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  1. #1
    Undrafted free-agent. jbmadtown's Avatar
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    Getting ready for a century

    Hi from Madison, WI:

    I'm still a relative novice to cycling and my goal is to finish a century by the end of the summer (no big deal for many of you, it seems!) This weekend I pushed myself and did a self-supported 70 mile ride- by far my longest of the season so far. The ride went great overall, but my biggest concern was my saddle! I've got a Terry Fly and it felt *great* until about mile 55, then my sit bones started to feel tender and I felt like my hamstrings weren't getting enough blood.

    Here's my question: Do you think I need to adjust my seat, or will my rear end "get into shape" as I continue to do longer rides? The fact that it felt great for so long makes me hesitant to readjust my saddle too much. I felt more comfy in the drops then in a more upright pose- so maybe I should move it back slightly to take some pressure of the sit bones?

    Any input would be appreciated! Thanks.
    oh bla di.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbmadtown
    Here's my question: Do you think I need to adjust my seat, or will my rear end "get into shape" as I continue to do longer rides?
    In my experience, it doesn't. If you've been off the bike, for, say, winter hibernation, then the first couple of hundred miles might require you to recondition your butt; but if your saddle felt good for 50, but after that it gets painful, then there's a fit issue.

    Also, the fact that you feel more comfortable in the drops than on the hoods points at another fit problem.

    What I would actually do, before you consider buying a new saddle -- get a fitting done if you haven't had it yet. It might just be a simple matter of adjusting saddle or stem height.

    Is it the tissue on the sit bones that feel tender, or is it the skin? If brushing the skin feels painful, but actual pressure doesn't produce any pain that it might just be that you have some 'chafage' going on -- as your inner thigh might be rubbing up against the side of your saddle which, after 50+ miles, can result in feelings of tenderness. You might want to consider some lubricant like Bag Balm to minimize this irritation.

  3. #3
    Undrafted free-agent. jbmadtown's Avatar
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    re: getting ready...

    Thanks for the input- it's definitely the tissue around the bones that is tender, and not chafing. I'm a fan of bodyglide and use it liberally. Maybe a professional fitting is the answer.
    oh bla di.

  4. #4
    just another gosling Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbmadtown
    Thanks for the input- it's definitely the tissue around the bones that is tender, and not chafing. I'm a fan of bodyglide and use it liberally. Maybe a professional fitting is the answer.
    Ah. Tissue around the bones is usually just not enough saddle miles. My personal opinion, not backed up by any scientific data, is that when you sit on a saddle, the tissue under the sit bones becomes blood-deprived. That tissue has to undergo some physical changes before it can endure this condition. That takes a lot of time. I've found the best treatment is a consistent riding schedule. Saddle miles, they call it. 5-6 days/week.

    On long rides, get out of the saddle and pump every 10 minutes, by the clock. That helps really a lot.

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    BAL
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    Quote Originally Posted by jbmadtown
    Hi from Madison, WI:

    I'm still a relative novice to cycling and my goal is to finish a century by the end of the summer (no big deal for many of you, it seems!) This weekend I pushed myself and did a self-supported 70 mile ride- by far my longest of the season so far. The ride went great overall, but my biggest concern was my saddle! I've got a Terry Fly and it felt *great* until about mile 55, then my sit bones started to feel tender and I felt like my hamstrings weren't getting enough blood.

    .
    Many saddles will work for a lot of people --- if they don't ride over one or two hours. It is only after two hours of riding that you can determine if you have the right saddle for your bottom. Yes, you might get some improvement with fit adjustments; however, it sounds like to have a traditional problem of a softer saddle leading to discomfort over the long haul. I tired the Terry Fly and liked it for the first hour or two; but, after two hours I also had soreness in the sit bone area and I ride over 4,000 miles per year.

    You might just find yourself on the quest many of us are on and have been on to find the "perfect" saddle.

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    After exhaustive research (okay, after 20 years of listening to people complain about their butts ) I have determined that sore heinys are the number one cyclist complaint. So welcome aboard.

    First, put me in the camp that believes the average tuckus will toughen up with miles. Early on in a rider's career -- and after any long layoff -- the rear end is easily irritated. With saddle time, most butts toughen up. So there's that.

    Secondly, I'd be willing to bet most experienced cyclists have a box full of saddles in the garage. Most all of us have experimented with different saddles. A few have found -- or claim to have found, anyway -- saddle Nirvana. Lots of folks in that category use leather saddles, usually from Brooks. Lots of folks also have leather Brooks saddles rotting away in the above mentioned box, however. I've been riding in various capacities for a couple of decades and still haven't found the "It's like sitting on a cloud!" saddle. And there's another one waiting on my doorstep when I get home. Maybe it'll be the one. Maybe not. You might end up a member of that club too.

    Anyway, I'd say you should probably stick with what you've got for a while longer. Build experience and miles and see if the problem improves. If not, then get out the old credit card, look around for suggestions, and do your part for the economy.

    Oh, as to "getting fitted": IMO it's sort of overrated. If your position on the bike is really wrong, like by inches, then an experienced eye will do you some good. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that if you can just find the right guru he'll mumble some incantation, move your saddle back 2.4 mm and your life will be blissful from then on. It don't work like that and anyone who says it does is trying to fleece you.

    Were I you, I'd find the local bike club and see if you can't get an experienced rider or higher level racer to set things up for you for free. (That's the way it was done before the Lance boom, anyway.) Failing that, then there are worse ways to waste your money than paying the LBS to set you up -- but make sure it's not some 17 year old BMX kid doing it, and don't spend $75 or $100 for the boutique treatment. An experienced fellow can get you into the ballpark in 15 minutes or so, and there's no reason in the world why it should cost more than $30 at the outside. There's no magic at work here!

  7. #7
    Undrafted free-agent. jbmadtown's Avatar
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    Thanks

    Thanks to all for your input. The consensus (and my impulse as well) is to put in another couple hundred miles in the next two weeks and see how the butt feels. I would like to avoid shelling out 150 bucks for a pro fitting- especially when my legs, back, feet, knees, neck all feel just fine in my current setup.
    oh bla di.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jbmadtown
    Thanks to all for your input. The consensus (and my impulse as well) is to put in another couple hundred miles in the next two weeks and see how the butt feels. I would like to avoid shelling out 150 bucks for a pro fitting- especially when my legs, back, feet, knees, neck all feel just fine in my current setup.
    fwiw, when I recommended to get a fitting done, I wasn't advocating some $150 FitKit or FitWerx system. But I would recommend getting an experienced rider to watch you on the bike and give you some feedback on posture and saddle position. We can give you general guidelines and ideas, but none of that would be as effective as having someone look at you while you're pedaling.

    Also, last year, when I started randoneering, I was putting in an average of 250 miles per week, with centuries on the weekend. Even with that sort of mileage, a badly fitted saddle was resulting in a sore butt, and I didn't get rid of it until I shopped around for a new saddle that was wide enough to support my sit bones and set properly to do its job -- which is why I said that, in my experience, a butt that feels fine for a couple hours and sore later on does not 'train' up to longer distances.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Six jours
    After exhaustive research (okay, after 20 years of listening to people complain about their butts ) I have determined that sore heinys are the number one cyclist complaint. So welcome aboard.

    First, put me in the camp that believes the average tuckus will toughen up with miles. Early on in a rider's career -- and after any long layoff -- the rear end is easily irritated. With saddle time, most butts toughen up. So there's that.

    Secondly, I'd be willing to bet most experienced cyclists have a box full of saddles in the garage. Most all of us have experimented with different saddles. A few have found -- or claim to have found, anyway -- saddle Nirvana. Lots of folks in that category use leather saddles, usually from Brooks. Lots of folks also have leather Brooks saddles rotting away in the above mentioned box, however. I've been riding in various capacities for a couple of decades and still haven't found the "It's like sitting on a cloud!" saddle. And there's another one waiting on my doorstep when I get home. Maybe it'll be the one. Maybe not. You might end up a member of that club too.

    Anyway, I'd say you should probably stick with what you've got for a while longer. Build experience and miles and see if the problem improves. If not, then get out the old credit card, look around for suggestions, and do your part for the economy.

    Oh, as to "getting fitted": IMO it's sort of overrated. If your position on the bike is really wrong, like by inches, then an experienced eye will do you some good. But don't fall into the trap of thinking that if you can just find the right guru he'll mumble some incantation, move your saddle back 2.4 mm and your life will be blissful from then on. It don't work like that and anyone who says it does is trying to fleece you.

    Were I you, I'd find the local bike club and see if you can't get an experienced rider or higher level racer to set things up for you for free. (That's the way it was done before the Lance boom, anyway.) Failing that, then there are worse ways to waste your money than paying the LBS to set you up -- but make sure it's not some 17 year old BMX kid doing it, and don't spend $75 or $100 for the boutique treatment. An experienced fellow can get you into the ballpark in 15 minutes or so, and there's no reason in the world why it should cost more than $30 at the outside. There's no magic at work here!


    Great response... If there's a Best of Bike Forums book out there, this should be in it.

  10. #10
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    Shucks, 'twern't nuthin'.

    fwiw, when I recommended to get a fitting done, I wasn't advocating some $150 FitKit or FitWerx system. But I would recommend getting an experienced rider to watch you on the bike and give you some feedback on posture and saddle position. We can give you general guidelines and ideas, but none of that would be as effective as having someone look at you while you're pedaling.
    Amen to that. I read about folks who spent three hours getting "fitted" and I just shake my head. $150? Good grief.

    Here: measure your exact inseam by facing a wall in your socks and jamming a thick book in between you legs, as far into your crotch as you can. Get someone to help if you can all avoid giggling. Mark the wall with a pencil. Do it 3 times and use the highest mark. Multiply the results by .883. This is your saddle height from pedal to top of seat. You can vary a centimeter or so from that number, but the basic number will put you within the "correct" range.

    Then sit on the bike and drop a plump line from your kneecap. It should fall somewhere in the vicinity of the pedal axle with the pedal in the forward position. This is truly not a critical measurement, despite what some folks will claim. (It orginated from people looking at lots of pro racers and realizing that most of them had their knees in approximately that position. Not exactly hard science, eh?) So that can vary quite a bit, although most riders vary rearwards rather than forwards.

    Your handlebars can be anywhere from a few inches below the level of the saddle to even or slightly above that level, depending upon you individual measurements and preferences. Don't let anyone tell you it's "wrong" if you're within that range and you're comfortable -- and some folks set their bars a LOT higher, usually for neck problems or advanced age.

    Handlebar reach is the one area where there aren't any simple formulae. A few rules of thumb are helpful here -- like sitting comfortably and naturally on the bike with your hands on the brake lever hoods, and then seeing if the handlebars obscure your view of the hub -- but this is one area where an experienced eye can be helpful. It's also, though, an area that isn't, IMO, terribly critical. Look at yourself in a mirror from the side, or your reflection in windows of buildings as you ride, and see if the angle between your torso and your upper arms approximates what you see in bike magazines or experienced riders. There's a lot of leeway here, so if you're comfortable and don't look a whole huge bunch different than other experienced riders, you're probably fine.

    And there's your pro fitting. I'll give you the address for sending the $150. lol.
    Last edited by Six jours; 05-15-07 at 02:27 PM.

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