It is difficult to get more heretical than suggesting that one needn’t wear a helmet all the time, and then actually riding without one.
However, there is for sure an area even more locked into orthodoxy than helmet use, and it’s the area of saddle height. Basically, the rule of saddle height is that it should not be too high and that it should not be too low, in effect it’s the Goldilocks Law: It better be fuggin’ just right.
Experimenting with saddle height is a no-no. You must find the Goldilocks and never vary it so much as a millimeter, especially a millimeter. Such varying will cause tendinitis, back spasms, pattern baldness, and death.
So crucial is the Goldilocks that in order to find it, you must have a scientifically based bike fit that meets all ergonomic and phrenological parameters. Otherwise you will fritter away watts, get even more pattern baldness in worse places than your head, and die.
What are friends for?
The other day I was riding with Friend and Friend was talking about how awesome Friend’s bike was. Actually, it wasn’t Friend’s bike, it was a bike Friend had borrowed from another Friend, and that Friend had sold the bike Friend was on to another Friend, such that Friend was actually keeping it prior to shipping to Friend and had decided to take it for a spin to make sure it was Up to Snuff for Friend and to adjust it and stuff.
I am not great with bike talk. “How come you like it?” I asked.
Friend said many things but my understanding of the answers was limited. “Is it light?” I asked, trying to be bike-intelligent.
“Can I pick it up?”
I picked it up. “It is a lot heavier than my bike,” I said.
Friend was disappointed and disbelieving until Friend picked up my bike. “Wow, your bike is a lot lighter.”
“Would you like to try it?”
“Sure. But the saddle is way too high.”
So I lowered the saddle and Friend tried it out. “Don’t you want to raise the seat on that?” Friend asked as we swapped bikes.
“No,” I said. “It’s fine. It’s just a bike.”
“How can it be fine? That is a 54 with the saddle mostly down, and you ride a 56 with the saddle up in the cumulonimbus and even then your legs are bent a little. How can it be fine?”
My knees were grazing the underside of the bars on the upstroke. “It’s just a bike,” I said. “It’s fine.”
Not fake news
We pedaled up Hawthorne, which is about 4 miles uphill. I felt a lot of leg muscles I didn’t know I had. Halfway up we switched bikes again, but even though Friend had shoved my seat post down all the way, I left it there. “Aren’t you going to raise it?”
“No,” I said. “It’s just a bike. It’s fine.”
I rode the rest of the way up Hawthorne all scrunched up, like a BMX bike. It felt weird but oddly it was easier to pedal. Partly that was because I was using lots of thigh muscle, and partly it was because when I am shoved down on my bike I don’t catch very much wind, and normally I stick up like a giraffe and can never get a draft off anyone except Davy and Pischon. I was down so low and tiny there wasn’t much wind down there in the scuppers.
Today I went out for a ride and raised the saddle, but kept it awfully low. My knees didn’t break and no male pattern baldness broke out. The absence of wind and the thigh-mashing seemed to work as well as they had the day before.
The only down side was the worst possible thing in cycling; it looked bad. So bad that I’d never get to buy one of those Team Fred Mackey jerseys with the coat of arms.
I decided to take it out on the NPR next week and see how things go. I will keep you posted.
Some things you can mess with. Saddle height isn’t one of them. After all, what did Eddy know? Click here and select the “subscribe” link in the upper right-hand corner. Thank you!