Tuesday, April 26, 2011

If the Saddle Fits...

Bontrager Affinity Saddle Review.

Since returning to cycling in the last few years I have noticed many changes in equipment.  One major change was the saddle designs that most bike racers have now.  The new designs looked lighter and appear to alleviate the discomforts and pain of racing and training - some that is.

Fear held me back - specifically,  the fear of change that can delay the inevitable move to something better.  I have had a Rolls saddle since the late eighties and only used another brand once in 1994 when my team and sponsors gave me an ultimatum while on the national race circuit.  Since they controlled the flow of money while we were on the road, they controlled whether we could eat.  So  I quickly complied, switched saddles, and was immediately sorry.  

I experienced problems with the new saddle that would not be well received in a blog post, so we will skip the details.  That set the stage for when Taylor and I switched to Trek 2.3 racing bikes this year.  I was very excited since the bikes represented upgrades at every level, but also slightly worried about the saddle.  It looked different and menacing perched high up on the seat post the first time I saw it.  

Our first experience on the bike was a club ride to 7 mile and back. Any time you transition to a new bike there will be some stops for minor positioning adjustments - this ride was no exception.  I spoke to Geoff a couple of times during the ride about discomfort I was experiencing from the saddle, but he said this was normal when transitioning to a new saddle and position.  I could tell even on that first ride that the minor discomfort was not like the disaster when I raced.  My weight was distributed differently now, and the muscle seemed to be absorbing the contact instead of the softer more sensitive areas in which I hope to avoid damage. Geoff just said, give it some time and I did.

Two to three more rides conditioned my body to a point where sitting on the saddle for a few hours no longer an issue.  Last week I was at the shop waiting for the pizza to arrive after the shop ride, and was looking at the saddles on the sales rack.  I found the white Bontrager Affinity 2 saddle that matched the one on my bike and looked at the brochure that describes the science behind it.  It had a picture of the weight distribution, pressure mapping and the health benefits that accompany the new design. You can see how the contours remove pressure, improve blood flow and support the rider. These guys had clearly done a lot of ground-breaking research when it comes to how anatomy is/is not supported by saddle design. 

It basically described my experience with this new design, except for the silly feeling of not making a switch a little sooner.  

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