Saddle Battles

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Sep 042011
 

I’ve had it. I’ve tried several different saddles since first beginning to ride over 3 years ago. This is now my fourth season of riding, and somewhere during my first season, I purchased a very inexpensive gel seat. It’s heavy. It’s big. It’s not at all sleek. According to several “experts” in the field of cycling, these seats are not supposed to be any good beyond a 2 mile ride. Ha. They claim gels seats are quite painful upon which to ride. Ha!

Can you sense my irritation with these comments? Yeah.

Why?

Well, I’ve ridden on my Beloved Gel Seat (BGS) for several thousand miles…comfortably! However back in late June, my BGS developed a hole in the fabric covering. To say that I was merely “sad” just seems to make this development insignificant. Yet, I can assure you that it has affected my riding greatly since that time. One wouldn’t tend to think so, but it has. Granted, I haven’t shed any tears. No, nothing close to that. Although, the pain with which I’ve been dealing (intermittently) since the hole appeared has brought me close to tears.

Why?

Oh…I went and did something stupid. I tried to “conform” to what the cycling “experts” tell us we are “supposed to ride”. I tried to conform by getting something that was supposed to be “better for me” – a “real” cycling saddle.

Getting a picture, yet? No? Okay, let’s see if I can remedy that.

My Beloved Gel Seat (BGS)

Here’s the photo of my BGS complete with the newly developed hole. This seat makes for a rather pleasant ride. It’s soft. It has “give”. It has given me many (thousand) pain-free, comfortable miles. I have explored many new roads and “pathways” on this saddle.

My BGS has served me well, and I thought I was now done with it. I thought that by getting a “real” cycling seat that I was somehow graduating to the ranks of a “better” cyclist. Yeeeeeah, right. (Read on for the true target of that diss.)

Now to make this blog post more simplistic, let’s just go with a single exhibit (rather than many the examples of various saddles I’ve tried). Below, you’ll see a photo of the seat I’ve been riding for the past several weeks. I’m not going into all the bells whistles but suffice it to say that it is light. It has the largest center cut opening of any saddle on the market. It smaller, narrower, shaped differently, and most importantly, harder (much) than my current seat. I chose it (beside all the other reasons that it intrigued me) for the fact that it has the most amount of padding and gel than any other seat in this brand’s entire saddle product line. Furthermore, I even have a friend who has this exact saddle, and after trying so many other brands, she loves this one. So (after trying a several others), I thought this was the one.

Ouchie Saddle

I was eager to make this one work. I was certain that I could go through the adjustment period, natural to any change in saddle. I knew that it would hurt at first, but it shouldn’t be too much, nor last too long. That’s what I thought.

Well…you know what “thought” did, don’t you? Yeah, that. Except this was more on the metaphorical side, not literal (thankfully).

So with each ride, I found that I could endure this seat for longer periods of time. Once I got to the 50 mile mark, the endurance for this seat never got any better. I found that I had to take breaks off the seat, and I came to love rest stops for an entirely new reason – just so I could hoist my fanny off that saddle for longer than a few seconds.

It wasn’t getting any better. Yet, I convinced myself that I merely had to “get used to it” for a little while longer, and then, it wouldn’t hurt anymore. I did that through a 70 mile ride. I did that through a century (ouch!). Then, today was the last straw. I did the mountains, again. This was my third time climbing those particular mountains, and fountains of pain came pouring out of my body as if I were a centerpiece in an old Italian city.

Finally.   I got “my sign”.

I realized that the new developments (of pain and tightness) in my obliques and back muscles were a product of this seat. Furthermore, I found that climbing was made much more painful as result of this seat.    My.  Backside.  HURT.    (So did every nerve down there touching that seat that was anywhere close to my “sit bones”.)

Do you have any idea how much this will affect your ability to climb? Granted, I had another reason why this ride was uncomfortable, but the seat was the cherry on top. No, it was the whole damn cherry tree on top of that pain-filled Sunday. [Har, yes…today is Sunday, too. No, I didn’t plan that.]

So once I figured all of this out, I couldn’t wait to get home (and remove this damn saddle), find my old, holey BGS and switch them out! Enough with the pain. Most of all, enough with me trying to conform to what some schmoe cycling “expert” says that I should be riding. I want to enjoy my rides, again, and not have to spend so much mental (and physical) energy on “real” cycling saddles!

Far as I’m concerned? Those cycling “experts” can take their advice and shove it where the sun don’t shine. (pun intended) I’m doing what’s best for me.    :-p



Final notes – If you recognize this particular seat, I’m not out a “trash” the brand. Far from it. (I’m actually trying to get my hubby to try b/c I think he’ll like it better than his current – yep, you guessed it – “real” cycling saddle.) That’s why I never mentioned the name, and why I also edited the image to remove identifying insignias. I’m dissing “experts” who claim “cycling law” that you simple must do “this” or “that”. So, most cyclists do. Except what might work for “most” does not work for ALL. That’s my point. Follow what your instincts and what your body tells you – not what some “expert” claims.

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