Monday, October 10, 2016

Saddles - Work in Progress

In my world, dealing with saddle fit has become an exercise in problem solving.

In mid-August, Roo did Tahoe Rim Ride with Ash and then had six weeks off while Fergus and I went and did VC100. Having signed up for Red Rock 50 in mid-October, I realised that it would probably be good to actually ride Roo before then, so two weekends ago off we went to Cool with the intention of "doing a proper conditioning ride".

As I said at the time on FB - "Man Plans, God Laughs".

Apparently six weeks off was not A Good Thing. Roo was so obnoxious that I couldn't do anything with him. Every time we tried to trot, he'd start to leap about and threaten to dump me. Finally after six miles of discussion, he settled down and we were able to get on with it. At which time, my stirrup leather promptly broke and we ended up walking lopsidedly back to the trailer.

I was glad he only spooked slightly at the dozen turkeys grazing in the undergrowth on the way home, since I was clutching the stirrup + fender in one hand.

Did you know, if you get on from one side using the remaining stirrup, it's nigh on impossible to straighten the saddle once you're sitting in it, without that other stirrup on the off-side?

Inspection of the stirrup leather revealed that the stitching had just disintegrated. The stirrup leathers were actually some fenders that I stole off my Barefoot saddle from ten years ago and had been working nicely with Roo's newly-inherited 15" Specialized Eurolite (the one I bought for Fergus).

Sewing them back together wasn't rocket science, so last night I sat down with my 'good' sewing machine, unpicked all the dead thread, and sewed them back together (I took the precaution of resewing the second fender too, even though it was only "tired", not "disintegrated"). Ta da!

Not rocket science to sew back up.

My good Juki sewing machine struggled a little with the double thickness, but with some careful hand-cranking it went fine. 

This morning I opted to "quickly put them back on the saddle" before I fed the horses. You can see where this is going, right? An hour later, I had reattached the fenders, realised that they were much more bulky than the original Specialized stirrup leathers ("biothanes"?), so were creating a bulge where they passed under the cushion panels on the underside of the saddle. I could cut a notch in the neoprene panels, but since I'm not sure if I'll continue to use these fenders, I was a little leery to do that. Not to mention when I put the saddle on Roo's back (without a pad), I decided it was actually bridging right around where the bulge was, so probably needed shimming anyway. This was the saddle Ash rode him in at TRR and oddly he didn't seeem to have any back issues - or at least so I thought, but I still didn't like it.

So then I had to find some shims to try and minimize the bridging/make the stirrup leather bulge less pronounced. To do that I had to steal the shims that I was using as knee blocks, which meant finding the other knee-block-shims-bodge that I was using on Fergus' 16" saddle, and then thinking "hmm, maybe I should steal the real knee blocks from my Sensation for the ride" which got me thinking "hmm, maybe I should order a set of real knee blocks from Sensation in Canada, along with a pommel bolster... and what's the Canadian dollar worth these days...?"

etc... etc...

The upshot is, I think I've got the saddle set up a little better; I need to ride Roo in it before we leave for Red Rock on Friday to make sure, and to fiddle with the knee blocks to see if the faked-shim-ones will work, or if the Sensation real ones would be better.

Shimming the 16" Specialized Eurolite 

In the meantime, I took pics of how I shimmed the 16" Specialized Eurolite for me for VC100 - I was thrilled with how this saddle felt and didn't have any problems with it the entire ride.

It's a bit hard to see, but hopefully this gives an idea. I primarily used Specialized shims, then added a twist bolster (from Sensation) and a sheet of material similar to shelf-liner - sort of foamy-cushy stuff.

When I was figuring out what I needed I just kept adding thins shims little by little, sitting in the seat and wriggling around to see how my seat bones/hips felt. It took surprisingly little thickness to make it not work, versus feeling good.

Some Specialized shims along the center line, flaring out closer to the pommel to add twist,
then a twist bolster (long triangular cushion) in front to give some "swell".

Followed by the addition of some material that came in a pad, but is similar to foamy-shelf liner.
This was to add cush for my seat bones. Initially when it was double thickness in front it was too bulky, so I shaped the lower layer slightly.

Second layer flopped over the top. 

In the rear, I have the rest of the center shim, followed by a couple of little flat shims to shorten the seat up a tiny bit - I was swimming in the 16", but the 15" is just too small.

Flop the shelf-liner type material down, then I added a small roll of – I admit it – it's that bubbly packing material - it's only about 1/2" thick and probably unnecessary, but it made just that little bit of difference to snug up the seat.

All that stuff under the removable seat made for a perfect-shaped seat, along with the knee blocks velcroed under the front flaps of the seat. Finally, I had the sheepskin shown above on the brown saddle over the top of everything to cover it all up. Voila. Perfect 100 mile padding. 

No comments:

Post a Comment