Saddles: Why you probably need a different one

As I’ve written before, I very suddenly became a road bike owner. I had gone in with the intention of just looking; just trying one out. A few hours later I held a receipt in my hand and a bike was being ordered to our local bike shop. The bike arrived while I was on vacation. I picked it up and then almost immediately began three weeks of work travel. So I had bought a bike and hardly had a chance to ride it.

After squeezing in a handful of 25 to 30 mile rides between work trips, I was wondering if maybe I needed to get into better bike shape or at least more accustomed to riding a bike for so long. No, my legs didn’t hurt. Sure I got a little winded on an extended, gradual climb, but who doesn’t? No, my ass was killing me. I had bought a pair of bib shorts (a story for another day) and yet still felt like the bike was crushing my non-existent balls. Why was this so uncomfortable?!

I stopped by the local shop where I had ordered some bottle cages and mentioned the seat problem. Turns out, most people are better off trying out some other saddles that fit them a little better or provide a more comfortable ride. And as a woman, it seemed like the standard, stock saddle that came on my bike (though it had a little channel) provided an unnecessary amount of pressure where pressure should not be felt. I’ve been pretty pleased with my unisex/men’s bike purchase, but perhaps the unisex saddle is not so unisex after all. The point is, and what was explained to me at the shop, if your bike is hurting you, go in and have it adjusted/parts swapped out. While people say that cycling gives you lovable pain, they’re not talking about knee or butt pain. Your muscles should burn after a long or aggressive climb. Your hamstrings and quads should feel like they’ve been given a good workout after a descent sprint,  but you should be in PAIN pain.

I’m not going to recommend a saddle as that’s a personal preference. We’ve all got different butts and our butts have different needs. I’ve ended up with a really inexpensive Liv saddle that has a little more cushion on the front/nose area. The shop lent one to me and I was able to go on three longer rides before coming back, with a sigh of relief, and ordering it.  Eventually I’d like to try and find a retailer that carries the Fi’zi:k women’s Luce saddle, but at $100, it’s a little more than I want to spend at present for a saddle. Let’s not even talk about the $200 price tag for the carbon version. I’d also ideally like to test ride the saddle before committing that kind of money, but I haven’t found a shop that has the women’s one.  Point is, if your shoulders hurt, your bars might be too narrow or too wide. If your knees hurt, you might need to go in for a good bike fitting. And if your lady junk is being crushed in the saddle, follow my lead right on down to a bike shop and find a new saddle. My 46 mile ride may have left me light headed from lack of fuel, but my bottom was just fine when I got home.

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