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Old 03-31-08, 10:03 PM   #1
meaculpa
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Ladies: need advice re saddle

This for my girlfriend. Since I am a cycling-fanatic and commuting year round and such, she has wanted to join me for some fun rides, short & sweet ones preferrably.

Last summer we went on an easy trail for her first ride. She had a decent time except her bum developed painful swellings right around her sitbones. She also subsequently developed a UTI which may or may not be related to the ride (11 miles of flat, groomed trail). And the seat was a bad, cheap one, she is in her late 30's, her rental bike was cheap, etc, etc. (I am just naming possible contributing factors).

Now, last Sunday, we found ourselves bike shopping for her, tried out some hybrids at Trek, then REI, also the Townie frames, and some others. The best one we found is REI's Metro, a 26"wheeled hybrid, so we ordered one for her. The thing we learned, as she tried the different bikes, is every seat bothered her. She even developed the swellings again, and this was after a few extremely short test rides! A bright spot occured when she put a gel padding seat cover on one bike (she tried 3 gel seat covers actually) and said "Ok, this is more tolerable". But her butt was STILL sensative. She doesn't believe the cut-out seats helped much at all, though she only tried one version and was already sore when trying it.

At the end of the shopping/testing trip, we agreed that she should get padded shorts and put a pad on the seat and that that combo may be what's needed to keep her from getting swollen. But I also said to her that this particular activity may not be for her. We can give it a shot but if the rides continue to bring pain and worse, we'll return the bike to REI and quit trying. I am hoping she can get with a woman bike-sales associate at REI to find some solutions but with her work its proven to be difficult.

And so I would appreciate any feedback from forum members, especially the women.
Thanks - the boyfriend
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Old 04-01-08, 04:54 AM   #2
momof4greatkids
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Quote:
Originally Posted by meaculpa View Post
And so I would appreciate any feedback from forum members, especially the women.
Thanks - the boyfriend
I know this can be a sesitive subject, you might want to have your GF log into the women's forum for a more discreet discussion of such personal matters

that said, let me suggest the following:

Padded, good quality cycling shorts
Make sure she perches her sit bones on the saddle. She doesn't straddle it like seesaw
A women's specific saddle, like a Terry
more saddle time in gradually increasing increments
meticulous personal hygeine before and after the ride
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Old 04-01-08, 07:58 AM   #3
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Whatever momof4greatkids said.
You two might also consider a recumbent for her (It was a great fun for my DW to try, but we could not justify the price)
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Old 04-01-08, 10:47 AM   #4
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Every woman's body is different. I swear by a used saddle (rather hard, and *wide*). Some women like Brooks, others swear by Terry or Specialized or a stock *cheap* Trek. I don't find squishy or padded anything helpful, but other people swear by squishy and padded.

I didn't have tons of saddle trouble, partially because I started with very short rides. 1-2 miles is plenty at first unless you do tons of spin classes. Keeping it short meant I could work on perching on my sit bones, and I had time to build up the muscle tone needed to sit correctly. As I got more comfortable, I rode more. Then a record breaking winter happened as my reintroduction to winter, so I fell back on walking... So now I'm working on getting back to where I was in November, where 10-20 mile trips every day were easy. It's *much* faster than the first time, since I have practice.
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Old 04-01-08, 12:36 PM   #5
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Also find a store that has an exchange policy on saddles. I am waiting for the weather to break so we can get a better fitting saddle for my wife. We need to have at least a few days of descent weather so that I can install the seat and have her try it for a few days. The LBS has a 1 week return policy so that dictates that she has to try it right away.

I am also working on getting my wife to start with short distances of about 3 miles at least 3 times a week. This will help her body get used to sitting on a saddle, yet should be easy to fit into her schedule. As she gets stronger she should also have less trouble... but that definitely takes time.

Happy riding,
André
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Old 04-01-08, 02:59 PM   #6
meaculpa
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Thanks for all those suggestions. I think it will be best to get her talking w/ the sales girls at REI. They are more her speed (vs the Trek store whose female employees seem to all be racer-types.) Ultimately, I can only make suggestions but she's pretty stubborn.
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Old 04-01-08, 05:26 PM   #7
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Proper bike fit (reach, etc.) also may contribute, so make sure the new bike fits properly and is set up properly for her.

More gel might not be the best thing, but everyone's different.
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Old 04-02-08, 06:45 AM   #8
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Some stores offer the Specialized saddle measuring service: you sit on a pressure measuring device which shows the width of your sit-bones which are what you should actually be sitting on and they can then tell which width saddle "should" be most suitable.

Never tried it myself, but possibly some forumers have tried it - you might find out on the ladies section as suggested

Good luck - but remember that, even when she has a comfortable saddle, as other forumers have said, you will need to help her develop her fitness gradually. Regular short rides at an easy pace, padded shorts and make sure that the saddle height is right for her. Your LBS should be able to help if you're unsure.
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Old 04-03-08, 08:10 PM   #9
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Uti

My wife (RN) has suffered from UTI's in the past, and believes one contributer is not staying well hydrated.
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