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A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams

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girls

Sella Italia Lady Saddle

For the last week I’ve been riding around on this lovely saddle.

It’s the Sella Italia SLR Lady Flow in black with silver and pink detail.

On the colors alone I want to own this saddle.

Comparing it to my Mantra, you can see it has a seriously beautiful cutout and a wider, flatter flare at the back. At the same time, the length of the cutout is actually shorter and the nose a little bit wider. Riding it around gave the type of feeling one would expect from such a set up.

image

My butt was clearly happier on the SLR Lady Flow than on the Mantra. I could feel my sit bones resting smack on top of the smooth, flat platform of the saddle. At 185 grams, you’d think it would be made out of a single sheet of carbon fiber, but it actually has quite a bit of padding — not squishy, but firm and supportive.

I put about 250 kilometers on this saddle. Fifty of those kilometers were a single, long, interminable hill climb out in Yamanashi prefecture. The rest were my usual commuting mix of tempo, sprint and general spinning. I do a lot of dicking around on my cross bike (Pikuro) and so I’m in and out of the saddle a lot, even on the road. I track stand every stop light.

At this point I have to qualify my review. I’m giving it a “5/5” review because it was every bit as comfortable as the Mantra. What’s that, you say? I thought you said your butt was happier than on the Mantra? It is. But my clit is not. Despite the beautiful cutout, something in the shape of the saddle constantly tipped my pelvis forward. My clitoris and upper labia were squished up against the front edge of the cutout and no matter how high I tipped the saddle back (embarassingly high), scooted it forward, or tried to tuck my pelvis under consciously as I rode, my genitals were subjected to that same frustrating numbness that makes me fear for their continued viability.

As a final caveat, I should also mention that my bottom is a veritable wasteland of saddle sores and razor burn. I’m training for the longest ride of my life (by a factor of two!) and I’ve put more miles in the saddle in the last two weeks than I would average in a month at any period of time in my life before ever. So there is a decent chance that if my butt wasn’t already trashed that I would be more willing to weight it, thus taking the pressure of my genitals subconsciously. It’s also possible, and I know this happens to me with fatigue, that my recent training has done a number on my form and my core muscles’ ability to support my pelvic area. For these reasons, and because the saddle is exactly the colors that I want!, I am considering buying it anyway even though the overall performance does not actually improve over my current setup.

女子練!Girl Ride!

Today I had the privilege of joining the Kunitachi Giant Store girls’ morning practice. Tired of getting dragged around by boys who always wanted to ride courses that were too steep, or who wouldn’t wait for them, they decided to organize a special practice. Compared to what I usually put my body through, it was a walk in the park. We did a 25 km loop around Saiyama lake, which is a lovely shaded, winding, slightly rolling bike course. It took about an hour and a half, so slower than I usually ride, but still enough to get a sweat going.

Part way through the shop owner had to take off for some work that he forgot about, and so the last 40 minutes or so was just us girls. That was when I finally got to see their true colors. Far from having no desire to ride, they mostly just felt overwhelmed. No matter how hard they tried, it was never enough for the boys — a girl just can’t keep up, and it’s unfair for a boy to expect them to.

I felt like I had finally found people who could understand me. We were all struggling against the same obstacles, and like so much else in the world we were made to feel like we were lacking because the bar, and all the rules, were set by boys, for boys.

On the way home it dawned on me, the solution to all of our problems. The boys make the girls feel bad about themselves because they don’t give us any credit for trying despite an extremely unfair disadvantage. The girls in turn wear the boys out because they are reluctant to subject themselves to more machismo. I, however, am both male and female and I can speak both languages. I can tolerate the boys’ crazy training concepts, learn from them, and make my own body stronger. I can then give what I learn to the girls in a way that I know will preserve their desire to ride, and maybe even grow it. The shop wins because it gets staff that know more and care more about bikes. The girls win because they get to practice without the pressure and abuse. And I win because I get to say that someone has to train me (Thunder, I’m 100% talking about you, here!), and I get to get faster while at the same time finally having people to ride with.

And I get to be team captain! Duh.

初100㌔ First 100 Km

Yesterday I rode my first 100 km bike ride! It was all kinds of awesome. I’ve done 50 miles, which is about 80k, but I’ve never done 100. Actually total was 114, including a dash to and from the train station at night.

I rode with the Kunitachi Giant Store staff including 3 girls, the shop owner and the hottest pair of professional cycling legs this side of the ocean! There was so much happy I would have exploded except that I used my pedals to focus all that energy.

We rode from Kunitachi to Enoshima (江ノ島) where we had delicious sashimi rice on the seashore. Along the way I got to see some girl butts on bikes! I always ride with guys because either there are no girls who want to ride, or the girls who ride are too squeemish to do serious work on a bike and I get bored. So it was a real treat for me to ride with the shop girls. I even got passed on a hill by my new rival, Ms. Tabuchi!

The guy who joined us, with his thighs thick enough for about 2 normal sized legs a piece, is a former pro racer on the Japanese national road bike team. He still races now, but I don’t know the details about his team membership. Most of the time he was zipping past us to burn up some hill, or ride off road along our cycling path, and then swing around behind us to catch us before the next stoplight turned green. But for one moment, he and I were lounging on our frames waiting for the group to catch up and he says to me, “If I had my way I would ride bikes all day every vacation day I ever had.” I realized suddenly that I was in the presence of another one with The Sickness*. I didn’t think it was possible, but he got even hotter that moment.

After lunch we rode home at a brisker pace than we rode out. I was happy because the nonbiri (lazy) 13 kph pace we started with was making the prospect of 100 km seem miserable. Rain clouds started to blow in from over the ocean and we raced them back to the city. One of the girls had leant me her shop shorts, my first bib shorts, and I was grateful for the padding on my saddle-sore ridden butt, but more over I was grateful to be a part of the team.

There is nothing like the feeling of knowing that you belong. I kept grinning to myself knowing that everyone who saw us on the road would see me and know that we were together that day. It was an awesome, awesome ride.


*The Sickness: Needing, for no good reason, to ride bikes, race bikes, train on bikes or play with bike parts basically every day. In other words, where normal people would think you’re crazy because you already own or ride bikes more than enough, you can’t help yourself and go out for more.

Fi’zi:k Antares Versus

Saddle Dimensions:
Specs: Shell: Nylon Carbon reinforced L: 274mm W: 142mm

The fi’zi:k antares versus for chamaleons is a great saddle. It made friends with my butt pretty immediately after hopping up on the bike. The padding level is enough to take the edges off, but not mushy. It has a pretty light feel, and a simple but effective shape.

Unlike the Mantra, the fi’zi:k was not love at first sit, but it also gave me roughly the same riding sensations for up to an hour and a half of pedaling. The saddle is flat on the top and gives good support to the sit bones. It doesn’t ride up between my pelvic bones like the Mantra, either. At the same time, the center cutout is not as effective as the Mantra’s. It runs the whole length of the saddle, which means that my clitoris was happily supplied with proper oxygen throughout my whole ride. On the other hand it is a straight cut out with no flare so while my clitoris got some needed pressure relief, my labia had to bear the weight in return.

fi'zi:k chamaleon side
Chamaleon side view: 8º, full forward position

One other feature of the Antares bears noting: the nose is significantly wider than almost every other saddle I’ve ridden. I wasn’t bothered by the additional width. It felt comfortable and secure. Whether the saddle is made of particularly slick material or it is just tapered very well from butt to nose, I didn’t notice any additional friction from the wide saddle, just a presence in my mind that I’m sure would go away if I could put in a few more hours on it.

The fi'zi:k chamelion is in the background
You can see (in the back) how the groove extends the whole way

Over all I wish I could have had more time with the antares. I put in one 25K ride and two 10-15K rides and didn’t have any difficulties at all. The cutout protects my precious clitoris even if it isn’t as kind to my labia, and the back of the saddle is very gentle on my sit bones. It’s a great saddle and I would almost say it wins over the Mantra except for the fact that given the choice between risking sexual dysfunction (Antares) and risking saddle sores and ass bruises (Mantra), I have to go with the latter. The discomfort levels are close, but the location is always going to have to err in favor of the genitals. That said I highly recommend this saddle to any female riders serious enough to put in the time and the distance and interested in protecting their lady-bits along the way.

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