Bicycle sex-change operation
You'd think, with all my years of experience, I would have figured this out much sooner. However, it is important to note that all my years of experience have been on a Trek 7100 Multi-Trak hybrid with a nice, big, comfy, squishy saddle that has more padding on it than my butt does naturally.
So you see, when I got a Real Bike, with the curly handlebars and the high-quality components and the steel frame and all, I simply, naively assumed that an uncomfortable saddle was just part of the package. I figured that it was the reason that so many roadies seem to be so uptight most of the time and need to wear the special padded shorts and use the special balm---that optimum comfort of the nether regions is exchanged for some performance benefit that I was still unworthy of discovering for myself, owing to my slowness, until I rode more, and more, and more. I thought maybe I just needed to lose weight, in order to reduce my natural squishiness and thus reduce the bruising, so of course I just needed to ride more. I concluded that the handlebars were too low, because when I finally got the baneful roadie saddle into a position such that I could ride without experiencing the unbearable pain in my thighs and [censored] that would manifest after only five miles or so (because I was trying to ride more), my shoulders were painfully scrunched and I had too much weight on my hands and wrists. It was uncomfortable, shading to painful, shading to excruciating, depending on how far I rode.
Well, as you know, and as even I myself frequently tell others, cycling is not supposed to hurt. If it hurts, there's a problem. And it did hurt. I was beyond getting accustomed to it, or breaking it in, or whatever; I was in pain. My bike was hurting me; it hurt to ride. I could not imagine riding it farther than one Bike the Drive unit at a time without requiring weeks of physical therapy afterward. Well, I thought, it's a road bike with a roadie saddle, so nothing can be done about that; I just have to get used to riding with a stick up my ass, the better to build character and discipline and so on. Clearly, the problem is that the handlebars are too low; therefore, I need a new stem.
So I brought it in for stem surgery. They took one look and said, "Your saddle is too high."
"Yes, I know, but it hurt to much when it was lower."
"Well, no wonder---that's a men's saddle."
Now, I knew that I had purchased a "men's" bike, insofar as I had not purchased a specifically designed women's bike. Perhaps that would have been advisable, and several people had indeed advised me thus, but WSD bikes are always either more expensive or need to be special-ordered because they aren't kept in stock at the shop---and people wonder why more women don't ride bikes---and they usually come in those silly pastel colors. If you know me, you know I'm not a pastel sort of person. For one thing, most pastels simply don't match my natural coloring, which is shockingly pale but with yellow undertones, and it is said that you are naturally more inclined to colors that suit you best, and I do look much better in darker colors, which also serve to bring out the natural highlights in my hair. A light-colored top makes it look too dull and rusty.
Anyway, I don't like pastels, and I don't like spending additional money because of sexism, and I don't like waiting for special orders because of sexism, and in any case, some bikes, like the one I got, don't come in separate men's and women's models. They come in only one model, which I guess is usually considered to be a "men's" model by default unless it's a Terry or something, and I had---foolishly, I see now---believed that, in our enlightened age, a "men's" model bike, with no corresponding WSD model, would therefore be "unisex," and thus have some sort of compromising "unisex" saddle that would be equally uncomfortable but tolerable for both sexes, and I'd just have to either get used to it or be a hipster and get one of those vinyl Brooks knockoffs.
"Yeah, men and women are shaped differently. You'd be a lot more comfortable with a women's saddle."
So they replaced the saddle and put it back where it's supposed to be, and now everything is hunky-dory. In fact, everything is considerably better than just hunky-dory. I think I actually emitted a continuous moaning sigh of relief as I took my first test ride on the new saddle. Aaaahhhhhhhh.
I tell my tale as a warning. Ladies, particularly those of you who are biologically ladies, if you're going to get a new bike, one that's not just for errands or short commutes or rides around the park or whatever but something that you actually expect to ride for long durations and at least tens of miles at a time often and for many years, if you don't get a special WSD bike, then you may as well just expect to add the cost of a WSD saddle to the cost of your new bike, because you will most likely need one sooner or later. It's sexist, I know, but maybe you can recover some of the money by selling the default men's saddle that came with your bike. It has nothing to do with how fit or fat you are. It's just an unfortunate and sexist case of having bones that are shaped differently from what the bicycle industry considers to be "standard."
Bicycle industry, if you want to get more women on bikes, and I mean really get more women to buy new bikes and ride them often enough to periodically need to buy new parts and accessories for them, then freaking make more women's bikes that aren't just upright townies with big baskets and chain guards, because some of us actually want to ride and don't care how greasy or sweaty we get in the process. And then freaking send more of those to your retailers so they can be bought off the shelf without waiting around for a special order. And for goddess's sake, make them cheaper! Or at least don't charge extra for a different saddle. Some bikes don't come with pedals (mine didn't); maybe they shouldn't come with saddles, either. Stop treating us like second-class citizens who need special bikes with special parts on special order! Stop acting like we're all a bunch of abnormal freaks, simply because we're not men!