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  1. #1
    Dangrfield
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    Saddles. Something everyone should know.

    So I'm in my mid 50's and I've been cycling on and off all my life since I was 7 years old.
    Recently I picked up a Trek 5900 SuperLight with full DuraAce. An oldie but in very nice condition. Really a great bike, light, fast and versatile.
    I tweaked the fit and started piling on the miles mixed with interval sessions until I was riding around 200 miles per week on mixed terrain.
    I hooked up with a local bike club and dropped in for a few group rides. They adopted me straight into there A group and told me that's where I belong. Neat. I was happy that I'd trained well and quickly achieved a high standard.
    But I was uncomfortable and this is what my post is about.
    The bike has a Selle San Marcos saddle which fits my general sit 'shape' well. But after longer rides 60 - 70 miles I had numbness in my crotch and a stinging sensation in the end of my dick. It happened a couple of times. I ignored it and it subsided.
    Then 2 weeks ago on the Sunday night WHAM !. I came down like a ton of rocks with flu like symptoms. High temp. aching muscles, sensitive skin and a pounding headache. I crawled into bed and slept well until I got up for work the next day. Peeing that morning was uncomfortable as hell and definitely not the right color. I work for myself which is partly why I am able to fit so much cycling into my schedule. But not that day. By 10 am I'd given it up and gone back to bed feeling absolutely rotten all over.
    Diagnosis:
    Acute Bacterial Prostatitis. I'd aggravated my perineum and ended up with a bacterial infection in my prostate which it's hard to begin to explain just how unpleasant it is or how sick it made me so instead of trying I'll just list the common symptoms and let you do the rest:

    • chills
    • fever
    • muscular aches and pain
    • pelvic pain
    • blood in the urine
    • urinary frequency
    • painful urination
    • foul-smelling urine
    • decreased urinary stream
    • difficulty emptying the bladder
    • difficulty when starting to urinate
    • painful ejaculation
    • blood in the semen
    • discomfort with bowel movements
    • pain above the pubic bone
    • pain in the genitals, rectum, or testicles


    Previously I'd tweaked my bike fit myself and set my saddle tilted very slightly forwards (2 - 3 degrees) which was comfortable. However I'd recently read a couple of articles about bike fit which asserted in almost absolute terms that the saddle should be set level and for some reason I paid attention and boy do I wish I hadn't.
    I slept for 4 days waking only to pee, drink water or take medicine. My head throbbed, my mouth broke out in ulcers and sores and I ached all over. After 6 days I started to feel a little better but I was weak and had no appetite. At least my fever had subsided and I could go to the bathroom without peeing broken glass. A week later and I generally feel like while I was drunk and unconscious a large angry dog has been given free reign to chew me over physically, psychologically and emotionally.
    So let me say this to you all:
    Don't think it can't happen to you. It can.
    If your saddle is uncomfortable, adjust it or change it until it is comfortable.
    And if you like your saddle the way it is and someone tells you to change it, thank them kindly for their advice and then politely ignore them. I wish I had.

  2. #2
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Sorry to read about your experience.

    A saddle with a center channel cut-out will have less possibility of causing your problem.

    Something to consider.

  3. #3
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    The UCI permits saddles to tilt down a maximum of 4 degrees.

    Not to say you need to be UCI legal if you adjust your saddle tilt, but to say the UCI recognizes a measure of saddle downtilt will be useful for some cyclists and most cyclists will find something comfortable within that 4 degree downtilt. I think that 4 degrees is quite generous. I've tried tilting my saddle down just for visual purposes and it's significant. My saddles all tilt between 2-2.5 degrees.

    Definitely experiment.
    Last edited by Peter P.; 11-07-2015 at 07:08 PM.

  4. #4
    Dangrfield
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    Yes, I will be moving to a saddle with a cutout in the center and I will be putting the tilt back. Those are both obvious 'no brainers' but thanks for your comments.
    The real point for relating the story is to raise the general level of awareness.
    I was really taken by surprise by my affliction.
    Even tho I've been riding for a long time, 'cycling syndrome' per se is a condition I was completely unaware of. Many cyclists are unaware of the damage they can do to themselves thru the repeated sustained compression of the perineum and perineal nerve. Most regard a certain amount of discomfort from long hours on the saddle as part of the deal.
    It doesn't hurt to make people aware that the consequences of a bad fit or poorly adjusted saddle can be quite serious.

  5. #5
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Sounds like a possible urinary tract infection. What did the Dr. have to say?

  6. #6
    Dangrfield
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    Quote Originally Posted by BikeLayne View Post
    Sounds like a possible urinary tract infection. What did the Dr. have to say?

    UTI was my first guess but not correct.
    Urologist said Acute Bacterial Prostatitis.
    The real clue is the rapid onset of severe flu like symptoms which can be a distinctive feature of ABP.

    Further, UTI's are uncommon in men.

  7. #7
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    Great info. Thank you.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dangrfield View Post
    Even tho I've been riding for a long time, 'cycling syndrome' per se is a condition I was completely unaware of. Many cyclists are unaware of the damage they can do to themselves thru the repeated sustained compression of the perineum and perineal nerve. Most regard a certain amount of discomfort from long hours on the saddle as part of the deal.
    It doesn't hurt to make people aware that the consequences of a bad fit or poorly adjusted saddle can be quite serious.
    Thanks. I knew about 'man issues' but never would have guessed your problem was even a possibility.

    I use an SMP so pretty sure I'm all set here but good to know.

  9. #9
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Thanks. I knew about 'man issues' but never would have guessed your problem was even a possibility.
    It's not likely that the OP's acute bacterial prostatitis was caused by "aggravating" his perineum. The bacteria had to be there.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by wim View Post
    It's not likely that the OP's acute bacterial prostatitis was caused by "aggravating" his perineum. The bacteria had to be there.
    There's more cells of bacteria on and in your body than there are of your own cells. Same say ten times as many.
    use a torque wrench

  11. #11
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    Yes, but they are (by mass) mostly in your gut, not your prostate.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dangrfield View Post
    UTI was my first guess but not correct.
    Urologist said Acute Bacterial Prostatitis.
    The real clue is the rapid onset of severe flu like symptoms which can be a distinctive feature of ABP.

    Further, UTI's are uncommon in men.
    Sounds like your taking care of the situation. Good luck.

  13. #13
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    I can honestly say that given all the other painful symptoms, determining for erectile disfunction or ejaculation capability would not have been on my list of things to check.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    I can honestly say that given all the other painful symptoms, determining for erectile disfunction or ejaculation capability would not have been on my list of things to check.
    I don't think it was a listing of personal experiences.

  15. #15
    Dangrfield
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    Thanks for everyone's comments. A couple of points were raised which I'd like to address if I may:
    To wim's comment;
    "It's not likely that the OP's acute bacterial prostatitis was caused by "aggravating" his perineum. The bacteria had to be there.

    I had difficulty joining the dots on how the general compression and aggravation translated into a bacterial infection so I asked questions. As I understand the Etiology of the condition, because of the general constriction of vessels in the region urine can become forced back through the tubes connecting the prostatis to the urethra thereby setting up conditions for infection. Hope that answers your question.

    to SteveB:
    It was a list of common symptoms associated with the condition.
    No I didn't check to see if I was ejaculating OK but thanks for wondering.
    I did experience most of the symptoms on the list plus some others not listed and it was not pleasant.

  16. #16
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dangrfield View Post
    Thanks for everyone's comments. A couple of points were raised which I'd like to address if I may:
    To wim's comment;
    "It's not likely that the OP's acute bacterial prostatitis was caused by "aggravating" his perineum. The bacteria had to be there.

    I had difficulty joining the dots on how the general compression and aggravation translated into a bacterial infection so I asked questions. As I understand the Etiology of the condition, because of the general constriction of vessels in the region urine can become forced back through the tubes connecting the prostatis to the urethra thereby setting up conditions for infection. Hope that answers your question.

    to SteveB:
    It was a list of common symptoms associated with the condition.
    No I didn't check to see if I was ejaculating OK but thanks for wondering.
    I did experience most of the symptoms on the list plus some others not listed and it was not pleasant.
    I got a good chuckle when I read the list as I too had a bad bacterial infection way back in 2000. Kept me from riding a DF bike for 2 years, which is how I ended up with a recumbent. My prostate was sore literally for that entire time, only slowly getting better. I ended up on Brooks B17 saddles for a few years, which helped and eventually could ride a DF with a narrow Selle saddle. Been fine for 5 years or so now but certainly not something I ever want again.

  17. #17
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    there goes my lunch

  18. #18
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    Mine manifested itself in the early 1990s. Felt like an red hot ice pick shoved in the old pee hole when I peed, along with what felt like I had been kicked in the nuts by a mule. Was on meds for a long time, stayed off the bike, then got a saddle with a groove in the middle which helped when I got back on the bike about 10 years later (I got gunshy).

  19. #19
    Dangrfield
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve B. View Post
    I got a good chuckle when I read the list as I too had a bad bacterial infection way back in 2000. Kept me from riding a DF bike for 2 years, which is how I ended up with a recumbent. My prostate was sore literally for that entire time, only slowly getting better. I ended up on Brooks B17 saddles for a few years, which helped and eventually could ride a DF with a narrow Selle saddle. Been fine for 5 years or so now but certainly not something I ever want again.

    Amen to that. Something no-one wants to do twice for sure.
    I wonder how many pro riders run into these types of issue ??

  20. #20
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    besides the issue of a cutout in the saddle, there's also shape. San Marcos is a "wave" shaped saddle, which creates a "hammock" position. The tilt of these saddles will differ from a flat saddle. Although both kinds of saddles now come with a cutout, I think a flat saddle with a good cutout set level is the best general solution for issues relating to prostate. One good saddle is the prologo zero II pas. Also, watch out for saddles that sag with time like the selle italia SLR, as the loss of shape contributes to pressure.

  21. #21
    wim
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dangrfield View Post
    I wonder how many pro riders run into these types of issue ??
    It's an interesting question. The doc who treated me for my latest nether regions issue (involving a urethral catheterization, ouch!) is a enthusiastic cyclist and has given this some thought. In his view, only those with almost perfect bodies seemingly immune to forces that would injure your average person make it into the ranks of the pros to begin with, so comparisons may not be conclusive.

    I remember reading some studies on nerve- and vessel compression in cyclists some years ago--about the time when the Dr. Irwin Goldstein scare articles were being run everywhere. If I remember this correctly, the people who fared worst were bicycle policemen because they rode slowly all day long at low pedal forces. Pro racers exert large forces on the pedals, which reduces pressure on the pubic arch considerably.
    Last edited by wim; 11-08-2015 at 04:44 PM.

  22. #22
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    "On and off" "oldie but a goodie" etc... So, how much were you riding before going to 200 miles a week? That's a lot. I ride a lot, considering my work demand and a family and 130 is a good week. Can you give us an idea of your mileage pattern? At what point did you get the oldie but goodie and at what point did you get to 200 miles a week? What were you riding before and how much? For how long? Thanks...
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  23. #23
    HERKWO
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike View Post
    Also, watch out for saddles that sag with time like the selle italia SLR, as the loss of shape contributes to pressure.
    If you are looking for a great saddle w/ a huge cut-out I recommend the Selle Italia Superflow. It comes in 130 & 145 widths. It's a bit pricey in the US so check out ribble. They are currently $151.
    Superflow at Ribble Cycles

    BTW, Selle Italia makes about 20 variations of the SLR saddle so, I'm not sure which are prone to this "sagging" problem. I've been using the Superflow on both of my bikes for many years now and they are free from "sagging". If that is even possible for a nylon & carbon platform based saddle to experience...
    Last edited by Herkwo; 11-08-2015 at 06:34 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herkwo View Post
    If you are looking for a great saddle w/ a huge cut-out I recommend the Selle Italia Superflow. It comes in 130 & 145 widths. It's a bit pricey in the US so check out ribble. They are currently $151.
    Superflow at Ribble Cycles

    BTW, Selle Italia makes about 20 variations of the SLR saddle so, I'm not sure which are prone to this "sagging" problem. I've been using the Superflow on both of my bikes for many years now and they are free from "sagging". If that is even possible for a nylon & carbon platform based saddle to experience...
    it's very common for the slr - they end up looking like this.Name:  slr.jpg
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  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by stevesbike View Post
    ...I think a flat saddle with a good cutout set level is the best general solution for issues relating to prostate. One good saddle is the prologo zero II pas...
    I've got Zero II PAS's on all my bikes.

    I've tried almost everything out there over the years and it's about as close to perfect for me as I expect to ever find.

    Ultimately, I found setting mine level from where my sit bones fall, forward, works best of all. It allows me a great range of movement, with just enough of a slightly kicked up rear to slide back on for hard efforts.

    This set up takes perineum pressure nearly completely out of the equation, and it's not too nose down to where it places you too forward with pressure on your hands/shoulders (provided core is strong and flexibility good).

    This set up winds up being about 0.8 degree nose down back to front. It's a tip I picked up from a high level biomechanical fitter friend who recommends setting up flat Arione's, Zero II's, etc. this way.
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