Monday, February 17, 2014

The Recumbent Cyclist – Saddle Comfort

 This week, we feature a guest post from The Recumbent Cyclist whose motto – “Coming at you in a state of repose” –  is a powerful statement about the issues recumbent cyclists have faced trying to gain acceptance in the (sometimes harsh) culture of mainstream cycling. The motto emphasises that recumbent cyclists are here to stay, they are standing firm and they are ready fight whatever battles are necessary in order to gain some recognition in the cycling community. They have been marginalised for too long and aren’t about to take it lying down – except for when it comes to cycling, obviously.

This article is the first in (what will hopefully become) a regular series of posts highlighting some of the issues facing contemporary recumbentalists.

The Recumbent Cyclist – Saddle Comfort

The Internet is saturated with cycling blogs and websites that are almost exclusively dedicated to cycling in an upright position. As a dedicated recumbent rider for over 25 years now, it saddens me to see such a bias towards upright riders, or perchies as they are known in the recumbent world. The medical benefits of the recumbent cycling position have been well known for many years now and there are also plenty of comfort, speed and even safety benefits. But despite this, the upright cycling mass media marketing machine rolls on, with little more than scant disregard for the recumbent rider.

Here are a few choice Tweets highlighting some people's rather negative view of recumbents.

While the popular derogatory hashtag #Asshats seems a little unnecessary, in this next Tweet a giraffe riding a recumbent bike is used as a strange analogy to Bob Dylan driving a car.

And there have even been calls for certain recumbent riders to be involuntarily euthanased.

I am grateful to The Private Cyclist for giving me this opportunity to raise awareness for recumbent riders across the globe. In this first post, I will be discussing an issue that almost any cyclist, who has spent sufficient time on a bicycle, will be familiar with – saddle comfort.

Any more than a few hours on the wrong saddle can cause quite a bit of discomfort for many cyclists. Painful saddle sores are also a problem, which, if left untreated, can lead to infection and, in some cases, even keep a cyclist off the bike. The type of saddle that you choose can play a big part in your comfort level.

For upright riders, there are countless saddle options to suit different styles of riding and different physiological shapes.
There are saddles designed to help relieve pressure or prevent numbness, specific saddles for females and males and, if you are a professional cyclist, even saddles designed to provide your genitals with some entertainment while you sit on the bike.
And then there was this masterpiece of design and engineering that somehow never gained popularity.

Many of the comfort and medical issues traditionally associated with upright cycling can be overcome by simply moving to a recumbent bicycle, where the position of repose distributes body weight much more kindly. This alleviates a lot of the pressure from the sensitive undercarriage region. In fact, for many male recumbent cyclists, a phrase commonly used is “lie prostrate and save your prostate!”.

But even recumbent cyclists might start to encounter some comfort issues after extended time in the saddle, or rather, the chair. Unfortunately there are just not that many different options available for those who choose to recline. My advice to fellow recumbent riders who need to relieve some pressure during extended rides is to invest in a good cushion.
Donut cushions come in many varied designs – including the donut – and can relieve sitting well as assisting with any haemorrhoid issues that may be present.

While you may not have the myriad of saddle choices available to upright riders, a huge benefit of the recumbent is that you can just add any regular cushion to your seat in order to improve comfort.

You can find a range of different cushions at your local medical supplies, haberdashery or homewares store – even Ikea probably has something to suit your eye for mass-produced, designer-inspired, affordability.

Once you invest in a good cushion, there is nothing that can impinge on your enjoyment – except maybe for the derision of certain perchies, who are no doubt just jealous of your ridiculously comfortable lounge-cycling position.

The Recumbent Cyclist aims to serve as a voice for those cycling enthusiasts who willingly choose to lie down.

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