Friday, July 13, 2012

on saddles, on a saddle

saddles have been on my mind lately.
it started a few weeks ago when I rode from huntsville up east to monte cristo.
the monte cristo range is a 30-mile stretch, part of the larger wasatch mountain range.  highway 39 runs through it, and peaks at mt. mckinnon, 9081 feet above sea level.  it's about a 25-mile ride from huntsville to the top . . . or, well, that's what today's post is all about.
because each time I've ridden up this road I've thought I've reached the top.
until this last ride, when I realized I'd never before made it all the way through the top.

sometimes cyclists (and, admittedly, other humans as well) will talk about a false summit.  this can be either a decline or a leveling off after a high point on a climb--where you think you've reached the summit--which then turns into a further ascent.
the mt. nebo road has about 5 heart-breaking false summits:  upon reaching each one, you coast down its backside and lose just about everything you gained climbing its front, before doing the exact same thing again, and again.
the back side of big mountain has one that thrills me each time I reach it because (1) I need the break, and (2) it tells me I'm almost done with the climb.

monte cristo, however, has what I have decided to call a saddle.  it stretches for a few miles at the top, and it rolls and bit up, a bit down, a bit straight across.  you never feel as though there's a single, specific spot called the summit.  it's just an elongated saddle.
saddles are fine with me:  after all that work of getting up there, it's okay to have little climbs, little descents, and periods of relatively flat.

so I'd been thinking about saddles.
and then john noticed that my bike saddle was looking awfully worn, with a small spot where the top layer had actually peeled off.
how many miles do you think you've ridden on this saddle?
um, gee, let me think (my eyes roll up to the ceiling as I calculate), um, maybe 20,000 or so?
john bought me a new saddle.

and then I started wondering just how long a saddle should last.
a quick internet search told me that it can be calculated in hours spent riding (duh, darn good way to look at it!), and that 400-600 hours is a good maximum.
mine's had a good 1300 hours.
you can also go with a general 10,000 miles, 15,000 miles, or whatever number of miles someone throws out.
or, my favorite advice, ride a saddle until you start getting sores.

I have a new saddle.
it's firmer than my old one, and it's cleaner than my old one.  it's prettier.  you can still read the words "body geometry" printed on it.
there are no scratches on it, no scuff marks, no dings or darkening of the surface, anywhere.

wanna guess how long that will last?
not long, as I keep piling the miles on, climbing hills, reaching summits, and viewing the world from mountain-top saddles.

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