Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Cars are hard, Cyclists are not, Part II...in pursuit of the happy medium

Yesterday we discussed why the statement "Cars are hard, cyclists are not" might be more poignant than what the anti-cyclist Facebook group which uses the slogan realizes.  Doing a little reading on the subject makes me realize that this classic Klein ad might be at risk for losing its amusement altogether.

I poked a little fun at an article entitled "Cutting off the nose to save the penis" which refers to the fact that in a number of different studies, the use of noseless bicycle saddles has resulted in decreased frequency of genital and perineal numbness and erectile dysfunction.  I was excited (and afraid) to see Dr. Shrader, lead investigator of the referenced study, respond to the post, correct my errors in interpretation and provide some more information on his research ensuring the following things:

1.  The cops they studied were in pretty good shape.
2. Each cop served as their own control - in other words, there was no possibility to have one group of cops that possessed a confounding variable which artifically diminished their penile sensitivity.
3.  The penile tactile tester isn't really that much fun to use.

The relationship between cycling and sexual dysfunction has seen a surge of interest in the last several years, a decade after a leading expert in urogenital health, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, originally made headlines by writing an article for Bicycling magazine titled, "Men Should Never Ride Bicycles."  Despite controversy, Dr. Goldstein is still at it and in 2008 published an editorial in the same issue of the Journal of Sexual Medicine in which Dr. Shrader published his article:

But men are not alone in the potential impact of traditional bike saddles on sexual function. In 2006, the first paper assessing the potential impact of female cyclists on genital sensation and sexual function was completed.

In this study, female cyclists were compared with female runners with respect to genital sensitivity, sexual function and sexually related distress.  The subjects were all volunteers recruited from racing events, flyers and online solicitations.  When the test subjects were age-matched and examined, it was determined that cyclists had less sensitivity than runners at all genitally-oriented anatomic sites examined.  Despite this, sexual function appeared to be similar between the two groups.

So what are we to make of this?  As with many things in life, we make choices and concessions with most everything we do.  Everything has a risk/benefit ratio. Yes, I know eating an entire block of asiago cheese is not good for me, but the benefit of my immediate enjoyment of it makes it worthwhile.  But perhaps I only need to eat half the block, and thus find a happy medium. Could the happy medium with respect to bicycle saddles lie in the noseless variety? 

Among the complaints with noseless saddles includes inability to adequately steer and the constant feeling of falling forward.  And there is no possible way to "Ride the Rivet" if there is no 'rivet'.

Yet another alternative I discovered is called the Manta Saddle.  This is a multi-ribbed platform which moves and articulates with the cyclist's ass and resembles...., I guess, a manta ray swimming.

Going to the manufacturer's website, one will find a plethora of photographs, animations and testimonials on this little number.  My favorite of which is this one...

...which shows a cyclist who is sitting on the edge of a reflecting pool, pondering why he has ridden his Specialized fixie into the water, and moreso, why his hair is styled in a fashion reminiscent of what one would find in the pubic region.  Perhaps he is trying to lure a manta ray to the surface for more prototyping work.

But maybe Alberto Contador is on to the answer.  As I looked in my new VeloNews, which arrived yesterday, I stumbled upon this advertisement for the new Selle Italia SLR Team Edition.  He too is sitting close to water and acting contemplative regarding his saddle.

As the advertisement states, it possesses the "The Bearable" Lightness of Being, as apparently so too does AC, levitating above the dock in his Astana kit, draped in the fashion of a Buddhist monk, in an enlightened state.

Of course there might be other ways to achieve a happy medium regarding bicycle saddles which will both encourage perineal blood flow while proving adequate saddle support....

More tomorrow!

Pedal on!

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