Noseless Saddles – My Two Cents Worth

Caveat:  I do not own a noseless saddle, and I don’t know anyone who does. I did do some research to determine whether they’re the kind of thing road bikers would like. These are my conclusions based on that research. Take what I say here with a grain of salt.

A recent New York Times article extolls the virtues of noseless saddles. They mostly eliminate pressure on the perineum (the soft tissues down below) and make for a more comfortable ride. They also prevent erectile dysfunction in men that can result from repeatedly squishing your naughty bits against a saddle’s nose.

Nexride - it pivots.

I was intrigued by the article, and followed its links to different saddle makers to learn more about what’s out there. There are a lot more of them — by more different makers — than I thought.

Some offer what amounts to a bench. The Nexride is one of these, but pivots 15 degrees left to right as your butt flexes with each pedal stroke.

Others make a special effort to cushion the sit bones. The Hobson Easy Seat is one such example. Two padded cushions cradle the sit bones, and there is no saddle nose to squish the perineum.

Easyseat

Or, the seat could be shaped like a crescent, to cushion the sit bones in a slightly different way. The ISM Sport model exemplifies these types.

One recurring theme soon became apparent:

Noseless saddles are mostly for upright riding.

The saddle websites say so. Here’s just a sample of what you can find:

The ISM Sport.

The Hobson Easy Seat: “NOTE: The best position for the seat is sitting upright with handle bars positioned upward.”

Comfort Saddle: “The Comfort Saddle is best suited for cyclists who prefer to sit upright.”

ISM Sport: “Designed for more upright types of riding such as hybrids or light trail riding.”

But most readers of this blog are roadies. We don’t sit upright on our bikes, except to take a few minutes rest during a long ride. So as good as these saddles sound, they might not be the solution for us.

However, one of the companies in the noseless saddle business — ISM — might have the answer. They make the upright kinds of saddles just as their competitors do, but they also make oddly-shaped saddles with a split nose that is supposed to accomplish the same thing — take pressure off the perineum.

ISM Adamo Road.

ISM produces a range of different saddles, geared for riders from time trialists to recreational road riders. The saddle pictured here is the ISM Adamo Road. It has two “arms” in front with a relatively wide gap between them — and the arms do not meet at the front. The design is supposed to prevent blood loss from compression of the soft tissue, as well as keep weight off the perineum and on the sit bones.

A check of various equipment review sites finds anecdotal support for the benefits of the ISM saddle. It boils down to this: The wide cutout between the two nose parts eases pressure on the soft tissues. The fact that there is still a “nose” of sorts to the saddle allows riders to have a similar sensation as a nosed saddle.

ISM saddles retail for a low of $119 to a high of $224, depending on the model. I’ve said before that I’m happy with my $25 WTB saddle. But when it’s time to replace it, I’ll be looking closely at an ISM.

Sunblock – Don’t Leave Home Without It

When the Bike Noob goes in for his annual physical exam each September, the doctor looks at his biker’s tan and asks if he uses sunblock. “SPF 30 or better,” he says. “Good. Be sure you do,” the doc answers. But today, guest poster Don Blount looks at sunblock from a different perspective.

Like many cyclists, my pre-ride preparation changes with the weather. In the fall and winter I check my warmers, long-fingered gloves and pack a rain jacket, just in case.

During the summer, instead of donning a wool cycling cap, one of the things I do before heading out on a ride is put on sunblock.

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More than 3.5 million skin cancers in over two million people are diagnosed annually, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. And about 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVA and UVB) from the sun.

Now the truth is that African Americans are less likely than whites to develop skin cancer thanks to the additional pigment in dark skin. Skin cancer represents only about two percent of all cancers in African Americans.

Sunblocks, such as zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, protect against the UV rays that cause sunburn and skin cancer.

I wear sunblock because the odds are not in my favor if I were to come down with skin cancer. The survival rate among African Americans stricken with the disease is 77 percent compared to a 91 percent survival rate among whites.

A large reason for that unfavorable figure is because skin cancer is more difficult to detect in people with dark skin. And if it is found, it is often at a much more advanced stage.

I have known plenty of people who have had moles or some other type of lesions burned off because the doctors said they were the effects of sun damage.

It seems simple enough to not take a risk.

So I slather on the skin protectant before heading out for a ride. Whether the brand is Aveeno, Neutrogena, Banana Boat or some other type of sunblock — you should do so too.

B Rides Are the Best

After last week’s rant about giving up on club rides, I got an email from someone who suggested that if I were to lead a B ride, which I hinted at in the post, he and a friend would join in. Since neither of them had been on a club ride before, I was happy to encourage them — so I announced on the club’s group site that I would be leading a B ride to Buda, Texas today.

It’s an easy 30-miler. I figured the ride would attract others who hadn’t been doing club rides. But I wasn’t prepared for the number that came out. We had eight in all. Debra and her husband Russ, who usually ride in Dripping Springs; Jerry, who is really an A-level rider but seems to prefer the laid back approach of the B rides; Barbara, whom I’ve met before when riding with Debra; and the newcomers — Denise, Mike, and Patrick, who instigated the whole thing.

As and Bs intermingle before the start of today’s ride.

I think we outnumbered the A group this morning. It didn’t matter, because soon after the start, some of us got caught at a stoplight, so the As were able to break away and were soon gone.

We Bs settled into a steady pace, and quickly put down the first several miles. Mike, who rode a hybrid, caught up to me on a wide, smooth downhill.

“Howya doin’?” I asked.

“Fine,” he said. “When we [he and Patrick] ride together, we average about 13. So this is at the outside edge of my ability.”

We were probably averaging about 15 mph.

“But I think that’s always just been a mental barrier, and I think I can crack it today,” he added.

He had no trouble keeping up for the rest of the ride.

New riders. From left to right: Patrick, Mike, Denise.

Barbara arrives at the convenience store.

 

We got to Buda (pronounced BYOO-duh), a small town just south of Austin, in about an hour. First stop was a convenience store, where Patrick bought a gallon of cold water and refilled everyone’s water bottles. But the convenience store offered no shelter from the bright sun, so we headed back a few blocks to the town’s gazebo, in a little park along Main Street.

Patrick tops off Denise’s water bottle.

Bikers are common in Buda on weekends, because it’s either a destination or a pass-through on several area bike routes. The gazebo is popular among more than bikers, though. We knew it was time to leave when a bride walked up to have her picture taken.

Bikes and brides — just another Sunday morning in Buda, Texas.

The route back was equally uneventful. No flats, no mechanicals, no dogs (although one of our club members suffered mild injuries when a dog went after him on this route the previous day). As we worked our way back into Austin, Patrick and Mike peeled off from the group when we got to their neighborhood. We hope to see them again on future rides. The remainder made it back to our starting place, and several of us stuck around for brunch and chatter.

The brunch bunch, left to right: Jerry, Barbara, Russ, Debra.

We didn’t set any speed records — I wound up with a 14.9 mph average — but we had a ride that everyone seemed to like, and most said they’d like to do things like this again. I’ll bet we do.