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.