Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In search for the perfect saddle

I made a bad decision to upgrade from the WTB Nano to the white Specialized saddle a couple of weeks before the Mindoro trip. I thought, "what can go wrong? It's a Specialized saddle, right? It's gonna fit me like a glove." We all know how that ended up - me on the brink of giving up after the first day because my butt hurts like hell. Lo and behold, after more than a year of riding that saddle, it's still not as comfortable as what I'm expecting Specialized to deliver. And with summer already here, it's time to give one of the few contact areas some lovin'.

I went online and searched for what possibly can be a good saddle for me. The first candidate is the new saddle from Ergon. A brand known for championing proper bike equipment ergonomics, their new saddle could possibly end the discomfort that I feel when riding the Specialized. Unfortunately, it's not yet available in the Philippines, according to Edmund of All Terra. And so we move on to the next one.

Candidate number two is a saddle that I saw from one of the bikers in La Mesa. It has a weird shape - it looks as if it has two noses instead of one! A few quick searches on the net revealed that it's the ISM Adamo saddle. It looks comfortable and that impression is supported further by the reviews of people who have made the switch. I've yet to make trips around the bike shops in Manila to see if there's anyone selling this already. Otherwise, I may have to buy at Amazon and have it sent to a friend in the U.S. I'm making this my back-up plan.

When I opened my Facebook account, I discovered that Edmund left me another message. He suggested that I try the saddle that he's using now - the Allay. It's made by Topeak, he said. Being a Topeak user and someone relatively familiar with their website, I don't recall seeing a saddle in their line-up. A quick type on the browser confirms this - under products, there is nothing between Repair Stands and Storage & Display. I needed to do a quick search to reveal Topeak's secret.

If you're not familiar with the Allay comfort strategy, think about a quick-rebound high-density foam on a carbon shell with a Reebok Pump at the nose to adjust the firmness. If it's too hard, there's a valve that you push to release air. In a way, it's a saddle for gadget geeks.


Curious as to how this performs, I bought one from the All Terra bike shop at Julia Vargas and installed it right away when I got home. The Allay sits a bit higher than my old Specialized saddle so I had to lower my seatpost. Unlike conventional saddles that should be parallel to the ground, Allay recommends that you point the nose two or three degrees upward. I learned that this helps you from sliding forward.

Despite doing several installation adjustments and tweaking compared to the other saddles that I had, riding the Allay seems to be comfortable for me. I only did a few leisurely laps around the Ateneo campus. But in those few laps, I can somehow hear my butt thanking me. With a price tag of P6,000 for a saddle, it should, right?

As with all saddles, only a lot of riding time will tell if this is the right one for me. I hope this is it so we can finally live happily forever after.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

The next Bisikleta.ph jerseys

Ebony and Ivory

I love the first edition of the Bisikleta.ph jersey. I've worn it in some of my rides, including the Mandaluyong to Batangas City ride and the Laguna de Bike.

It's summer once again and I'm itching to do more touring this year, which is actually a good excuse to have new jerseys made for Bisikleta.ph.

The first jersey was made by my friend, Noel Marasigan. The jersey designs that you see on top are the new ones for this year and are designed by me.

I wanted the Bisikleta.ph jersey to be simple and not too loud. I want it to be something that you can wear to a store and not look like you're a walking tarpaulin. I don't want it to attract any unnecessary attention when I do my touring and make me look intimidating to the locals. There are also reasons why I have two versions: the black one is for really crummy and muddy rides (laundry-friendly), and the white one is to aid visibility during late afternoon and night rides. Also, to be honest, they go well with my helmet and shades. :)

Let me know what you guys think.

p.s., I'm also looking for sponsors who share the same vision. :)

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Mountain Biking (or was it hiking?) in Batangas City

Yesterday's ride in Batangas City is something that I've been planning to do for the longest time. It always gets canceled either because I had other things to do during the weekend or I just couldn't get up at 4:30 in the morning to drive to my hometown (which is often the case).


I was thinking we would be doing a long ride -- something like a ride to Ibaan via Taysan, but that didn't happen. Instead, our trail master took us trail riding from somewhere in Gulod and ended in Dumuclay. It was an OK ride and the views were fantastic. I just didn't the enjoy the hike-a-bikes that we did when we crossed a number of streams.

After the ride, we had some pancit guisado from Jocas Lomi Haus in Libjo before heading back to the city.

I believe the highlight of the day was what we did after I washed the bike in Eric's place. Because I didn't have an open area in the condo to do my usual bike maintenance, I pulled out my bike stand and toolbox from the trunk of the car. As if attracted by a magnet, Onad and Eric approached me to help out as I was setting up at one corner of the carwash. They basically took over from there - first, checking out what's wrong with my shifting, then moving to degreasing and re-lubing my chain, and ended up with an overhauled front derailleur and a fresh new shifter cable. These guys can basically open their own bike repair shop if they wanted to. While they were doing their thing, they were alway giving me tips - things like using a liquid lubricant instead of using grease when lubricating the shifter cables, and putting some drops of chain lube to the cable housing ends. Nice! Now I have a crisp-shifting bike that's ready to take over the world again.

For those interested in riding our mountain "hike" trail, here's the GPS map:
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