Well, well, well… I had a really interesting ride last night. When I got home I pulled out my 4′ level and set my saddle back to level (from nose slightly up) which got me back down into the drops a lot more comfortably.
Before I tested that on the road though, Mrs. Bgddy and I took the kids out for a 5-1/2 mile game of bike tag. Now, the game is hugely unfair, but we do what we can even it up and make it fun, and safe – we play on dirt roads and when cars are coming in either direction, the game is suspended until all is clear. The cool thing is that since we started this, we’ve gone from a whine filled “are we there yet” 8 minute mile ride to a laughter filled 6 minute mile.
If you’ve been keeping up on the math, since Sunday, I changed my saddle location and the angle three times now. I changed from what I knew was the proper location (as measured by the standard location methods) because after 700 miles on my new bike, I couldn’t get over the idea that I shouldn’t feel like I was slightly arching my back to get into the drops – this was a hips and lower back issue – upper body was perfect. When I picked the bike up from the shop, after my first test ride on it, I immediately moved the saddle up (toward the front wheel) about a full centimeter, where I’d left it until Sunday. During that ride I moved it back about 8 mm and nosed the saddle up just a bit, just to see how I felt. That was too far back, but I did like the nose up so for Tuesday’s ride I moved it up half the distance (4 mm) but left the nose up, slightly off level. Moving the saddle up didn’t bode well with leaving the nose raised. I ended up having a tough time staying in the drops because the saddle angle supported a more upright riding position.
Anywho, when we got back I changed shoes and headed out for what was supposed to be an easy twelve miles to see what I thought of the new-new saddle position in this ongoing look at monkeying with my bike so I could write about it here and so I could maybe use my quads (the big muscles) a little more… I really liked having the saddle level a lot more for riding in the drops – I only rode on the hoods at intersections the whole twelve miles and I had some fairly shocking and excellent results. First of all, my legs were quite tired on Tuesday, even after a day off after my solo Sunday 75, but I muddled through with the small group I rode with for a fairly respectable 21 mph average (Warm up: 16 mph + Club Ride 21 mph = 20 mph average overall)… Which meant they were darn near dead last night. Bike tag helped loosen me up quite a bit but I wasn’t expecting much when I walked out the door so I put my phone in the back pocket, shut the sound down and just went by feel…
I started out fairly slowly, building to a nice sustainable pace, in the drops. I slowed considerably at my first 2-way stop and made the turn then got back to that sustainable pace… So it went for the whole twelve miles – stop sign to slow down or stop at every mile or two, etc… When I passed my driveway I pulled the phone out and looked at the over-all:
The dips in speed are all stop signs and ate up a good 45 seconds off of my time – I rarely stop fully, but semi-track stand until traffic clears so I lose a lot of time for having to stop… The point is, I comfortably held 21-23 mph speeds through much of the ride with little trouble, on half-dead legs and pulled out almost a 20 mph average. My saddle is staying right where I’ve got it, 4 mm back from what I thought was perfect. I’ll spend the next couple of weeks making sure I’m comfortable as is, that no hot-spots crop up as a result of moving it back but not lowering it (which is standard by the way – if you move it forward, raise it, if you move it back, lower it).
So, the point to this whole exercise, and why I bothered in the first place:
1). I learned early on, never be afraid to tinker with the bike and mess around with the setup a little bit if something doesn’t feel right. I can’t screw it up enough that the shop can’t fix what I did wrong.
2). While small moves are wisest, every once in a while why not shake it up to see what happens? I learned something very valuable about my setup because of this attitude and I should be able to ride faster because of it.
3). Bike experiments are cool.
The first post on the saddle fore/aft location is here.
Part One of the Experiment is Here
Part Two is Here.
UPDATE: Fast again! Now I’m bummed I didn’t try this sooner!
UPDATE II: After a week at that position I caved and split the difference again. Now I’m only 2 mm back from where I started but I haven’t found it necessary to mess with it at all since.