After riding bikes for so many years, and specifically riding a bike for 2,800 miles this summer, I feel compelled to share what I know with people that want to know. In the last year, I've come to know a ton of great women in Philadelphia who also cycle and/or want to cycle more. And from this crowd I hear consistent murmurings about saddle pain and riding limitations due to discomfort.
I have always wanted to host a saddle "swap" of sorts, but I was recently inspired by the Golden Saddle Cyclery's workshop to actually do it. I firmly believe that this is not a women's-only issue, but it's nice to have a safe space where you can say labia -like- out loud. I partnered with Shelly Salomon of Fairmount and Brewerytown Bicycles, because she has an unusually expansive and awesome demo saddle program. Here's what went down:
Intro and Anatomy
Of course, we kicked off with some hellos, warm cider and wine. Then we jumped straight into a discussion about the anatomy of your pelvis, which included a brief showing of this excellent video by Bicycle Lab: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-wdfEcedq8
We also talked about the different kinds of saddles and how one might use a different saddle for a different types of riding. E.g., You probably don't want to ride a mountain bike saddle on a multi-day tour.
Airing of Grievances
Then we jumped into a deeper discussion of women's anatomy, and why it's so important to find a saddle that supports your sit bones. We opened it up for questions and the airing of grievances. Who doesn't want to vent about the saddle that's inducing pain, numbness, and general displaced aggression on longer rides, right?
Measuring of Sitz Bones
Next, we measured everyone's sit bones by a super low-tech but brilliant method. It involved cardboard, chalk, and some wiggling around. The sit bones don't always contact the saddle, but the width of these bones is a good proxy for the width of saddle you should aim to get.
Time in the Saddle
We had three bikes setup with different saddles. The women would pick out a saddle that seemed to fit their sit bones based on the worksheet that we created, and we'd throw that saddle on the tester bike. We had different bikes to simulate different riding positions. Some saddles brought a smile of revelation, others brought a scrunched up nose seal of disapproval. All in all, there were some overall favorites, among them, the Selle Anatomica X-series and the Brooks Carved Cambium.
I did this workshop in partnership with Shelly Salomon of Fairmount Bicycles and Brewerytown Bicycles. She's got a fabulous demo saddle program, and allowed the women to take saddles home for a week to try them out.
I think if I did this again, I'd make sure that all the women brought their cycling shorts for the trainer test session. Big thanks to Shelly for ordering a bunch of demos and helping me make this happen!