Monday, July 07, 2014

Bike Shop Gynecology

Dealing with issues of saddle discomfort, we in the bike shop business often have to provide courteous and thoughtful technical support to people describing their particular problem in their intimate regions.

After years of this I have  -- or thought I had -- developed a few general principles to help a rider select an appropriate saddle. I will never suggest a specific saddle. I don't want the blame if it doesn't work out. But by using a sizer to find the actual pelvic pressure points and then describing how riding style and position influences the choice of saddle shape and composition I can usually help a rider make a good choice on their own.

Yesterday I learned about a new variable.

A woman had called to ask about setting her old bike up with a more upright position and, by the way, trying to find a more comfortable saddle. These are common requests. When she came in with her bike I determined that she could do almost anything she wanted to customize her position. So far so good. Then she pointed to the saddle and said she was very uncomfortable on it.

The saddle looked like a 1990 Avocet women's gel mountain bike saddle. It's a pretty generic wedge. I pointed out that the shape of the top of it makes you think it's level when it's actually pushing you forward onto the narrow nose. I explained how it's counter intuitive, but setting the nose up on a saddle like this helps keep you on the part of the saddle where you want to be. She was nodding along all right, but she had a question.

"I don't know how much you know about female anatomy," she said, "but all vaginas are not the same." She didn't say it reprovingly, she said it to introduce her particular problem. She proceeded to describe her own genital architecture in sufficient detail that I immediately had a mental picture. You might think this was too much information, but it was completely relevant. The responsibility was on me to meet her trust with my own trustworthiness. We discussed various things she can try that have worked for other women I know who ride.

I won't pretend I did not have a few mental gyrations going on as she took me on this journey into her pants on a beautiful sunny morning. I make no claim to superhuman powers of detachment. I'll find the detachment when it's required, but I may have to dope slap a few primitive compulsions while I'm doing it. If my work more routinely exposed me to intimate revelations I might develop a more seamless compartmentalization. Instead it's like so much else we deal with in our shop. You never know when you'll have to go from a Huffy to a Cervelo, from a billionaire to a dishwasher, from laughing it up with your fellow greasy grunts to guarding someone's intimate secrets. I'm going to assume for the moment that she doesn't just dart around telling everyone about the configuration of her private parts. That's all up to her. Like I said, in this case it was completely relevant. That's all I know.


Steve A said...

Does she read your blog?

cafiend said...

Probably doesn't know it exists. And since I did not share specific details, judge her or name names I have violated no confidence.

Grego said...

It is true that no two vaginas are the same, but if your bike saddle is contacting your vagina, You're Doing It Wrong. The sharing customer was most likely referring to the unique flower of her vulva. Cheers!

cafiend said...

Roger that, Grego. The whole apparatus gets referred to vernacularly as the vagina, so I didn't quibble.

Grego said...

P.S.: hilarious! :)