Having trouble getting back on the bike? Not because you are tired, but because your rear just can’t stand to sit on the seat for another minute? We’ve all been there. Here are a few tips that I have learned through my own experiences.
Make sure you get a saddle that is comfortable for you. There are plenty of choices out there. The main things to pay attention to are saddle width and the size/location of the cut out. When choosing the correct saddle width, you want your butt bones to sit on the outer edges of the saddle. You should also be sitting far enough back on the saddle that you have most of your weight on your butt bones. The left picture on the image below shows a saddle that is too narrow and the picture on the right shows optimal saddle width.
The cutout is more user specific. Some riders swear by it and others don’t really care. I personally use a saddle without a cut out. I don’t feel any unnecessary pressure from my saddle. If you do feel extra pressure while seated, maybe you need a cut out. Almost any cut out will do. It’s purpose is to get your weight onto you butt bones by simply removing all parts of the saddle except where your butt bones should be sitting.
Shorts and Chamois
Another aspect to saddle problems could be your shorts. You should find a pair of shorts with a nice dense chamois. Don’t be fooled into thinking a big thick gel chamois will be comfortable because it wont. It will compress more where your weight is and the excess gel will create pressure points on areas that you are not sitting on. A nice chamois is typically fairly thin and lightweight. It wont move much while pedaling, which will help you to not get rashes. Pair a nice chamois with a nice friction reducing cream and you will be on your way to comfortable century rides.
Your position on the saddle will also affect how your rear feels on long rides. You can slide forward on the saddle, which effectively increases your seat tube angle, shifts your muscle use more towards your quads, and gives you slightly more power. This all sounds great, right? Well, with the forward shift, you will also lose some endurance and some comfort. The further forward you shift, the narrow the saddle gets until you are no longer resting on your sit bones.
On the other end of the spectrum, you can also slide back on your saddle, which effectively decreases the seat tube angle. Muscle use shifts more towards your hamstrings. In this scenario, you can scoot too far back. So far that the back of your legs might start to hit the edges of the saddle when either leg is at the lowest point of the pedal stroke.
In addition to the obvious (saddles and chamois), adding a bit of chamois cream can really help out in making your ride more comfortable. It will help to decrease the friction down there and keep you from getting rashes.
So maybe you have tried everything I have suggested, plus more that other people have, and you still have saddle problems. Well, it might take a while for your bum to adapt to sitting on a saddle for hours at a time. Build into those long rides. Not only will your rear thank you, but so will your legs (when you don’t get those debilitating cramps). You can either increase your duration or your frequency. I’d suggest a bit of both. For example, increase your long weekend rides by 30 minutes each day and try and squeeze in at least 2 rides during the weekdays. In a couple months, you should be able to get 4 hours in the saddle without feeling like will not be able to sit for weeks.
Some good saddles
–ISM Adamo Breakaway – I’ve never used this saddle, but have heard rave reviews about it
–Fizik Antares 00 – My own personal saddle on my road bike
Some good shorts
–Mavic Stellar Altium Stealth – In my experience, the mavic shorts run a little big, so size down!
–Sugoi RS – These are the new shorts that the Don’s race team will be using for the 2013 season
Some good chamois cream