Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Saddle Search

Ever since I brought Genevieve home from the bike store, I've been complaining about the bike saddle that came standard on the bike. It just wasn't comfortable. Half an hour on that thing and I was ready to call it quits, not because my legs were too tired to continue, but because my lady junk hurt.

I did what I always do and started googling. Turns out, cyclists have all kinds of problems down there. I found information about saddle sores, genital numbness, genital pain, and apparently men can even get erectile dysfunction because sitting in a saddle can compress nerves and arteries in their manly bits.

I continued googling and found out that not all bike saddles are created equal. I mean, they make saddles that don't have a nose.

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They make saddles that have a split in the nose, presumably to give your "soft tissues" some much-needed space.

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They make female specific saddles that are a little wider than men's saddles. This is because women have wider sit bones than men and may need a wider saddle to be comfortable. Many of the women's saddles I looked at had cut outs so that your girly bits don't get smooshed while you ride.

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I even found a saddle made by Brooks that comes in a sleek cognac leather and is pretty sexy for a bike saddle. Just sayin'.

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To add to the sheer selection, they make different types of seats for different types of bikes, some seats are cushier, some seats are firmer, some seats weigh more than others, some seats are modestly priced while others are ridiculously expensive. It seems like there are thousands upon thousands of options out there and there isn't a standard method of finding the right saddle for you. I kept running across forum comments where someone would ask for help finding a saddle that would work for them and at least one person would respond that "bike saddles are personal" and every cyclist has different needs. Apparently most people just keep buying bike seats until they find "the one." It's like dating, only instead of looking for the right personality and a great smile, you are trying to find the right fit for your butt.

I eventually found out that some bike stores can measure your sit bones and help you find a bike seat that should be wide enough based on your sit bone measurements. I tried finding a bike store in the area that had the tool, affectionately nicknamed the assometer by bike gurus. I didn't find any so then I googled "how to measure your sit bones." There were some truly complicated instructions about sitting on corrugated cardboard or sitting on a foam pad that will hold your butt shape until you can measure your butt print with a tape measure. That seemed like too much trouble so I sat on my hands and felt around for the bones in my butt cheeks then got a rough measurement for how far apart they were. I figured it wouldn't be perfect, but marking a cardboard box with my butt print didn't seem like a foolproof method either. As an aside, I'm pretty sure I'm going to regret this entire line of discussion when I see the google search terms that will now lead people to my blog. Insert exaggerated sigh here.

Anyway, it turns out that at around 177mm, my sit bones are further apart than average. I have a big butt so I was not surprised, but what's life without a few curves? Based on that information, I started searching for a bike seat that was wide enough to fit my sit bones. I kept coming back to the Velo Plush line of saddles on amazon and ultimately narrowed my search down to this one:

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Before I ordered it, though, I decided to take a field trip over to the bike store where I got my bike and make sure that saddle would fit my bike. They said it would, but then they told me they had a similar Velo plush saddle in the store and they would be happy to put it on my bike and let me try it out. If I didn't like it, I could always order the one above from Amazon. I thought try before you buy sounded like a much better plan than order, try, and probably not be able to return if you hate it because used bike seats are probably not hygienic. I would go into a detailed explanation of how some triathletes pee on their bike seat then rinse it off with a squirt from their water bottle, but I'm sure no one really wants to know all of that.  ;)

Long story short, the seat they had in the store was way more comfortable than the one that was already on my bike and about $20 cheaper than the one I was going to buy on Amazon. The one on Amazon looked plumper and cushier, but since there was a chance I wouldn't like it, I decided to buy the one they had in the store. I still have not had a chance to test it out on a long (for me) ride, but I'm hoping to take it out for a spin over the weekend. For the sake of my wallet and my girl parts, I hope it works. 

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