Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bike column #4

This is the fourth in a series of articles I've written for Atlantic Pedaler E-zine about biking with MS.

Getting to the Bottom of Biking

Because of unrelated health issues, I have been unable to ride my bike since April 30th. Keeping my fingers crossed, I'm going to try a little the first week of June (maybe even as you are reading this) to get ready for the MS Bike Tour. I have been doing a little prep work in advance of getting on the bike, mainly gardening with lots of up and downs, and stairs.

I have mentioned that before I even began riding I spent two months at the gym (makes me sound sooooo athletic, doesn't it?). My reasoning was that I wanted to be able to get on the bike and not be discouraged by lack of physical fitness. And to a degree it worked. I was able to go much farther than I thought I'd be able. The only problem was the seat. I wanted to be comfortable on a bike seat for long periods of time, and at my leisurely pace a regular bike seat just wasn't going to cut it.

The search began for something like a tractor seat. I'm not kidding, either. That's how I phrased it when I went in to Sport Wheels in Lower Sackville. The owner thought about it for a minute, then said, "I've got just the thing". And he came back with the biggest bike seat I've ever seen. It's about a foot across. He told me he got one for his mom's exercise bike. So now I'm feeling a little bit old and decrepit, but I bought it and put it on the bike. Simply put, it is one of the most comfortable seats I've ever sat on. And I don't care how silly it looks (and it does). It generates a lot of interest by on-lookers, I've gotten a few smiles from people, and few expressions of interest in buying it. I often offer to let folks try sitting on it. One day while taking the bike off the car 3 boys came by on skateboards. "Whoa, dudes.....look at the pimped out bike!" At least a few preteens thought I was cool.

I think I understand the reasoning and the physics behind some of those extraordinary bike seats I've seen, you know the ones with holes in them or specially designed to accomodate male genitalia, or the one with the two teeny tiny little pads for a teeny tiny little butt. And I know that speed demons spend little time resting on their laurels, so to speak. I can't imagine getting on one of those things. My giant seat did the trick for my first year of riding. I got a fairly large gel seat for last year's bike tour on my hybrid, but my tractor seat will stay on the mountain bike. The whole point of being more comfortable was to stay longer on the bike and therefore get more exercise. It worked! Someday, I may have a bike built for speed and one of those high tech seats, but I'm no Lance Armstrong and I'm not in a race. I just want to stay upright, finish if I can, and raise money for a worthy cause.




I'm with you on those scrawny, little bike seats! My legs are not usually the FIRST thing that screams at me when on a bike...it's that rearend trailer I pull around! I don't WALK around with a thin bar of padded metal between my legs, so I guess I shouldn't expect my hiny to be happy SITTING on one!

Hope your next ride is fabulous...

Linda D. in Seattle

mdmhvonpa said...

"Whoa, dudes.....look at the pimped out bike!" At least a few preteens thought I was cool.

DAMN woman! You NEED to be the MS spokeswoman! MS is cool! LOL!

Nervus Rex said...

I want the tractor seat! Definitely going to have to hunt one down.

Enjoy your first excursions, and kudos for signing up for the MS Ride!


Joan said...

Do you have any experience with recumbent (sp?) bikes? I used one at physical therapy and loved it, but can't imagine actually riding one on the street for real.

Thanks for riding and we'll be cheering you on!

Shauna said...

I understand the reasoning behind some of those seats. Pro cyclers spend little time sitting or their weight is more forward on the bike as they ride. the next ride will hopefully be this weekend.

I AM the Rona MS Bike Tour spokesperson for the MS Society Atlantic Division....give me a forum and I'll exploit it.

you should be able to find a "real" tractor seat in your part of the world.

I've not tried one of those on the street either, but they do appear very comfortable. That's the best part of the gym...reclining while you work out.