637 Days To Go is my blog, which was originally started with exactly 637 days until the start of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. And now it's been re-started with 637 days until the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The double-pronged pillow

Time trialling is a painful discipline. Not just because of the effort required to ride as fast as you can with no one to sit behind and draft off of for endless hours, but also due of the position that the rider must adopt on the bike in order to maximise aerodynamic efficiency. This usually means leaning forward with your weigh supported on your elbows, whilst being perched on the edge of the saddle. No matter how much padding there is on the tip of a saddle (where ALL your weight is put), it still hurts.

On a road bike, you can sit further back in the saddle and your weight is spread out more evenly. A good road saddle will allow you to use your sit bones to take the brunt of your weight. A traditional time trial saddle just bears all your weight on the tip (which is usually stuck somewhere in your perineal region). So basically – at the end of a time trial, your undercarriage is less than happy. And the longer the race, the greater the pain.

Adamo on the start line
As has been documented previously, about a year ago I suffered some injuries and infection in my undercarriage region – primarily due to the trauma that my time trial saddle was inflicting on the area. I was forced to start looking around for an alternative to the traditional TT saddle – or face the very real prospect of never riding a time trial bike again.

Fortunately for me, one of my teammates was using something a little 'special' on their bike. I had seen this saddle on a few different bikes, but because it looked so odd, I had dismissed it as a fad or something I shouldn't take seriously. But they claimed it was comfortable and that more and more people were starting to use them – so I decided to give it a try. I purchased my first ISM Adamo saddle ( and the rest is history!

The 'prongs' of the Adamo saddle
The most obvious difference between an Adamo saddle and a traditional saddle is the shape. Adamo saddles don't have a 'nose' but instead have two 'prongs' on the front. These prongs are padded and rounded slightly.  The prongs support your weight on your sit bones rather than on your perineum (undercarriage). And the angle of them allows the body to rotate further forward meaning you can achieve the time trial position comfortably and put out maximum power with less discomfort.

There are loads of stories and reviews online that explain exactly how these saddles work so it's probably pointless for me to go into the scientific detail. Suffices to say that the unique design increases bloodflow to your nether regions and decreases pain and discomfort. For me, it meant being able to continue my time trial career (and this is a good thing considering I won a World Championship a year later while faithfully perched on my Adamo!)

Putting out maximum effort on the Adamo
Wherever I go, people constantly ask me about the saddle. Is it comfortable? What do I think? Do I recommend them? The answer is always the same: they are the absolute best option out there for anyone who is serious about their time trialling. And even though Adamo saddles are most often seen on TT bikes – they also make versions for road bikes (and even mountain bikes!).

In the interests of fairness, I would have to say if there is one criticism of the saddle that I could give, it would be that the prongs are a little wider than the nose of a standard saddle. Although you sit on an Adamo differently, this 'wideness' means that the Adamo can rub the insides of your legs slightly. However, after the first couple of rides, I stopped noticing it and it has caused me no pain or injury. It's just part of the fit of the saddle. But for anyone who is new to using these saddles – don't give up if it doesn't feel 'right' on the first ride! Like any saddle, it takes a bit of adjustment and it's worth sticking with it!

In the past year I've even started using the Adamo saddles on my track bike. Despite my track events being short (4 minutes or less), it's critical that I am as comfortable as possible so I can focus 100% of my energy on going as fast as possible. Even the smallest bit of discomfort can take away from the overall result and in track racing you can't afford to give away a split second.

One by one, my teammates are starting to come around to the Adamo way of thinking. They have seen my struggles and injuries in the past, and the results and relief I have achieved by using the Adamo saddle. They are tired of constantly being in pain and want the same pillow-soft ride that I have found. And with a little help from Adamo, I'm hoping to get my Team Sprint partners all on Adamo and on the podium in 2012!