Warning: This blog post discusses bike saddles and female anatomy…. If you don’t want to read about sensitive girl parts, you might want to skip this one.
I finally broke down and started testing different saddles for my road bike. Thus far I have been using the (male) saddle that came on my (men’s) bike, and although it hasn’t been awful, as the training ride get longer, it’s definitely not great. Alas, I am not in the place where I can afford both a professional fit and a new saddle, so I’m just trying to make adjustments as I can. Yes, yes, an official bike fit with lasers and computers and so on is probably a fun thing to do, but I just don’t have the money for it! And I’m not convinced that I need it.
What I am convinced I need, however, is a saddle that doesn’t hurt in all the wrong places. I’ve read the descriptions, seen the skeleton, understand the potential of soft tissue soreness and damage, know what the sit bones are and how they are supposed to sit on the saddles, etc. etc. I understand what the “gender specific” grove, cut-out, channel, notch, or whatever you want to call it that runs the length of every saddle, is supposed to be preventing and helping.
However… why do the aforementioned grooves or cut-outs only focus on the center part of the soft tissue – am I the only one who needs the pressure off the very front of my soft tissue?! I’m sure it means something; I think I arch my back enough that I’m rolled forward, thus I end up sitting on a delicate part that I’m equally, if not more, concerned about protecting.
So… I went into my favorite local bike shop, Revolution Cycles, in Clarendon, yesterday, and checked out a test saddle. No joke, they let you use a test Fi’zi:k saddle for a mere $5 a day! The men’s are a lovely solid bright yellow color, but thankfully, the women’s test saddle was a discrete gray.
I took the opportunity of joining the Sunday morning Rev Cycles group ride to test it out. (No, I did not do 66 miles with Team in Training Saturday then a 33 mile ride Sunday! I’m not that hardcore. I’d slept through yesterday’s Team in Training ride since I feeling under the weather and not up for 66 miles.)
The saddle felt fine, although I still felt the pressure in the most sensitive area. The Mechanic, who went on the ride with me, and I forgot to tip the nose down a tad at the pit stop, as we’d planned, but when we finally did stop and adjust, there wasn’t a euphoric feeling or chorus of angels to tell me I’d found the saddle sweet spot. Perhaps I just don’t know what I’m aiming for – what does perfect saddle fit feel like? Or does it not feel at all?
Anyway, we returned to Rev Cycles and I ended up buying a Bontrager saddle to test for a while. They have a flexible return policy (Thank goodness! How else does anyone test saddles?) – I have 30 days to test it out, and assuming I don’t A) hear the angel chorus or B) destroy the saddle, I can return it. Huzzah. We put it on Donner (my road bike) and I did a quick test loop around a few blocks. It felt pretty good, even though I wasn’t in my padded shorts. I definitely prefer the less padded seat, and although the groove isn’t very long (hello, help out a girl’s most sensitive spot, please!), it seemed fine enough.
The test will be on Sept. 7, when I do my next long TNT training ride; no ride on Labor Day weekend. If I’ve been lifted into rapture by the loveliness that is my new saddle, I might not be able to review it, but I’m somehow doubting that!
Until then, I’d love to hear what your experience with bike saddle fit and comfort has been, ladies. What has been your best and worst advice? Any suggestions for me? I know some of you spend a long time in the saddle, so what do you use?