3.06.2010

3 Cheers for a Happy Butt!

I found out the hard way that the wrong saddle can really put a damper on one's cycling enjoyment. The saddle that came with my bike (Cannondale Raven saddle) was a better overall shape and size for my needs, but had sort of domed, squishy padding that had me poorly supported and put pressure on places where no woman wants it.

After reading some reviews I thought the Selle Italia Lady Gel Flow sounded like a good candidate--after all, it's essentially identical to the Terry Butterfly saddle--the best-selling women's saddle on the market. But, as I have found with a lot of running shoes, just because it's popular, doesn't mean it's best for me (Asics is the top-selling brand of running shoe, but I have never found a single Asics model that worked for me, either).

The Selle Italia saddle is 160mm wide and "pear-shaped." My sit-bones appear to be in the 120-130mm range (based-upon several unscientific measurements using a flexible measuring tape). Most recommendations for proper saddle fit suggest that one should have no more than 10mm of saddle beyond the outer edge of each sit-bone. So my 160mm saddle was likely at least 10mm too wide. Perhaps this wouldn't have been so problematic by itself, but with the more gradual flaring from nose to butt area meant that the saddle was cutting into the backs of my upper thigh area with each pedal-stroke.

In addition to that issue I had to keep scooting my butt back to keep my sensitive frontal area from being squished and pinched against the front of the cut-out. Instead of the cut-out offering relief from saddle pressure it was probably causing more issues...numbness, pain, raw tissues--even after just a single hour in the saddle. Hubby was convinced that once I got on the road that this would be remedied, but after asking some fellow female riders about my issues it was pretty unanimous that discomfort and injury should not be synonymous with rides using the indoor trainer.

After some further research I decided to give the Specialized Body Geometry Jett saddle a try (in part because Specialized offers a 30 day satisfaction guarantee, so I knew I could return it if I didn't love it). It comes in 3 sizes (130, 143, 155). Most women fit the 143 and my own rudimentary sit-bone measurements suggested that was a good fit for me, as well.

I have completed 2 1 hour rides with this saddle and cannot believe the difference in comfort. No pain, numbness or raw skin up front--even without Chamois Butter. My sit bones are happy, and I don't need to squirm around on the saddle much at all, since my sit bones are actually being supported by the widest part of the saddle without my having to keep scootching back. Nor do I feel the need to get my butt off the saddle so frequently--the areas that need to align over the cut-out are aligning properly. And no upper thigh/butt chafing, either. The narrower nose is also comfier for this girl with chunky thighs.

The only discomfort after yesterday's 1 hour ride came in the form of a 3 mile progression run. Man, do these brick workouts make my legs feel like Jell-O for about the first mile!

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