F.I.S.T. Workshops (What really happens here?)

Above and below are images taken during a F.I.S.T. Bike Fit Workshop. F.I.S.T. Is the bike fit system that identified and coined the terms “stack” and “reach,” terms now ubiquitous in the world of cycling. Stack and reach appeared first here on Slowtwtich in 2003. These were the keys that unlocked prescriptive bike fitting, that is, matching a rider’s fit coordinates to the bikes he might ride.

F.I.S.T. Is arguably the first fully dynamic bike fit system. It contemplated the use of a fit simulator that adjusted in an x/y axis both front and rear. During the very first F.I.S.T. Workshop in 2002 attendees were schooled on the system but were told the unfortunate truth that the fit bike necessary was not yet built.

The first to be built were bikes made by Exit Cycling. Following these came bike by GURU, Purely Custom, Shimano and others. Several fit bikes of different manufacture are featured during F.I.S.T. Workshops. Fitters intent on purchasing one of today’s modern fit bikes are encouraged to use them all during a F.I.S.T. Workshop, and then an informed customer can buy the tools that best match the profile of his or her fit practice.

Currently F.I.S.T. Workshops owns and uses 3 different models of Purely Custom fit bikes, one GURU fit bike, and an Exit Cycling fit bike. Several motion or video capture systems, both real-time and after-the-fact, are either in current use during F.I.S.T. Workshops or F.I.S.T. is working on new and enhanced version of these systems with their manufacturers.

A F.I.S.T. Workshop is 5 days in length, Monday thru Friday. Monday and Tuesday are devoted to road bike fit. Wednesday is pedal/shoe interface day and we bring in a third party to teach this. Thursday and Friday we teach triathlon. The workshops are true workshops: short on lecture, long on practical.

When we say “workshop” we mean workshop in a true sense. Most of the fit stations are set up in a workshop, not a room in an office complex! It’s funky. Seating are chairs and couches.

We do more here that simply teach and learn about bike fit! Attendees can bring their own bikes or we keep bikes on the property for use. We have both road and MTB bikes and groups of attendees and instructors can leave daily for either.

When we reference workshops that take place “here” where is here? It’s in the hamlet of Valyermo, a small valley of ranches and orchards that sits about 4000 above sea level. It’s on the backside of the San Gabriel Mountains. These mountains separate Los Angeles from Valyermo.

The Amgen Tour of California “found” this area when the Station Fire devastated a part of the San Gabriel and new routes were needed. The City of Palmdale enlisted us for help in finding replacement routes and we suggested this area. The first half of the final stage of the 2017 ATOC traverses the course we recommended, just in the other direction. The 2017 Tour marks the third time ATOC has passed through Valyermo.

Valyermo is also proximate to the Devil’s Punchbowl road races and Southern California’s State Time Trial Championships. Most F.I.S.T. Workshop attendees stay at a bed & breakfast owned by Mark Montgomery (Monty on the Slowtwitch Reader Forum), and his bed & breakfast often hosts pro triathletes and pro cycling teams for training camps, overnight visitors participating on our local races, and camps produced by coaches, retailers and club teams that come from all over the world.

Ian Murray appears in a lot of the images here. He's a lead F.I.S.T. Instructor, a partner in Slowtwitch Coaching, the coach of the L.A. Tri Club, a coaching instructor for USA Triathlon and an instructor for GURU's own fit school. Busy guy.

F.I.S.T. Bike Fit Workshops only rarely occur off-campus. The property is called Xantusia, named for the xantusia vigilis, a lizard that lives where Joshua trees are found. Xantusia is both the F.I.S.T. headquarters Slowtwitch headquarters.

Attendees of the recent F.I.S.T. Workshop, and who are featured in the images above:

- Holger Roethig from Kultum.de, a fitter from Essen, Germany
- Chloe Murdoch, a physical therapist and fitter (Podium Multisport) in Atlanta
- Alan Caballero from Burlington, Ontario, Canada
- Tyger Pliska and Michael Sather from Western Bike Works in Portland, OR
- Jennifer Schook, a physical therapist from St. Louis, MO
- Taylor Norton from the Bikery in Bradenton, FL
- Patrick Guillame of Bikefit.lu in Luxembourg
- Tommy Johnson and Ben Drezek from TriShop Plano (where everyone is F.I.S.T. taught)
- Gabby Gomez from Britton's in San Antonio
- Jessica Bratus (a workshop returnee) of Bikefit-MI in the metro Ann Arbor