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  1. #1
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    Athena Introduction and OMG What Have I Gotten Myself Into?

    Hi All,

    38-yr-old "Athena" here. Down to about 227 from 275 last August (go me!) after embarking on a supervised total lifestyle-oriented weight loss program, and a couple days ago, after nearly 6 months of oggling and drooling about getting a bike, I finally brought home my '14 Specialized Dolce Elite Compact. Huzzah! I was originally going to get a hybrid, as I suspected a more upright stance would be easier to ride and would be better for my bad lower back, but my test rides on the flat bars left me with super-sore sit bones. The balance on the road bikes seemed to take a little of the pressure off, and it didn't seem to exacerbate my lower back pain at all (got a little stretched, but felt remarkably better the next day).

    I've only done 2 short rides (first one 0.8 miles, 2nd one 1.8 miles, according to Strava), and while I feel like I could have plowed through more mileage between my legs and lungs, my ischial tuberousities were so, so tender. It's really discouraging. I spoke with the bike shop guy about it a little when I was buying the bike and he suggested I keep the stock saddle for a bit, and that I might work into it. And of course I still need to schedule my formal bike fitting. But is it bad, bad news if I can't even ride for 2 miles without being in a lot of pain? I would understand if I felt pain after a half hour or so, but it's basically uncomfortable from the very get-go and it swiftly (within 10 minutes) becomes intolerable.

    If anyone has any experience with suffering through the sit bone issue in such brief rides? Do I need to relax and give it more time? Should I just expect to have this severe pain and a bruised behind until I toughen up a bit? Or are there prophylactic measures I should take NOW to make it better? Also, because I'm so new to cycling, I'm a little lost about the whole bike fit process. I'm not really sure what to expect. Thanks for any help you can offer!! And I'm excited to be on the boards, formally! (Been lurking as a guest for a bit)

  2. #2
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    Congratulations on the weight loss and the life style changes!!

    Well I suspect the sit area will toughen up in a little while.

    As for a bike fit they will take some preliminary measurements and adjust the bike. Then they will put the bike on a trainer have you sit on it and pedal a little while watching you. Then they will make some adjustments to seat height and for and aft positions, handle bar height and maybe change the stem for increasing or shortening the reach and have you ride some more. And they will also ask you how you feel. Depending on how extensive the fit is that is about it.

    I know of some very extensive fits where they actually have sensors in the pedals and elsewhere the measure pressure. I doubt that is what you will have.

    Hang in there!!

    Bill

  3. #3
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    Welcome and congrats on your success so far!

    are you wearing cycling shorts with a chamois? That might help if you are not.

    definitely a bike fit will go a ways toward comfort on bike but some of sit bone discomfort just requires time on bike to ease up. Some of your issue could just be not being use to a road bike seat and positioning.

    I sort of agree that get the bike fit done...ride and ride some more...see what happens before swapping out to different saddle. If after riding and you still experience specific discomfort and maybe saddle sores...then start testing out saddles (find test saddle program thru shops to test before purchase).
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  4. #4
    Ancient Clydesdale 2 wheeler's Avatar
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    Your posterior will toughen up and get acclimated, but it takes time. It will get better, I promise!

  5. #5
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Welcome. There will be pain and discomfort at first, but there comes a tipping point where it becomes fun, and then kind of addicting. I don't sweat the bike fit so much. The guy at my LBS has done a few tweeks, and is of he opinion that I am starting to share that bike fit is not an exact science. With experience you will gain riding technique and fitting becomes an interactive thing that a fancy machine can only approximate.

    Work up to it, and don't push yourself so hard at first that it stops being fun. Good Luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
    are you wearing cycling shorts with a chamois? That might help if you are not.
    I use shorts with a synthetic pad, not chamios. They work fine for me, cost a little less, and are a lot easier to care for. I've only had one pair of chamios, and I (-)out grew them.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  6. #6
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CommuteCommando View Post
    I use shorts with a synthetic pad, not chamios. They work fine for me, cost a little less, and are a lot easier to care for. I've only had one pair of chamios, and I (-)out grew them.
    my guess is I do too...what I meant is "are you wearing cycling shorts with a pad?" Most still refer to that as a chamois even if it isn't a "true" chamois...

    my current faves are my Hincapie bibs and a pair I got at performance ....
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  7. #7
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    ok, it shouldn't be that painful after only 2 miles... ask your shop if they have some other saddles you can demo.

    I'm not sure about women's saddles but generally, soft and cushy is no good! You want a very firm support.

    +1 to cycling shorts too and don't sweat what it makes you look like. All cyclists look like dopes, even the super skinny fit ones.

  8. #8
    Senior Member jc650's Avatar
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    Congratulations on your accomplishment and the new bike. I started out riding and had some discomfort as well on my rear. It does really take a few rides to get used to it then it goes away, at least for me it did. If it didn't I would have tried a different saddle eventually. Good luck and keep it up!

  9. #9
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    My wife prefers the Terry bike shorts, but you'll find that personal preferences in saddles and shorts vary widely among individuals. I'm with your LBS in that you should stick with the stock saddle for a while. Too many people get sore in the early days and immediately buy a big cushy saddle thinking that will solve the problem. It doesn't and can actually make things worse. The same goes for the excessively padded shorts. Your chamois (natural or synthetic pad) should be fairly thin >8mm at the sit bones with 4 to 6mm being just fine. Remember the purpose of bike shorts is to wick moisture and prevent friction, not provide padding. If it feels like you are wearing a diaper, you have too much padding. Adding padding either on the saddle or in the shorts just decreases the amount of space available and moves the pressure off of your sit bones onto the soft tissues of your perineum and inner thighs.

    Like any other new exercise, cycling will cause some aches and pains for a while. Take notes of where any pains are when you ride (or after) and take them to the bike fitting. Get your bike well fit to you with good positioning and proper weight distribution and then ride for a few weeks. If the pain persists or you start developing any saddle sores or sharp joint pain, get refit. You might need to change stem length/angle/height or make other tweeks. Realize that as you get more fit and flexible, you may have to make more tweeks to positioning.

    A common early mistake is to have the saddle too low and the bars too high. This mimics the position of a beach cruiser but is inappropriate on a road bike and can cause pain to your backside and personals as well as your knees.

    I suggest not changing the saddle until you are sure you have the bike well fitted and have ridden for a while to toughen the backside a bit. I think that a lot of people who have trouble finding the "right" saddle when they first start mistake a lack of conditioning for having the "wrong" saddle. My Plan B bike has a Bontrager SSR (the least expensive entry level saddle that comes on many Trek bikes) that I bought for $9 out of a bargain bin. It is not as comfortable as my Specialized Avatar or Toupe on my other two bikes, but it isn't like riding a barbed wire covered 2x4 either. I had that same saddle on my first road bike and rode it many recreational miles, 20-30 miles on many group rides and on my first century without too much discomfort and no saddle sores. Honestly, most of the stock saddles on LBS bikes are not half bad these days. You will likely upgrade at some point, but don't be in a rush.

    When I first got back into cycling in the early spring four years ago (the first serious cycling of my life and the first time on a bike in more than 20 years) I started with an 1990s mountain bike and rode about five miles through flat, quiet, residential streets. I got home and could barely get off the bike, walked into the house with shaking legs and flopped on the couch where I moaned until I fell asleep. The next day I walked like an extra from Planet of the Apes. Don't get discouraged by your first few outings, things will get better soon if you stick with it. My second year I rode a flatbar touring bike and the third, a well used 1990s Trek 1400. Last year I got my first modern road bike and am loving it. I'm still not a fast rider but I can hang with the pack on most B-rides and have ridden quite a few organized and charity rides from 45-100 miles in length. I still get sore sometimes, but a good sore that goes away with a shower and a night's sleep.

    Congratulations on your new bike and welcome to the forum.
    Last edited by Myosmith; 01-25-14 at 05:08 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Zoxe's Avatar
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    Welcome to the herd!

    We all get sore. There are ways to mitigate it, but would not fret over being sore after your first few rides. It sounds like you have a good dialog going with the shop, keep asking them questions and they'll help.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beachgrad05 View Post
    my guess is I do too...what I meant is "are you wearing cycling shorts with a pad?" Most still refer to that as a chamois even if it isn't a "true" chamois...

    my current faves are my Hincapie bibs and a pair I got at performance ....
    I get mine from http://www.kucharikclothing.com/subl...tpjvanf4l9j3h4 I found him while looking for the jersey on the link. I like the fact that they fit and are American made at a reasonable price.

    Quote Originally Posted by Myosmith View Post
    I'm with your LBS in that you should stick with the stock saddle for a while

    Remember the purpose of bike shorts is to wick moisture and prevent friction, not provide padding.
    1. This is an indication that you found a good bike shop. Good local shops are looking at you as a potential long term customer, and are interested in getting you to the best cycling experience. Some, especially the larger chains like Performance or Trek Superstore, are into the "you want fries/supersize with that?" business model, and would have sold you the padded saddle.

    2. +1 In my early days I rode in cargo shorts padded with a pair of tighty whities. I had all kinds of "junk issues" until I switched to the bibs.
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 01-25-14 at 06:23 AM.
    As much as you paid for that Beemer [Mercedies, Audi, Escalade], I'm surprised it didn't come equipped with turn signals.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by weezgrrl View Post
    Hi All,

    38-yr-old "Athena" here. Down to about 227 from 275 last August (go me!) after embarking on a supervised total lifestyle-oriented weight loss program, and a couple days ago, after nearly 6 months of oggling and drooling about getting a bike, I finally brought home my '14 Specialized Dolce Elite Compact. Huzzah!...
    I've only done 2 short rides [logging Strava]...But is it bad, bad news if I can't even ride for 2 miles without being in a lot of pain? I would understand if I felt pain after a half hour or so, but it's basically uncomfortable from the very get-go and it swiftly (within 10 minutes) becomes intolerable.
    Woohoo! I like your spirit. When I see, "Strava" I know you are down the rabbit hole. I sure have not taken that level of commitment yet. Good for you! Just don't drool about the bike when riding, those of us behind you really hate it. Laughing the whole ride is ok though. Heh.

    You do need to do something about the bike seat though. Different seat and adjustments for sure. Also add to that the angle of your hips - I read that around here somewhere. It is true that some time is needed before seats stop hurting but that's from more time in the saddle. Also, you might - just throwing this out there - need a "comfort" designed seat until you loose a little more and at the same time letting your body get used to being on a bicycle. Most of us go through several seats and lots of minor tweaking of height and angle until we get it right. Find a bike shop that will keep swapping seats for you every couple of days (as long as you don't damage the seat) until you get one that is comfortable for at least a 1/2 hour before any sort of pain or discomfort.

    How about joining a spin class or a cheap bike on a trainer to get some time in w/minimal excuses not ride? If you are only going 15 minutes at a time for now, using the trainer at home you can do that 2 or 3 times a day by just jumping on, spinning, and done. A month of that, along with bicycling, and your physical comfort and confidence should be right up where it should be.
    "Of course you eat too much" (Looigi) There are things people say that are so true you can never forget the wisdom. I still eat too much. Without denial.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member @Jason's Avatar
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    I had the same problem when I first started. The bike shop went to fit me, and I was nearly in tears just trying to get through the fitting. I really couldn't sit and spin in a way to get a good fit because it hurt so bad. But, I suffered through it and took the bike home. I tried several rides, but couldn't make it around the block without excruciating pain.

    So, I bought a Brooks B67, and mounted it on my bike. There was an immediate difference. I could actually sit on the saddle to get fitted. And, when I went riding, my butt was no longer the limiting factor. I could ride for as long as my unfit self could. After the ride I'd have a little soreness, but it was a drastic difference from the stock saddle.

    I'm no expert, but there is no way I could have went on with the level of pain I was experiencing.

  14. #14
    Senior Member CustomSteel's Avatar
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    I had problems with my butt hurting, legs getting sore, and arms falling asleep for the first solid week of riding. It was really tough on me, and I was only going about 10-12 miles at the most, with rest stops along the way. My muscles started toning up pretty quickly after that, and I can sit on those awful hard skinny saddles for a 25 mile ride with only one stop to stretch out and get rehydrated. Don't let your beginning rides discourage you, you're whole body is getting toned to include your heart and lungs. You will become more comfortable and increase your endurance pretty quickly if you ride regularly, even if it's just 2 miles a day. You're not in a contest with anybody. This is just about enjoying your quality of life, having fun, and taking care of yourself

  15. #15
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    Thanks to you all for the encouraging replies! Went out today and picked up a pair of gloves and proper padded cycling shorts. I'm taking the day off today (my personal trainer made me do squats yesterday so that's a whole other pain I'm managing, lol!), so I'll be trying everything out at my cycling "lesson" tomorrow at the Cascade Bicycle Club. I'm going to stick to the OEM saddle as long as I can tolerate it, though I've been looking at other saddles. Came across the Serfas Women's RX-922 model online last night and it was very well-reviewed. Spotted it today at REI and it will definitely be a test saddle should I need to go that route (hopefully just temporarily).

    My sincerest thanks, again, for all your welcomes and thoughtful replies! I'm looking forward to being an active member of this forum!

  16. #16
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    I was wondering if you might post a picture of your bike?

    Definitely talk to your LBS and others in area if possible who might sell different brands of saddles. Find test programs...so you can ride saddle for a bit to see how it works for you. I ride out of a women's shop and the frank discussions had there with women that come in to talk about saddle discomfort may not happen in a more male dominated shop. Our bits are different and as such often we need a different saddle than men. Not always but often enough. Before you buy...try several saddles....take notes (written if you can to make sure you get the description of type of pain and where pain is) or whether one was FABULOUS to ride with. Then when you are ready you know which one was the one you liked best and you buy that one.

    I have seen several women come into the shop and they have bought several saddles trying to find one that was "right"...that is throwing money out the window. Don't do that. You should be able to find one that you feel comfortable on.

    I had a stock men's Bontrager on my bike until this past spring and rode a century on it. It wasn't awful but it was uncomfortable when I went in the drops as my pelvis tilted more and I was more on my sensitive bits....I tested several saddles (a few Fizik and a Terry) and ended up with the Fizik that I started out demoing. It is the Fizik Vesta and has a relief channel and is described as being a saddle designed for endurance rides...(I like doing Centuries). I have now put thousands of miles and a few centuries on that saddle and I love it.

    BTW...I am an athena....I'm 5' 7" and 218 currently.

    Where in the PNW are you? I was borned and raised in Washington state and lived all over the state. Still have family spread from Bellingham to Clarkston.
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the info, Beachgrad - I've attached a pic of the new ride below. I live in Kirkland in a ridiculously hilly area. There are a few flat streets around that I can "practice" on, and luckily I can pop the wheels off and stick everything in the back of my MINI to get to the local paved trails. I'll definitely look for a store that offers saddle testing. After dropping so much on a bike, I'm not going to be throwing my money away so easily!! I've been logging some brief ride notes and I'll definitely start adding specifics about pain intensity and location, especially while testing. Great idea!

    545929_10151895781318341_637374641_n.jpg

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by weezgrrl View Post
    T... I'll be trying everything out at my cycling "lesson" tomorrow at the Cascade Bicycle Club. I'm going to stick to the OEM saddle as long as I can tolerate it, though I've been looking at other saddles.
    I really think you should not tolerate pain from what might be a really poor fit, just plain a bad idea. Listen to what @jason and beachgrad05 posted - different saddle makes all the difference. I went through several, one every couple days riding from 10 - 30 miles on them depending on how they felt, and then swapping. The LBS here had a good program to swap until it fits. Ask around tomorrow at the bike club.

    Addendum: just saw the picture of you Spec - that's a really pretty bike. Good color choice. You will have a lot of fun on it. I did notice the saddle is tipped more forward than a lot of us have ours - does it feel like you are sliding off or leaning on the bars a lot?
    Last edited by RoadTire; 01-25-14 at 06:22 PM.
    "Of course you eat too much" (Looigi) There are things people say that are so true you can never forget the wisdom. I still eat too much. Without denial.
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  19. #19
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    Gorgeous bike!

    I'm guessing that saddle is a women's Specialized so it is likely a good start point. How soon til you get fit done.

    did they have you on trainer in shop and check your fit at least by look before leaving?
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  20. #20
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Congratulations on the weight loss, you rock! Bike looks cool, too.

    Bicycle shorts will help quite a bit. Keep after the fit adjustments, too, until you find a sweet spot.

    You sound like you are well on the way to cycling success. Keep going! It has made a tremendous improvement in my life, and I wish you similar happy results.

  21. #21
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    Thanks again, all! I'll be scheduling the formal fit within the next week or so. I wanted to wait just a bit to get a better idea of what to feel for, and do some additional research on the matter. Gonna go in better armed that on purchase day, that's for sure! The LBS guy rode around with me as I was testing each of the bikes and made small adjustments here and there. He said I was leaving with an approximate fit, so I wasn't expecting perfection. Looks like you're right about the saddle, RoadTire. It does look to be tipping down and that might be adding to the discomfort. It's an easy-enough place to start!

  22. #22
    Just Keep Pedaling Beachgrad05's Avatar
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    I too noted saddle nose down. Do you have a level or smart phone that you can get a level app on? That way you can set it s level front to back as possible. Often the shop I ride out of will recommend starting with saddle level...
    Move along....nothing to see here....anymore.

  23. #23
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    Gorgeous bike! Specialized makes nice bikes, for sure! I'd still ride one but got far too good of a deal last year on my Diamondback Podium...

    I agree, get the saddle level to start.

    Otherwise, keep up the awesome work! Road bikes are fun, I always said I'd never own one. Then I moved away from good MTB trails, the test ride on my 2006 Specialized Allez (sold) won me over on skinny tires. IF they are good at fitting, you will be happy (is it a specialized BG fitting service? they are supposedly well trained).
    2012 Diamondback Podium 2 - Ready for spring! :D
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  24. #24
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    Your body is supposed to be supported on the saddle by your pelvic bones, not by the soft part of the crotch. Those bones are a bit toward the rear as you sit on a bike, hence the saddle is wider at the rear to match. If the saddle is nose down, you tend to slide forward and then the soft bits are taking all the weight on the nose of the saddle. A flat saddle or even a very slightly nose up saddle allows the pelvic bones to do the supporting.

    Suppose a saddle has lots of padding. The pelvic bones will sink down and compress the padding. The rest of the padding will push up on the rest of the crotch. Heavily padded saddles are thus less comfortable than firm hard saddles, except for the shortest rides. Get a firm saddle with as little padding as possible. You need a little bit of padding to ease the friction between bone and saddle base, but that's what the cycling shorts are for.

    Different people have different widths of their pelvis, women are generally wider than men, so each person will find a different saddle comfortable. Women's saddle tend to be a little wider and often have a center channel, though increasingly men's saddles have those channels too. Terry specializes in women's saddles. Brooks has women's models. You should definitely not have to buy new $80 saddles over and over just to try them. Your bike shop should have an exchange program; otherwise, buy used saddles (bike shop like Recycled Cycles, or eBay, etc).

    If all of your weight is resting dead and heavy on your pelvis, constantly pressing on the saddle for hours and slamming down on bumps, it will eventually get uncomfortable no matter how good the saddle fit is. You want to be active on the bike, not sit and sit and sit. Stand sometimes, which can be a full stand or just a subtle lift off the saddle. When approaching a bump, get up and let your legs, not your crotch, absorb the shocks. Get used to pedaling in the standing position, which is important for other reasons too (change the muscles used, rapid accelerations, climbing steep grades).

    And yes there is some toughening up to do. Even though being able to ride only 2 miles without bad pain seems a bit more than the usual butt-toughening issues. You could try to work up a bit more each day, for a week or so. Definitely get the cycling shorts and level the saddle, though. If you are getting raw down there, stop!

    That is a really pretty bike in a great color. Given where you live, I'd recommend some light fenders. Keep your bike and yourself clean. Crud RoadRacers or RaceBlades or similar. They go on and off quickly when the seasons change. Don't forget lights and something high-viz.
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  25. #25
    Junior Member
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    Kirkland, WA
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    '14 Specialized Dolce Elite Compact
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    Thanks, Nymtber! According to the shop's website, they are BikeFit Systems certified. I'll have the cycle club instructor help me out with the saddle-leveling tomorrow, and he's also probably going to have to help me get my rear wheel back on. I got it on once myself but it was sheer luck! I'm not exactly mechanically-inclined, and have spacial analysis issues, which I know is a weakness when dealing with this kind of stuff! Very excited though. Just ordered a Quad Lock mount and case for my phone. Now I can have Strava visible while riding (computer will have to wait til I can do longer rides... or my birthday!!).

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