From the time I received my first ten speed bicycle, I loved the idea of seeing how far I could go which was hard to determine as I had no way to gauge distances accurately. I simply loved riding my bike. Fast forward many years later with a return to riding, and the thrill of completing my first 100 kilometer ride reignited the passion and drive to go farther. The first century (100 miles) I completed suddenly opened the gates of possibility in my mind as to what I could do. Then I started reading and learning as much as I could about ultra distance cycling. Then it became my passion. Then my training focus changed and my coach thought I was nuts, well, to be honest, he still does. (It’s okay though, I am his favorite client.) The journey into solo, unsupported long distance rides began as preparation for the 401 mile Ohio Challenge (one of the Race Across America qualifying races). During those training rides of 8 to 10 hours I didn’t think much of stopping every 2-3 hours to get off the bike, refill bottles, and have a quick snack; I didn't think twice about the 15-20 minutes off of the bike. Looking back now, I realize it was more about the chance to get off the bike than it was to stay fueled and hydrated.
When it came time to race in the Ohio Challenge, the beginning went really well and then at some point past 200 miles came the voice of my coach crackling through the radio, “John, you need to stay in the saddle and pedal.”
“I’m a little sore.”
“You’re losing time and it's a concern. I really need you to pedal.”
So, I stopped standing on the pedals to relieve the pressure and pedaled. Hard. Seated firmly in the saddle.
I finished within the 32 hour time limit. What little feeling remained was mostly painful but it was not so bad since my bits and pieces were numb. As in very numb. I never wanted to feel that way again and I knew that my plan for the 2018 Race Across the West would be difficult with my current set up. After some research, the suggestion of a friend and from my coach (he had another client who had recently purchased an Infinity seat and he loved it) I decided to try an Infinity seat, which was not easy as I had to make a conscious effort to look past its shape, unusual cut out and fear about it not working for me. I installed it on my primary road bike. I tested it. I adjust the seat a little. I tested again. I readjusted and tested once more. I had it just right. Then I went for a planned two hour ride. Then the magic happened. I rode two hours straight without once thinking about getting off the bike. The next day I went out on a planned three hour ride. After four hours and fifteen minutes had elapsed, the fifteen minutes being used for buying water and at stop signs, the majority of the time I was in the saddle. It was a huge relief in so many ways including being able to ride and stand on the pedals when I wanted to, not because I needed to. It was beyond thrilling.
My beloved road bike, Keely (a BMC RoadMachine), is now spending more time in the trainer because I simply don’t want to spend any time sitting on a bike being uncomfortable.