridges. I still don't quite know what happened but taking a handlebar to the armpit was quite painful. And the calf cramp had me leaned against a tree trying to get the knot under control. So no way to catch her now! (BTW...Mitch Moses seemed to come out of nowhere to help me on my feet and hold my bike so a belated thanks to you!) I decided just to ride out the last lap to finish.

 I had no idea who I was racing or where they were but this was going to be a personal accomplishment for me and I needed to treat it as such. I was alone for most of that lap. So I began making a mental list of "Things I learned today" to keep my mind off of my back and arm! Here are items that I can remember from my list:

1. I have got to figure out what the heck is going on with my back.
2. I am not too bad of a technical rider. But I hate climbing.
3. I'm glad I still have a triple on my bike.
4. I really want a full suspension bike!
5. I may have been too old to start this sport.
6. I would like to ride an endurance race and not be lapped by Brian Toone (as he went around me topping Pevine falls road on my second lap and his third. He did say Good job though. But then Lee Neal, as I’m about to go up Johnson’s, says “Hey Jan, Brian Toone lapped you.” I yelled back “It’s on my list!!”)
7. I wish I could get a different song in my head. I like "Some nights" by Fun but I need a new song. (And the Mosh up of the Lords Prayer, Some Nights, Third Day and counting pedal strokes is really a weird mix.) 8. I count my pedal strokes. Why did I do this??.
9. Is eight Advil and two Excedrin too many?
10. This is all Holly and Gretchen’s fault.
11. I will not quit. Monty Morris will never let me live it down.
12. I'm glad I have family obligations or I would have to race a cross race tomorrow because if Gretchen and Holly do it then I will have too.

There were many more, so it’s clear that my mind was all over the palace as I finished that lap. On JNH (I passed some more riders, happy day) someone was behind yelling at me. I thought I was in his way so I said go around. He yelled back "No way, I'm following your line!". I think that is one of the best compliments I have ever received!!! I met him after the race and he told me he had walked some of that on his first lap and he got behind me on the second and got through it. I coasted to the end at 6:20. Not my goal but I finished. As I went over the finish line someone said "I'll get your timing chip you need to get to the podium. You’re fourth.” I was so confused. I walked my bike over to the podium and was handed prizes. I still had on my gear: helmet, camelback etc. The picture is priceless to me. I may not have accomplished the goals I had originally set for myself, but I learned a lot during that race one of which was stubbornness will trump pain. Later Jacob Tubbs said “That was pretty much the most badass podium walks I have ever seen!” (I have to admit, I usually think the superfast guys don’t usually pay much attention to us slow pokes, so that WAS the best compliment I have ever gotten!)

As I sat with my friends waiting on some 100 miler friends to finish, I devoured some of the best stew I have ever eaten and we all told stories of our day and cheered other riders on. I was already thinking of the next big race I will do. I love this sport and the friends I have made. I may not win, but I’ll have fun trying. So a huge shout out to all of the organizers (I was glad to finally officially meet this legend, John Karrasch) and the Birmingham mountain biking community. You rock.