Last night was my big club ride and as I wrote I would do yesterday, I moved my saddle forward (towards the front wheel) 4mm but kept the nose raised slightly from dead-level. Sunday I had moved it back about 8mm and nosed it up just as a fun little experiment to see how it would feel because I felt just a little bit arched in the back. Prior to that move, I had my bike set up so that I was in the perfect position over the pedals and from the drops, hoods and bar tops but I changed that to see what it would be like to be stretched out a little more.
My initial conclusion to the experiment was that the nose up was helpful in opening my hips up but that the saddle was just a little too far back and though it definitely stretched me out nicely, it was just too much.
The change last evening amounted to splitting the difference with the saddle location while leaving the saddle at the same angle (off level, nose up).
My final conclusion to the experiment, unfortunately, will require another move this evening though because my initial reaction to the nose being raised was a bit naïve and incorrect.
This is the important part of the post for those interested…
First, a little bit of background about the ride yesterday… I was 2/3’s of the way done with my warmup when I passed my buddy Phil heading out with a tandem and several other cyclists from the slower group (15-17 mph average). My legs were feeling quite smoked still from Sunday’s 75 mile adventure so I wasn’t looking too forward to a 22-23 mph effort with the main group (they ended up over 25 mph – good God!), so I told Mike that I was going to head out with Phil and turned around… When I got to the group, Phil and the tandem had taken off to blaze their own way at a faster pace – which meant that I had some catching up to do but they were already out of eye-shot and around a corner so I had no idea how much I had to make up. I reached for the drops and took off as fast as I could sustain. When I rounded the corner I had about a mile to make up so I set to it. I was up between 22 & 23 mph until I caught them about 5 miles in.
In other words, I’d just spent about 14 minutes giving her everything I had in the drops so I was able to evaluate how I felt, at least in the drops… The saddle position wasn’t bad but the nose up had to go. As one might imagine, having the nose up and being in the drops, as far down as I have them on my bike, put just a little too much pressure on Mr. Happy.
For the rest of the 33 ride we maintained a fairly steady 21 mph and the tandems (we picked up another one) did a lot of pulling so I spent quite a bit of time on the hoods, and that’s where I noticed the plus side of having the saddle nosed up… It kept me in the perfect position to ride on the hoods. My back felt straight and strong, there was no pressure as described earlier (ahem). I felt incredibly well supported by the saddle.
So here’s the latest little twist to the conclusion: I ride with my bar somewhere in the middle of the average road cyclist and the pros so I have a pretty long way down to the drops. Also, my hoods do not sit on top of the bend of my handlebars, they extend on the same line (see photo). Because I do ride so much in the drops and I want it to be comfortable, I have to take my saddle back to level and re-evaluate. However, for those who tend to ride in a more upright fashion, riding with the nose of the saddle up may be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t be afraid to give that a try, just remember, we’re not talking about huge moves here.
And speaking of huge moves, Tracey Wilkins, AKA the Springfield Cyclist, commented to suggest that moving the saddle back should be accompanied by lowering it as well. Also, that smaller moves would have been more, um, intelligent. He’s right on both counts. There are two reasons for my divergent attitude. First, I had my multi-tool with me so I could have moved it back if I’d felt any discomfort (I didn’t). Second, when this is all over, within the next couple of weeks (after my LBS owner gets back from his cycling vacation in Spain (or was it Italy), I’ll be getting a full Body Geometry, Specialized approved, fitting… I literally can’t screw my bike up enough that the fitting won’t cure.
The initial post that started this is here.