By Robert Thorpe
‘It’s not all about the bike – it's also about the feet!’
Tim Dejonghe- Background
Let’s get things out of the way before we start; ‘Bike Power’ bike-fitting service centre is based in the very heart of Belgium. And, as we all know, that’s at the very heart of European cycling. Add to this that Tim Dejonghe, joint owner, is a former rider (pro), with experience too of working closely with World Tour team riders, and you’ve got a bike-fitting service that ought to be listened to. Speaking with Tim recently, it was truly enlightening to hear how many cyclists out there are having issues with their cycling shoes and bikes.
First, though, a bit more detail about Tim’s background. He was part of the peloton until his mid-20s, when a serious accident caused significant back injuries and forced Tim to re-assess his racing career. Doubting the level that he’d be able to race at, Tim made the switch to a more technical career within the industry, and worked initially on the Shimano Service Car on the pro tour, before joining the support team at Rabo-Bank. His analytical skills and technical knowledge were soon picked up, and Tim was given the task of checking and fitting the TT bikes and team riders, looking for those minor changes that make those important marginal gains, and which ultimately produce faster cyclists.
Pain Isn’t Always Gain!
Interestingly, while talking with Tim, he mentioned a recent time when he saw a large group of ordinary riders resting during a ride. Over 50% of them were seemingly altering their shoes, obviously due to pain or discomfort. In a country where cycling is so popular and taken so seriously, that’s a high percentage of riders using the wrong shoes, the wrong cleat, or the wrong bike set-up. It’s not just the average cyclist that suffers due to these issues though. In conversation, Tim recounts a particular Tour de France, when a rider Tim was working with complained about his badly fitting sponsored shoes, saying to Tim, “My feet are hurting so much. What can I do?” Quite often, that burning pain felt by many cyclists is caused by shoes that are too narrow and too tight, with not enough volume.
Tim took the renowned sponsored shoes away, made some adjustments to allow the feet more comfort, form and less restriction, and the rider loved it, performing so much better in the race. Analysing this, it becomes obvious that pain is definitely not always gain, and can be a significant problem in performance. Those burning sensations we feel, may be related to badly fitting shoes and not our passion for cycling. In the instance highlighted above, the Tour de France rider had:
- Incorrectly fitted shoes that were way to small and narrow for his feet; and
- Incorrectly positioned cleats.
Both of these are issues that our Lake Cycling retail partners, such as Tim at Bike Power can easily resolve. Which is why we love working with them – because Tim and the team at Bike Power love looking after your cycling feet.
Bad Cleat Positioning
As a bike-fitter, Tim is always looking for the natural foot action of each rider. Too often, riders simply fit cleats too far forward, meaning that they’re left ‘tip-toeing’. This is fine in a sprint, but we’re not always sprinting. Lake Cycling shoes have the opportunity to position cleats in a variety of positions, with a longer cleat line on the sole of our shoes. This allows specialist fitters such as Tim, greater scope to get the correct cleat position for you, and to maximise power and performance, whilst reducing pain and inefficiency.
Tim says that he loves this cleat option about Lake, along with the variety of shoe widths available across the numerous cycling shoe models. For him, it’s about building the bike for the rider, and then fitting the right shoe, with the cleat in the right position. He describes Lake as being “a brilliant shoe to work with, as it has so many options for the variety of feet on riders.”
Bike Power Favourite Shoes
High on Tim’s list of shoe favourites is the Lake CX / MX 242, with its articulated panel upper, carbitex support and ability to mould the heel and keep it firmly in place, removing slipping during the pedal action. Remember, we’re looking for a rhythmic flow of the foot during a pedal stroke, not a tip-toed and pointed tread. To achieve this, we not only need a good cleat position, but a firmly fitted and comfortable shoe helps – which is what the Lake Cycling 242 does better than any other available cycling shoe. It’s a shoe specifically designed for problem feet (read previous blog here).
For Tim, it’s not simply about getting the bike fitting you correctly. Having the right shoe, in the right size is equally important. His own 3 key points are:
- What do I want from bike;
- How should the bike fit me; and
- The feet and shoes.
His 20 years of experience at the highest level are clearly evident as we chat, and I’m left fascinated by the detail and level of intricacy and analysis of this former pro rider turned bike-fitting Jedi-master. Here at Lake Cycling Shoes, we strive for perfection in comfort and performance. We want you to join you on your next cycling adventure. Why – well, simply because we know that with the best cycling shoes in the world, and with Tim’s dedicated professionalism, you’ll have a hell of a ride!
In terms of his own riding, Tim was a huge fan of the Lake CX 403, with its moldable options, lightness and power transfer. However, following his partner, Ellen van der Goor’s lead, he’s now a huge fan of the Lake Cycling CX302, which he describes as having “superb support and comfort, whilst also looking great!” If Tim were to give cyclists some general pointers across the vast Lake Cycling Shoe range, it would be:
- For the pro rider, the Lake CX 332 Road Cycling shoe;
- For the sprinter, the Lake CX 403 Road Cycling Shoe;
While he himself rides in comfort and performance, and with added style, in the 'Metal/ Black’ colour version of the Lake CX 302 road cycling shoe. We think Tim deserves it. After all, his burning passion is taking away that burning pain in your own cycling feet, in partnership with us here at Lake – the world’s best cycling shoes.