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Hal On Saddles

It's not the saddle stupid


This article first appeared in the Holiday 1998 edition of the Bicycle Habitat newsletter.


Ask Hal: Protecting your privates...
by Hal Ruzal

Normally, I write about repair related issues, but a certain "problem" has popped up and needs to be addressed. A few months ago, there was a TV show (I don't remember which one because I have never owned a television) in which a quack doctor from the Boston area stated cycling is a causative factor in low sperm counts. This is the biggest bunch of horse bleep I've ever heard. The "doctor" used an ass backward method of study and did not use a control group. He only studied males who had a low sperm count to begin with. Of these "sterile" males, he found that some were cyclists, ergo, cycling causes low sperm counts.

Well I know two guys with low sperm counts: One gentleman does not physically know how to ride a bicycle and the other has probably ridden all of 50 miles in the last 20 years. On the other hand, Jacques Anquetil won five Tours de France. Jacques averaged 20,000 miles a year on a hard leather saddle. He also fathered five legitimate children. He had the reputation of being quite a playboy so we won't even mention the possibility of other children. Eddy Merckx won five Tours and Greg Lemond three without any apparent impotency problems. On a more personal note, I have ridden over 10,000 miles per year for the last 25 years and I'd be a lot better off monetarily if cycling had caused me to be impotent.

There are ways to totally avoid any penile discomfort. One is to be a member of the female persuasion. Otherwise, you should get out of the saddle and stretch during at least five per cent of your riding time. Honking (riding out of the saddle) prevents the dreaded numb nuts syndrome. It also strengthens one's arms, making cycling a more all around form of exercise. Riding with your saddle too high (you should have a slight bend in the knee at the maximum downstroke) creates undue stresses in both males and females. Your saddle should also be perfectly level to prevent any crotch problems. Take a carpenter's level and really make sure your saddle is not tilted either way.

Do your cycling shorts fit properly? If your shorts are too tight, you'll overheat your vitals. If your shorts are too loose, they'll bunch up and chafe your vitals. You shouldn't wear underwear when you ride because those pesky seams can also cause chaffing.

Follow these tips and you will be fruitful and multiply.