Retül Premium Fit – Settling into the Saddle

If you don’t know this rider, look her up. If you do, then you know what a journey she has had over the years trying to find an optimal position on the bike. Everyone has unique needs on the bike, no matter their level of riding. Why? Because everyone is different! There is no one-size-fits all solution when it comes to bike fit.

As Ali Tetrick’s goals, fitness, and collection of two-wheeled adventure machines change, so will her bike fit. Not one to hold back, Ali tells us about her rider journey and how Retül has helped her along the way.

When did you get into the sport of cycling and how did that lead you to where you are today?

I can be a little bit of a “princess and the pea” when it comes to my bike fit. If there is something 0.2 mm off, I can tell you and I will fix it. Or rather, ask the royal “we” to make the adjustment. But I wasn’t always like this…

I got into the sport of cycling after college. I was a cowgirl turned NCAA tennis player before I fell in love with bikes, thanks to my Grandpa who was racing and winning well into his 80’s. He is proof that sports and goals know no age. He encouraged me to try bike racing. And so I did, and shortly after trying it I became a professional. My career as a pro launched with an explosive trajectory and I was quickly in orbit.

Soon after I entered my first few races, I was off to Europe to represent Team USA. Nothing like jumping into the deep end. Well, I learned a lot and some of it the hard way. Raise your hand if your struggles with clip in pedals led to hitting the ground!

I suffered seat pressure issues almost immediately. My saddle height seemed fine but the pain was real. I ignored it for years as a young pro new to the sport because I was worried about upsetting management or being perceived as difficult.

Carver uses the Retül Digital Sitbone Device to accurately measure Ali's sitbone width

When I finally scheduled my first Retül fit, I learned so much about my unique physiology and bone structure, as well as my accumulated injuries that were affecting comfort and performance on the bike.

Besides the broken pelvis, traumatic brain injury, strains, sprains and pains, and other sport related issues, I also have a leg length discrepancy. That saddle height that looks normal doesn’t work because my fit needs are not normal, and neither are most riders.

Finally understanding what was right for me changed my whole relationship with the bike. And I continue to get regular checks on my fit as injuries, fitness, and life changes my body and fit year after year.

That first fit, and all those that followed, have led to a beautiful and productive relationship with Specialized and Retül. I went from racing on the Women’s World Tour to diving into the emerging gravel scene with different bike needs and different geometries and participating and winning events such as Unbound 200 and Gravel Worlds (3x).

Needless to say, the distances of my races became much longer and the terrain bumpier. I was fortunate to work with Specialized in developing and launching the MIMIC saddle technology (My Mom is very proud as am I, watch the video and you’ll get why). This team believes in innovation and supporting the rider first. And as we continue to develop and research the best ways to make you more comfortable on a bike, now Retül Premium fit has launched!

What are are your current goals on the bike and how did you think a Retül Premium fit would you help reach those goals?

Recently, I flew to the Specialized Boulder Experience Center to have a Retül Premium fit with Todd Carver, Head of Human Performance at Specialized. Two new bikes, the Crux and the Aethos (yes, I know I am a lucky one), means two new bike fits. Each bike I own has a different geometry for their specific purpose, ride, and terrain, so my fit on each is also different.

Was there anything specific that you wanted the fitter to focus on before coming into the fit session?

When signing up for my Retül Premium fit, I was interested in checking out my flexibility and range of motion, and how that has changed the last few years from my increase in miles and time on the bike and the inevitable hitting the ground once or twice. I wanted to see if I had the optimal stack height and reach for performance and adapted to the bike’s geometry and purpose. I was also concerned about a new “’hitch and twitch”’ I had started making a habit of in my left foot pedal stroke.

What did you find most interesting about your Retül Premium fit session? Did you learn anything new about yourself?

Beginning the Retül Premium fit with assessing my personal flexibility and overall mobility helped us create the “Alison Standard” for my bike fits. Of course, we are all built differently, and we can fit into a bell-curve of data, but I think it is incredibly valuable to see how your own body is built to ride a bike.

Once Todd and I determined my data measurements, we were able to fit each bike accordingly. I learned I am more flexible than I thought, and my left leg provides most of the power and stability for my right. Not surprising with how broken that right side has been.

What were the changes made to your bike and how did those changes affect your position?

We brought down my stack and seat height and scooted the saddle forward to accommodate the tweaks. Not too stretched out. Not too low. Cleat position adjusted slightly for my left leg dominant twitch. Nothing drastic but after a few thousand miles on this fit already this year, I can say even this Goldilocks finds it just right. I am looking forward to continuing to monitor how each fit feels and bring in a MTB soon!

Do you think a bike fit is important as part of an overall training strategy?

Bike fits help reduce the risk of injuries and discomfort keeping you on the bike enjoying mile after mile. If you can set up your body in the most efficient way on each of your bikes, it will help with power transfer, efficient pedal stroke, and most importantly comfort.

I want to be able to ride my bike comfortably and challenge myself with new adventures. That is my goal. Just to keep riding and enjoy it. I like to have a low simmer of fitness as we call it (others might just call it solid base fitness, but I like simmer) to be able to peak as needed, but to also have the luxury of riding my bike at whatever pace and duration that I want. I put a lot of miles on my bike. From events to training to exploring. There is a lot of time on that saddle and in my own head. The Retül Premium fit keeps me aligned and comfortable with each bike and all the terrain and event challenges I tackle. Comfortable riders are happier and that makes you go faster. I promise.

 Why do you need a Retül Premium fit? Because life happens. And I keep going back to Retül to assess my current state. And now this process is even more focused on each individual. I have learned that you need a refresher on your fit every few years or for new bikes. Our bodies are constantly changing with age, stress, composition, and injuries. And changing handlebars, seatpost, or the whole frame of a bike can drastically change the set up to reach your optimal fit.

How was your Retül Premium fit experience overall and would you recommend a Retül fit to other athletes/ riders?

I highly suggest a Retül Premium fit for your performance needs. When we train so hard for event goals and personal records, we need to make sure we are setting ourselves up for success. The Retül Premium fit provides a data system designed specifically for YOU and all your quirks and tight hamstring and college injuries. I can’t guarantee they help with the emotional baggage you bring to your bike, but riding helps my emotional baggage. If they can help keep you be happier on your bike, then maybe a fit is a necessary part of our life therapy.

Retül Premium fit. Just think about it as your yearly appointment with your bike doctor. Which is ever more exciting if you have a new bike! Also, the next time you get hurt, take a lot of time off the bike, go through bike and life changes, go get your fit checked out. Remember, we want to be able to ride bikes! Riding bikes with confidence and comfort is the best.

Thanks Retül Premium fit. See you on the road, gravel, and beyond!

Pre-Fit interview
Digital Arch height measurement
Sacral Angle Sensor for Tracked Assessment
Tracked Assessment

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