The San Marco Ponza revisited

When I check my Bike Noob stats, one post keeps popping up among the most viewed of a given day — sometimes THE most viewed, even though it originally appeared way back in May. It’s the review I did of my saddle: the Selle San Marco Ponza. I’m pleased that folks looking for saddle info are finding this post and checking it out. But at the rate of eight to 10 times a day? Every day? Why?

You riders out there must really be sore in the nether regions. I can’t think of any other reason to keep searching out this review. So, to add to your information overload, I thought it would be appropriate to update the review, and see how I feel about the saddle now that I’ve had it for six months.

The San Marco Ponza is an inexpensive saddle found as standard equipment on some mid-range bikes, easily available by mail order or over the counter at bike shops. Compared to many standard equipment saddles, it’s a lot narrower, and looks like a racing saddle.


I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that the saddle is less of a factor than bike fit. A couple of weeks ago, while out riding, I noticed my knee was a bit forward. Later at home, I did the plumb bob test. The bob (in my case, a washer hung from a piece of twine) is supposed to land right over the pedal axle. Mine was too far forward. I moved the seat back a little bit.

The next day, on our club ride, the saddle bothered me more than it had recently. Apparently, my bum had gotten used to the forward riding position. But it’s where all the bike fit experts say it should be now. I figured it would just take some getting used to.

But when I went out again two days later, I didn’t even notice the saddle under my bum. I concentrated on cadence on that ride, and never once experienced any discomfort.  The same thing happened Friday, and Saturday, and on a 40-mile ride last Sunday morning.

As I said in my earlier review of the saddle, I like its narrow profile. It’s just wide enough that my sit bones perch atop the saddle wings, but narrow enough that there is no chafing whatever. A slight upsweep at the back cradles my butt in the seat. I can easily shift positions forward and back, depending upon whether I’m climbing, descending, or pushing hard on the flats. The stitched San Marco logo, which is slightly raised above the surface of the seat, hasn’t caused any chafing of my butt, but lately I’ve noticed that several of my shorts are developing a rough spot where they contact the embroidery. We’ll see if that gets any worse with time.

And the beauty of it all — it’s relatively inexpensive for a nice saddle. You can find the new Ponza Lux model (a little more padding) for about $25.

So, should you rush out and buy a Ponza? I’m not making any recommendations. Saddle fit is too personal an issue. Many shops offer a tryout period for saddles — see what the policy is as your shop, and give it a test ride. Just be sure to do a quick fitting first.

What kind of biker are you?

I am a B rider.

As the cooler weather approaches, I’ve been contemplating the upcoming change in my cycling habits. Here in Texas, we can pretty much ride all year.  But experience tells me that I will be cutting back on the amount of saddle time in the weeks to come.

But some of my friends in the club will stay at it, at about the same level they did during the summer. Gets dark earlier? They’ll ride with lights. Gets cold? They’ll bundle up. I see what some of them do, and shake my head. While I love to be on my bike, I’m just not the kind of biker they are.

Which got me to thinking — what kind of biker am I? And for all you Bike Noob readers out there, what kind of biker are you?

Okay, I’ll go first. I’m a “B” rider. I ride at about a 15 mph average. I can’t keep up with the fast riders in my club, but I like to turn out for the longer Sunday morning rides we have. This is why I started leading the B rides in our club. For example, this coming Sunday, we B’s will probably do a 30-mile out-and-back route over some rolling hills. It’s a favorite of mine, especially since they repaved the road, but the rollers make you feel like you’ve put in some serious saddle time.

The A’s, by contrast, are talking about taking the same route, but going much farther out before turning back. Some of them may do an 80-mile round trip. I could do 80 miles, but not now — not without training for it. And even if I trained, I couldn’t do it as fast as most of them.

Actually, I’m pretty happy with where I fit in the biking continuum. I’ve really improved since I took up the sport two years ago. My weight is down, my fitness is up. I enjoy long rides, even ones that wear me out, but I don’t go whacko with them. I also like my 15-milers, where I can turn on the juice, or practice cadence, or attack uphills.

How about you? What kind of biker do you consider yourself to be? Do you ride with the “A” group in your club? Are you primarily a utility biker/commuter? Do you prefer riding long distances on weekends? Or racing? Do you ride for fitness — biking replacing running?

Light up those comments, or send me an email. I’d love to know what kind of riders are out there, just to get a better feel for your riding styles and preferences. Heck, it should even help me do a better job of tailoring this blog to your interests.

Vertigo — Part 2

Guest poster Don Blount continues the story of his recent crash — and its unexpected side effect.

BlountOnBikingI awoke early Saturday, I think it was about 4 a.m., feeling woozy. The bedroom was dark, except for the glow of a smoke detector indicator light on the ceiling. The only problem was that the light was not stationary. It seemed to be zipping clockwise around the room.

I was sweating and nauseous. I staggered a few feet to the bathroom, splashed water on my face and the dizziness went away. I made it back to bed.

Two hours later I was awakened by the same sensation. This time I stumbled to the bathroom and held on to the basin for dear life until the room stopped spinning.

I also hurled. I would do so another nine times that day.

I tried to eat some broth and some crackers but nothing stayed down.

I spent that portion of the day face down on the floor with a bucket next to me.

I remember hearing Bob Griese, Chris Spielman and another broadcaster announcing the Michigan State-Wisconsin game (Michigan State lost). I didn’t have the strength to change the channel. I heard carpet cleaners come and go, and I didn’t want to move for fear of another episode starting.

My wife was on the phone with an advice nurse. Initially it was thought I had some type of head injury from my fall days earlier. It can take up to two weeks for symptoms to develop from a head injury. But when told that every time I moved I got dizzy, the nurse surmised that I could have vertigo.

Vertigo isn’t just an inner ear problem that causes dizziness and imbalance. It can be brought on by a head injury – that was the concern with me. It can also happen for no specific cause in what is known as spontaneous vertigo.

My wife was able to get a 1:45 p.m. appointment at an after hours clinic with our health care provider. She dropped the kids off at friends and came back for me. As we drove to the office, I told her about various bill due dates and passwords she would need. At that point I thought I might have had some type of head injury and may end up unconscious or sedated. She was trying not to cry.

The doctor had me describe my symptoms and do certain balance tests, such as stand on one foot and touch my nose with my eyes closed. I wasn’t drunk, just sick. It wasn’t until I hurled in front of him like Mr. Creosote, the glutton who eats too much and blows up in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life that he had his “Ah Ha” moment.

“I’m going to give you something for the nausea,” he said.

“Thank goodness,” I mumbled to myself.

I received that shot – in the butt, not the arm – at about 3:15 p.m. I was still dizzy but at least I wasn’t queasy. I was sent to the emergency room at another hospital for tests.

We sat in the emergency room for one hour and 40 minutes. A repeat of America’s Funniest Home Videos was airing. I just sat there with my head in my hands, asking my wife every few minutes how long we had been there.

They performed a cat scan and various blood tests but found nothing abnormal.

MezI was given meclizine, a drug used for motion sickness and dizziness.

I was battered but well enough to go home. We left sometime after 8 p.m.

I could function but was far from healed.

The symptoms went away in stages over the next few weeks. I couldn’t tilt my head back or move quickly and I had to sleep propped up too.

Don's new helmet.
Don's new helmet.

It kept me off the bike for nearly a week. I got back on the rollers first and after that went well, was able to convince my doctors to take off the cast and let me wear a soft support — my wrist was still fractured after all. A soft support I could ride with, a cast not easily. I took my bike out on the road the following day.

Don continues to monitor himself for any return of vertigo, which the doctors now say was completely spontaneous. But it can linger.