I never gave much thought to my saddle choice. Sure, I opted for the split-seat to relieve some pressure, and I’ve always been a fan of gel padding. Other than those two seat features, my nether-regions had always been fine with whatever seat I went with. (OK, so maybe I wasn’t one of those crazy people who can ride on an all-carbon seat, but still).
Then I broke my pelvis in four separate places while attempting to train for Ironman Coeur d’Alene (acetabulum on both sides, and a bilateral pubic rami fracture). “The marathon is out,” said my surgeon. “But if you want to go ahead with the swim and the bike you have my blessing—but you’re insane.” Suddenly, my saddle choice wasn’t just important. It became somewhat of an obsession.
After a few months of trying various saddles and uncomfortable unilateral saddle sores, my physical therapist laid it to me straight: “Your body is simply incapable of sitting in the seat evenly right now. You need to find a saddle that addresses this or you’re going to hurt yourself permanently.” I waddled home and shed what was probably my thousandth tear over my injury. Then I decided to ask for help.
When I told my predicament to Nate Koch at Endurance Rehab he suggested I try Ideal Saddle Modification’s (ISM) Adamo. I’d seen it around, but frankly it kind of freaked me out. It looked like a fish fillet. How comfortable could a fish fillet be? Boy was I wrong.
I tried out an Adamo Breakaway saddle before settling on an Adamo Road model, which offers more padding and a slightly smaller shape. The Adamo Road is popular with 70.3 and Ironman-distance athletes because it offers more padding when in the aero-position over long periods of time.
The Adamo’s design allows a steady blood flow to your most (ahem) coveted organs—no matter how long you stay in the saddle. Increased blood flow means no numbness, pain, or general discomfort. This has some obvious benefits for all you male riders out there hoping to avoid sexual dysfunction due to heavy mileage.
For us ladies, the Adamo works a little differently. It rotates your pelvis in the saddle so you are sitting more on your seat bones than your pubic bone. This keeps the blood flowing, but also relieves much of the pressure we tend to feel on long rides. For someone like me who sits unevenly due to injury in the pubic area, taking the pressure off this area helps keep my leg strokes equal, which helps to minimize unilateral saddle sores.
The decreased discomfort and increased blood flow is also beneficial when racing in a triathlon. Anytime you have blood-flow restriction you are wasting energy and affecting your race-focus. The simple act of minimizing saddle sores can put you in a whole other frame of mind when you start the run, not to mention keepinh your gait as efficient as possible.
There are a few pointers about the Adamo I feel I should point out. Number one: don’t slip this puppy on and go for a 100-mile ride. The extra pressure on your sit bones can make you slightly sore at first, but after a few rides this will subside and you will find it hard to ride on anything else. Secondly, for you smaller ladies out there I recommend you tilt the saddle slightly downward. This minimizes seat bone soreness while keeping you extra-comfortable while in the aero position. If you find yourself still feeling uncomfortable, another tip is to zip tie the front tongs of the saddle together, which makes the nose slightly narrower if that’s what you prefer.
After a few weeks of using the Adamo pre race, I am happy to report that even on mile 100 of the Ironman, when even the strongest cyclist tends to feel a little worse for the wear, my pelvic area remained pain free. Whether I was in the drops or up stretching my back, I felt completely comfortable in the saddle—so much so that I even ended up doing five miles of the run for good measure. Just don’t tell my surgeon.