Les confessions du snob de selle

Pressure on the sitting bones eliminated with the backward saddle.

Pressure on the sitting bones eliminated with the backward saddle.

Every once in a while, you realize your imagination has its limits.

Your flexible mind, capable of intuiting many potential solutions to the same challenge, is faced with something that cannot, in any way, be a solution to that challenge.

Instead, the mind is faced with a new challenge: one to its understanding of the way the world works.

Don’t get me wrong: I understand that different people will approach the challenge of bicycle comfort differently.

For some, the saddle is simply a positional device, something that keeps the butt at the right distance from the cranks. On a racing bike, a narrow saddle minimizes interference between the saddle and legs.

For others, the saddle is critical for support, a device that cradles almost all the rider’s weight. On a pedal-forward bike, a wide, well-cushioned saddle provides that support. On a recumbent, the saddle becomes a seat with a back.

There are variations, too: saddles with springs, saddles with relieved areas, split saddles and noseless saddles.

Just as important, there are strategies on locating the saddle in space: closer or farther away from the handlebars, closer or farther away from the pedals, and nose down or nose up.

I know someone who rides thousands of miles a year without a saddle at all.

People experiment with saddles and positioning over years of riding. As they get older, they often make changes to match changes in their riding style—to accommodate inflexibility or other limitations, for example.

In short, you have your favorite saddles; I have mine. It’s all cool.

Until, bumping up against that limitation of the personal imagination, it’s not cool.

Like the saddle in the picture, mounted backward and nose high.

I didn’t challenge the rider on the choices he made; bicycle positioning is a very personal thing. But I did ask him a few questions—and avoided an obvious host of others—to get a better understanding of his journey to the backward saddle.

His complaint about other bike seats? Painful because of the weight placed on the sitting bones. (A secondary complaint was pain from the nose of the saddle.)

To eliminate the pain, he claimed to sit on the mid-point of the saddle where the sitting bones are unsupported—because they are unsupported.

I leave it to you to determine how this can possibly work.

Maybe it’s like pedaling with your back against a wall—except it’s not your back, and it’s not a wall. (One vanishingly minor objection to the whole scheme: seems like there’d be tremendous weight transfer to the hands.)

But it’s his bike and his body. He claims to ride 50 to 60 miles at a time in perfect comfort. And, to be sure, he hasn’t written a book or gone on the lecture circuit to promote the seating position. He’s pursuing an individual vision. Something that works for him. That’s all that counts.

And yet.

I just don’t see it. Don’t get it. Don’t understand it and don’t believe it. Not a word of it. It exceeds the credibility rev limiter.

  • It’s not calling black white, it’s calling black an elephant and white the catenary curve between fictional states of mind
  • It’s running into the snow yelling clothes make you cold
  • It’s holding your breath because the only people who die are people who breathe
  • It’s a drinking game at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting
  • It’s a Flat Earther telling you that of course we live on a spherical planet—because we all moved to Mars just before the great flood
  • It’s taping over a car’s windshield because the forward view confuses the driver
  • It’s knowing you’ll get the job because your most important qualification is that you have no qualifications at all
  • It’s the picture next to the dictionary definition of imagination’s limit (See also: 16incheswestofpeoria.wp.com)
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About 16incheswestofpeoria

Former bicycle mechanic, current peruser of books, feeder of birds.
This entry was posted in Becoming a bicycle, Equipment and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Les confessions du snob de selle

  1. adventurepdx says:

    I mean, couldn’t the rider just get one of those noseless saddles?

    • That’s what I was thinking at first: you know, Easy Seat. But the big problem isn’t the nose; it’s the fact that he wants his sitting bones sitting away from the saddle. I don’t know of any saddles with that design brief. I think the ultimate would be a padded 2×4 at a 45-degree angle.

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