Ergon SM3 (2012 Model) – Moutain Bike Saddle Review

HEEEY YOU GUYYYSSSS (in my best Sloth voice)

So I’ve been absent from the blogsphere for quite some time now and many things have changed and others have stayed the same.

I had a rail break/failure on my Specialized Phenom Expert mountain bike saddle a while back, and I decided to give another saddle a chance to grace my sit bones with some quality and comfort.

Even prior to my Phenom failing, I had my mind set on the Ergon SM3 mountain bike specific saddle due to sparse, but good, reviews that I’d read regarding the quality and feel. I am also somewhat of a non-conforming conformist when it comes to trying out new products. I’ll try something out of the norm to see if there are better options out there.

About Ergon:
They are known for their grips and the SM3 is their first saddle offering. In 2012 their SM3 is offered in a variety of levels which include carbon rails, ti-nox rails, and a carbon shell offered in Small and Large sit bone widths. This saddle is NOT gender specific FYI so if you’re expecting that then you would be mistaken.

First Impressions:
Upon receiving my new SM3, I definitely liked the looks of the saddle and feel of the material. The material is some synthetic leather material that is quite smooth to the touch. The saddle seemed awfully square and initially gave me some apprehension regarding its potential efficacy.

Packaging:
Pretty standard here the packing included tidbits of information about the saddle and yadda yadda…who reads the manuals anyway huh? RTFM comes to mind, but this isn’t tech support or any sort of support so who cares :). Either way, here are some snaps from the packaging (post saddle removal sorry folks).

FYI, click the pics for higher resolution views if you so choose.

COVER

MANUAL

Installation:
Installation was pretty simple  that it got done twice. I installed it on my Easton seat post after I got it and then removed it and had my shop install it on my other bike as soon as it arrived (post to come regarding my sweet sweet 2013 Specialized Carve SL). I had the bike shop verify that the saddle was level which was the sweet spot for me and from what I’ve read for many other users as well.

First ride:
My first ride with this saddle was one of my normal loops in Sierra Vista called Brown Canyon. Depending on how you want to ride it you can do as little as 5.5 miles up to right around 10 as  a loop. The first big difference that I noticed versus my old Phenom was that it was super easy to get in and out of the saddle with the SM3. The difference may seem ridiculous because when you think “who has problems getting in and out of the saddle?”… I believe that I attribute the ease of on and off to the shape and material of the Ergon.

SHAPLEY-NESS

The shape accommodate the saddle to want to hatchet/wedge itself up your butt like some of the other curvy types on the market that I’ve used. I have a shapely backside and my butt tends to want to eat things like underwear, bibs, and even my saddle from time to time.

The rear of the saddle is super wide but in a way that gives you more leverage and stability when trying to put a lot of power down to the pedals and assists with steering as a limit point when descending.

WIDE BODY BOOTY

When in the saddle, it is business as usual with this saddle because it just lends itself to being comfy during all sorts of efforts spin-worthy as well as mashfests.

I got up and around Brown without feeling like I needed to worry about my saddle. I actually didn’t really have to worry about anything because it is like it isn’t there (not in a weird no saddle and all seat post sort of way).

Durability:
It happens to us all that we will hit the dirt eventually. Keeping it rubber side down is always the desire but not always the outcome. I hit the dirt once and the saddle didn’t suffer any damage which was nice! I’ve frayed and scuffed up saddles before from dirt diving.

Annoyances:
The manual lists some crazy pictures which are somewhat helpful regarding installation, but definitely nothing finite like ft. lbs or newton meters for torque specification. Basically the pictures say don’t smash the rails until it flattens them out. If you don’t have a keen eye for that sort of thing or just bad vision you might ruin your saddle before your first ride.

After a few rides:
I’ve got to say that on my current ride, it performs well in a single/fully rigid application as well geared. No squeaks or squeals coming from the saddle makes me feel like the SM3 will stand the test of time.

MORE VIEWS

Price:
MSRP for this saddle is $129.95 which is somewhat steep, but if you shop around or talk with the folks at your LBS, you’ll be able to swing a better deal. That being said, paying fully price for this saddle is still worth it.

The True Test:
My true comfort test will be this weekend when I will be participating in Epic Ride’s Tour of the White Mountains 60 miler. I’ll update after the Tour with a true to booty time test.

Recommendation Factor:
I’ve been ranting and raving down at my LBS regarding the fact that I’ve found my saddle and I don’t really have any feel/fit/performance related issues. I have had a couple of people sit down and ride a little bit on the saddle and 1 out of 2 people have found it awesome just like me.  Sorry Specialized, I will not be buying another one of your saddles because my manly bits and sit bones thank me much for switching to Ergon.

Looking Forward:
At Interbike 2012 Ergon stated that they were going to be releasing a road saddle, a split carbon seat post, and a wider range of sizes for their 2013 model line.

Support your local bike shop and keep it rubber side down!

Disclaimer: This product was purchased with my own $ and was not donated. The review is based on solely on my experience and opinions. The goal is to be informative without being a puppet of any company.

Why do I ride?

Why do I ride?

I’ve thought about it for a while now, and I think I came up with my answer(s). I ride for fun, fitness, friendship, competition, and just for the love of riding.

You can’t call it just a hobby when you spend a lot of your time thinking about doing something. Obsession is just a silly word, so I would call it passion.  What else would drive you to wake up before the sun, fuel your body, prep your bike, and then go to the ride?

You find out your limits on the bike whether they be mental, emotional, or physical. I liken cycling to two wheeled therapy. Regardless of having a bad day, a ride makes it better. Even when you’re having a good day, a ride makes it better.

Spending time with people who share your passion and love for cycling just drives your enthusiasm to that next level.

Keep on pedaling, log those miles, push yourself, and most of all HAVE FUN!

Why do you ride?

Creatures of habit

I’ve been MIA for a while now but still keeping with my fitness.

I’ve found that people are a peculiar breed that tend to need some sort of routine to feel normal. I guess that I am no exception to life in that aspect. I thrive off of my routine. I wake up eat, get ready go to work, work, go to gym/workout, come home, shower eat, sleep (lots more eating during work hours). Generally there are specific times that I want to do all of those activities. If my schedule is augmented with some sort of other daily activity, like a training class that starts at a different time, generally throws my day and my attitude for a loop.

My routine is my comfort zone and my schedule helps keep me where I want to be. Planning is key to the majority of successes that I’ve had. Thinking about the future, I need to make different plans to see strength and performance gains.

Recently I participated in a mountain bike race race and a duathlon. Both events were awesome, and I had good results in both. I keep thinking back to both days and how it made me feel. The exhilaration of doing your best and knowing that all of the hard work and training that was done meant something.

I was inspired after I participated in the duathlon to actually attempt to take things to the next level and participate in a triathlon. That, after all, is the natural progression of things right? Inspiration generally means spending $ for equipment in the multisport world whether it be a new bike, running shoes, or swimming equipment. I bought some swimming equipment (paddles, pull buoy, kickboard) on a hookup from a triathlete buddy Audra with a discount code to Kompetitive Edge. Nothing bad to say about K E, all things were normal as far as shipping speed and charging my card. One thing that surprised me was that there was a “Thank You” card. Refreshing and awesome is all I can say about that!

One oversight that I made while making my purchases was a swimsuit (LAME). None of the ones that I have currently fit which isn’t incredibly horrible. I guess I’ll have to get another because going to the local pool with ill fitting swimwear is a no-no! Lycra hotness coming to a pool near you!

Hope to post more and not slack on this side of my journey!

Make plans, achieve progress, and keep your focus.

Looking back and moving forward

If you feel like your best days are behind you, then you’ve stopped living. Times can be tough and life can be hard, but we all have hardships whether they be big or small.

High school and college shouldn’t have been the pinnacle of your life. Friendships and memories that you had helped shape you into who you are now.

Everyday is a chance to be a better you and live a better life.

Youth, the older folks say, is wasted on the young. Don’t be wasteful! The best years of your life are ahead of you if you make it so.

Don’t sell yourself short by just existing…LIVE!!

There is nothing wrong with looking back but remember to keep moving forward.

Paleo and My Shopping List

For those who don’t know, I am starting a new eating regime this year (or for as long as I can).

I am going to attempt to eat Paleo or as Paleo as I can. For those of you who don’t know what it is, the diet basically allows for eating meat (lean cuts), fruits, veggies, fish, healthy oils, and nuts. Basically if you can’t pick it, kill it, or catch it they are a no no. The carbs you get are to come from fruits and veggies not from processed foods, sugars, rice, and other stuff that I like. If I am forgetting anything it is because I am getting ready to leave.

There are a couple things that I should address. Paleo generally calls for all organic…etc well I am not there yet and might not ever get there depending on cost. I like A1 sauce and I do a post workout protein shake which isn’t going either.

I was introduced to Paleo by lurking on the Nerdfitness community forums. They have a lot of people that have had a lot of success with Paleo and their muscle building goals coupled with fat loss so I decided to give it a shot.

Okay enough rambling…on to the list.

Shopping List:
Chicken
Beef
Eggs
Bison
Spinach
Tomatoes
Almonds unsalted
Pistachios unsalted
Green beans
Broccoli
Asparagus
Zucchini/squash
Mushrooms
Oranges
Apples
Dried fruit
Coconut oil
A1 Sauce

Ziplock sandwich bags
Dog food

I can’t eat ziplock bags or dog food but I don’t want to take them out.

Everyone has an opinion when you try something new, and I put it out there for everyone to see so I have to live with the negative comments and positive alike.

Wish me the best of luck and hope your fitness journey is as successful as mine has been.

Maybe I’ll post some of the recipes and pictures when I get my cookbook that I ordered.

Have a good one!

Constant Comparisons

I just thought that I would let it be known that I am constantly comparing myself with others to see how I measure up fitness wise. I do it on the bike, when I run, and when I lift.

This isn’t something that I did very frequently before I began trying to get my fitness together. Now I find myself doing it all the time.

I don’t really want to look like anyone in particular but I do have some goals in mind. Maybe it is a natural progression from one phase to another, but it makes me a little uneasy.

I don’t want to be that guy. I am not a tool, jerk, douche or anything of the like. I don’t feel like I am better than anyone or I am entitled to anything. I talk about my journey because people ask and because it excites me to see how far I have come.

It is definitely weird for people to tell me that I inspire them. I just feel like I made some big and not so big changes that ultimately got me to where I am today. I guess it is a change to get positive attention and compliments.

I figure that after people get used to the new me things will calm down.

Sometimes I feel like I still see that same fat guy that I used to be. For as much as things have changed, they have stayed the same in my head.

I have done a lot of physical shrinking, but now it is time to do some growing psychologically. Being the big guy for a large portion of my life doesn’t make for a quick adjustment to the not so big guy.

Self image is a difficult mistress to conquer!

Keep it positive and keep on pushing!

New Years Resolutions

So it is coming up on that time of year where people start to make up their minds that in 2012 they will make big changes and big things happen.

One of the most popular resolutions is “I’m going to lose _____ lbs!” That is a fantastic undertaking for anyone to notice that they are not happy with their bodies and want to make changes.

A byproduct of all of this new year enthusiasm are an influx of people occupying the gym or fitness facilities that we all like to use. While it is great to see people in there, there will be a crazy amount of congestion that will be frustrating because a workout that took you 30-45 minutes to complete before will take you that much longer. I know…whaaaaaa! Things will normalize after a month or two in the new year and you will possibly have some new gym buddies to get inspiration from and inspire (horray for the positive!).

If I can give you any advice about weight loss and becoming more healthy, it would be to NOT WAIT. What is stopping you from setting and achieving your goals in the here and now? The journey can be a long and frustrating one when you’re trying to get to where you want to be. If you start now, you’ll have a head start on progress on all gym newbies and you may be able to impart some knowledge onto someone else about what helped you.

Going into the new year just try to set attainable goals or even rewards along the way. It will help you gauge your progress and help stay motivated!

Instead of being a PROcrastinator become an ANTIcrastinator!

If you never start, you will never see results!

Weight Watching

Okay so today was a fantastic day for me and weight loss. I am at the lowest weight I have been as an adult and probably less than what I weighed in high school and some of middle school.

I have never stepped on the scale and had it say anything that ever started with a 1…I’ve been 2xx and 3xx before, but the scale said 199.4. I was like…what is this about? I checked it again like 3 or 4 times and it was the same. This puts me down 91 lbs since February when I began this journey and I have to say it feels good!

I wonder what new lows I can go to now. The past 3-4 weeks has been up to 206-207 then back down to 201-202 then back up then down then up then down!!! I have been yo-yoing and that is crazy frustrating. I guess I finally figured it out!

In the future the focus will be on strength and muscle building and getting my body fat % down to a lower level than it is now :).

I would also like to say that I made it through the Thanksgiving holiday by not gaining any weight and actually losing. Holidays where there are bad food choices running rampant makes for an easy way to pack on the pounds. The wife made an awesome dinner that was sensible and tasty!

Physicality is contagious…Pick your pleasurable experience whether it be hiking, biking, running, zumba, yoga, walking or whatever it is. The most important part about physical activity is that you actually enjoy what you do. It may not be easy at first, but the more you do it the easier it will become so challenge yourself to go to that next level.

Get up off the couch, turn off the TV, and go do something. You’ll thank yourself for it!

Don’t just exist…LIVE!

Thanksgiving Cross-Country Classic 5K “Race” Report

Entered a 5K on Thanksgiving Day (woo hoo that rhymed)….

Anyway, the idea all started about a week or so prior to the actual run. A friend of mine registered for it and I was like…what the heck why not? I guess feeling like I’m capable of doing a whole mess of things in this life is a good feeling to have! My confidence for various physical activities is growing day-by-day, and I want to have additional challenges that aren’t associated with just biking.

Knowing that the 5K was coming up definitely made me feel like I had a goal in the not-so-distant future that would allow me to wrangle in my focus and work my way to a decent, for me, finishing time. I decided that I would like to finish the 5K in less than 30 minutes. Now to the weirdness…I do not like to run outside. One of my main gripes about running outside is the fact that I do not know how fast I am going.

I ran into the same problem that I did while on my mountain bike…my iPhone’s dismal battery life wouldn’t allow me to use the applications that leveraged GPS for extensive amounts of time. To remedy my mountain biking problem, I ended up getting a Garmin Edge 500 with HRM that I got on a stellar deal used. I then began the search to find something that was within a decent price range and would fit the needs of what I want to accomplish running-wise. I ran across a blog for various GPS enabled running watches. DCRAINMAKER is a triathlete and reviewer for many and anything that is associated. I found an awesome review for the Timex Run Trainer (TRT) with ANT+ HRM and based on that review I pulled the trigger. I ordered it on the Thursday prior to the race and got it on Monday. I had done some indoor running on the treadmill when I signed up and even a little before. I now realize that this wasn’t a mistake, but definitely put me at a disadvantage for running in the great outdoors. After I got the TRT, the next day I went for a 1 mile run around the track at work. I made it around the track, but I definitely felt like running outside was a whole different world than on the treadmill. This was the only run that I did outside prior to the race.

Okay..RACE DAY (lol I feel silly calling it a race because I feel like I’d have to fetch a podium spot to be in the race)

I wake up early (430ish) and drive up to Tucson. The packet pickup starts at 7, the women’s 5K starts at 8 and the men’s at 845. I watch the start of the women’s race cheered as my friend went by then started to stretch and try to warm up prior to the men’s start. Warming up consisted of me walking around a bit, talking to some people, stretching, taking pictures of my shoes, and using the bathroom. After I was all warmed up, I went to the starting area and put myself around mid-pack. This start didn’t have any discernible hierarchy as far as the racers’ times and skill levels. SIDE NOTE – this race also didn’t have timing chips but a system of where they would rip off some portion of your race number and put it on a string (didn’t find that out until the end).

During the race I was going to try to settle in to a 10 min/mi pace, which is how fast I generally run on the treadmill, so I figured that would be a good pace for me to maintain to obtain my sub 30min 5K goal.

And we’re off…
The gun goes off and so do the runners. It took about 15-20 seconds for me to get across the starting line due to the mass of cattle that was engaging the starting line. I start off and  after I get into the clear, I start eyeing my GPS to make sure that it was tracking and that I was maintaining the pace that I wanted. Turns out that I was going faster than pace, but if felt “OK” so I kept going. I ran around a good number of people passing some and getting passed by others (which is fine) into and out of the turns which winded through Reid Park. There were hills which were foreign to me that I went up at a snail’s pace then resumed my pace. I encountered some hay bails and mud pits. There were only 2 mud pit crossings per lap (2 lap course) and of course I made across the first pit then PLOP-SPLASH-SQUISH my left foot landed in the larger of the 2 pits (LAME!!). Now I wasn’t even finished with my first lap, and I have a squishy left foot. I complete the first lap and am still feeling good at my pace. 1 lap down 1 lap to go! The second lap was a bit harder because cardio fatigue was starting to set in. I winded my way around the course over some hay bails and back to the mud pits. Just like the first time PLOP-SPLASH-SQUISH left foot again into the mud! My pretty shoes weren’t clean or new anymore so I didn’t really care at that point. I felt myself slowing at the 2.5 mile mark so I tried my best to keep it up. Mile 3 past now there was only .1 miles left so I tried to increase my pace so I could finish faster but my legs were like FU and my breathing was like FU too but I chugged away! Okay BOOM done! Yay I finished my first official 5K.

I stopped my watch as I crossed the finish and it said 27.22.54 (unofficial) which was better than the 30 minute goal I had set and later I got the race time of 27.23.0(official) which is pretty close to what I timed using my watch. I ripped off my little tag thing and handed it to the people collecting them in the chutes. Went to get some water, ate a half a cinnamon raisin bagel, and went back to the finish to wait on my coworker that was running that day as well and cheered him on as he crossed the line.

Lessons learned:

  1. Running on the treadmill doesn’t substitute outdoor running.
  2. Setting goals and surpassing them makes you feel awesome.
  3. I was out of my league with some of the fasties running (XC skinny legged tall dude types).
  4. Running faster, longer, and stronger is a new goal for the upcoming year.

The funniest part of the whole day for me was after I first soaked my foot in the mud mess, I pass a guy that said “wow that isn’t a good sound” referring to my squishy foot antics. All I could say was nope and keep on going.

Race Data via Training Peaks

This event was put on by the Southern Arizona Roadrunners who hold various running events in the Southern Arizona area. I think that I’d like a timing chip next time just so that the timing will have a more precise mechanism than what they were using, but the event was cheap and it was a good experience. I look forward to doing more races with SAR in the future hopefully leading up to a half marathon.

If you push yourself you’ll end up surprising yourself.

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

2011 El Tour de Tucson Ride Report

Last Saturday, me and a few friends from the next town over went up to Tucson and participated in the 2011 El Tour de Tucson 111 mile ride.

The weather was great for a long day on the bike. It was probably in the upper 50s to lower 60s and overcast for the entire ride.

The group of us were riding together, but eventually one-by-one we got separated and then I was riding solo for probably the last 45ish miles. It stunk to not have anyone I knew to ride with, but during that period of time, I tried to work on my drafting/group riding skills. There were a couple of times where I was pacing with a group at 25+ mph and that definitely helped keep me going.

This was my first organized ride that featured this such a distance and this many people. Apparently there were over 8,000 people who entered the various length rides. Even though I was out there by myself, I wasn’t out there by myself if you catch my drift. Being out there with that many people and that distance I had a few concerns.

  1. What would I do if someone in front of me crashed?
  2. See # 1.
  3. Would I run out of food?
  4. Would I be able to make it the whole way?

Well.. no one crashed right in front of me, but there were people who had crashed at some point in time and there was some carnage. One guy was bloodied, being put into a sling, and doing the moan-groan thing.

I didn’t run out of food. I actually feel like I had TOO MUCH food. I had like 5 Honey Stinger waffles, 3 Honey Stinger chews, 6 Oreos at one of the aid stations, and as far as hydration I had 3 bottles of Carbo Rocket then several bottles of water along the route.

I did make it the whole way, but not without some aches and pains. One area that I was particularly worried about, the male manly bits soft parts area, I did not have any issues with at all. No soreness, no chewed-uppage, and life was grand in the taint region for me (YAY!). Some areas that I wasn’t concerned with at all that gave me issues were my quads and my knee. About mile 75 I noticed that I had quite a bit of muscle fatigue. I was thinking that I would go the whole ride unscathed from muscle fatigue for some reason. I should have known better because I had never ridden any distance over 80 miles before. There were some climbs after mile 75 that got me out of the saddle and made me feel like my legs were going to just give up on me and leave me on the side of the road. Coupled with the muscle soreness, I started to get some pain on the inside of my right knee. The muscle fatigue and the knee pain started right around the same time. I don’t know if that is coincidence or just plain luck that they did.

The last 20 miles or so were pretty horrible for me because my legs were toast, my knee would hurt anytime I needed to unclip (stop light or aid station). My pace definitely fell a great bit from when I was pacing with a large group. I felt alone and defeated at this point. I pushed on and the last 3 or so miles I found someone to ride and talk with who was, like me, just trying to finish.

The finish line was a sight for sore eyes, legs, and knee. I was done physically, and done mentally. I would have never thought that it would also take mental toughness to complete an event like this. It definitely seemed like it would NEVER END.

I am glad that I had a great group to ride with even though we weren’t together the whole time. I feel accomplished and very proud of myself and everyone else that completed the ride.

Some things that I learned…

  1. Training is something that I probably should have done more of.
  2. Endurance is something that is gained over time.
  3. People with super expensive bikes don’t necessarily ride better. (ain’t this the truth it is about the engine not the bike)
  4. Being in the saddle for 6+ hours is a LONG TIME!
  5. One pedal stroke after the other will keep you going.

I finished the ride in 6:56:57:68 with right around 6:20 in the saddle between the stops, catching or waiting on the group, and aid stations.

Next year I will train and try to aim for a sub 6 hour time or better! Gotta have goals right?

Garmin Connect Ride Data: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/129719980

Pictures taken by Mertie..thanks man!

Right before the start.Image

Right after the finish.Image

Receiving my medal.Image

It definitely was a great day and a lot was learned. I look forward to kicking butt next year!