Everybody is different. There is no average body that takes on an endurance event. That is why we need modifications, whether in nutrition, training, or (like me) a whole bike system. In my case, the bike is the easiest, and most obvious, example of modification and customization.
My bike has gone through many evolutions over the years. When I first became half-paralyzed, all I could think about was getting back on my bike once again. However, my balance was shot. I despaired that, according to doctors, I would not ride again. It was then that I found the recumbent trike. This trike had two wheels in the front so it could deal with my lack of balance.
I still flipped this trike over but that was because I was daring!
Next, I found that with intense practice, I was able to regain enough of my balance to ride a 2-wheeled bike if I was careful. My mountain bike, with its thicker tires, was retrofitted by my husband to have all the controls on the left hand side.
I spent months practicing in the grassy area behind our house to get the hang of controlling everything with my left hand.
Third, It was time for me to get back on a road bike, mainly because my goals now included getting my coaches certification and to compete in an Ironman 70.3. This modification took a little bit of creativity by my husband and me. We knew that we had to modify my bike with a dual braking system along with both sets of shifters on one side. The best way to describe the system that we came up with is creative! As you can see below, we also had to use a mountain bike handlebar with a road bike since the right hand will only hold on in the prone (facing down) position. I also needed the extra space because while I had come so far with my balance, the mountain bike handlebars created a little bit of a tripod with my glutes, which I still needed.
The final evolution came just two weeks ago. This season, I decided to make the switch from triathlon to competitive cycling. After investing in a competitive road bike, I already knew that it was going to be a challenge to fit everything on to one side with smaller handlebars. I took it to my local tri shop. Although they had never modified a bike quite like I needed one done, they undertook the challenge and the final evolution was finished!
Modifications can be hard. They may take time and practice (video of my first time on the new road bike). Be it equipment changes, nutrition changes, or training changes, you may need to get creative. Consult with your endurance coach or trusted and knowledgeable third party to look for ideas and find solutions that work for you!