Solving Saddle Issues Slowly
Yesterday I took my seat back to REI. Funny story, my husband and I have been members of REI since 1992!!! If you knew us back then, you would be even more astounded. The closest thing to outdoorsy we were then was drinking on a deck or fishing in the river. Well, we did go camping a few times, but we always rolled in a keg or two. Which is how we became members. We needed a tent, so we stopped at REI. When we first walked in we saw this huge beautiful tent that held not only two cots but also a little table. We both assumed it was way too expensive. The nice man showed us around talking about how this tent could withstand this extreme cold and that tent could be hung on the side of a mountain. Really? So finally, we just asked, “What about that tent?” It was way across the store.
“Oh, you don’t want that tent. That’s just like a party tent.”
Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding!!! And it was only $99! SOLD!!! Our first shared property. Oh and by the way, a few years later when we were camping in the Keys our “party tent” was the only one still standing when a huge windy rainstorm went through!
Flash forward twenty two years later and I am actually trying to buy something athletic, and speak intelligently about it. There is no party tent equivalent for bike saddles. And apparently there is no way of knowing whether a bike seat will fit you until you ride it. REI suggests that you ride it for a couple of weeks before returning it. I don’t know if it is just for members but I have 365 days to return the seat. The membership is a lifetime membership and only costs $20 so well worth it. Anyway, the man at the bike shop in REI – and I wish I would have gotten his name – was knowledgeable and easy to talk to. Considering I was there to discuss how to find the right bike seat for a woman, I was hoping to speak with a woman. Not to be sexist, I just wanted someone who had similar parts. He suggested I move the seat forward and down by about a centimeter and then ride for about a week. He also said, it shouldn’t hurt, but it may take some getting use to. He said it could take up to three weeks to become use to riding on a new seat.
So this morning, with my newly positioned seat and my bike shorts only and the Hoo Ha Cream I was off biking. Here’s the thing about the cream, it is like putting on IcyHot in reverse, so it gets really warm first and then cool. And then I forgot about it, so I highly recommend it. And my ride was incredibly more comfortable, but not quite there yet. I am planning on moving my seat forward again, and maybe up a little. My butt felt the pressure of the seat, but after ten miles although it wasn’t comfortable it didn’t hurt. And it doesn’t hurt now, which I think is a big deal. So I will try again. I will say that I wished it was more cushioned since my butt is far from boney and it felt like my bones were drilling into the seat. The seat I am using, by the way is a Respiro Moderate. It is not the cheapest, but it is not the most expensive either. And I really want it to work.
This weekend I am going to try for 24 miles, if I can find a time to fit it in. That would be the Art Museum Loop three times. I think I can do it, and I think I will know for sure by then about this seat.
REI has an incredible return policy and this is probably one of the best examples of putting it to good use. A bike saddle is hugely important for how comfortable it can make you, or how awful a ride can be with the wrong one. And the saying “one man’s treasure is another man’s trash” applies here in spades.
Some bike shops have a device you sit on, that measures the distance between your “sit bones,” which tells them how wide the back of the saddle should be. I don’t know how well this works as I’ve never used one.
Also, some bike shops have demo saddles, meant to be lent out to customers for a week or two at a time to help find the right one.
It sounds like you’ve found the right one, so I guess this is mostly academic.
Thanks, Kate. I do know some shops measure you, I didn’t know about borrowing seats. The truth is, I am still undecided about the seat. I am hoping to take a couple of long bike rides before I decide. I do appreicate REI’s return policy.
I didn’t know you were such a biking enthusiast. Where do you bike?