What is the first piece of advice someone will give you when you ask about kit for cycle touring – nope its not have good maps, or get a fancy new GPS, or even disc brakes over rim brakes. Actually it's, and I quote, “get a Brookes saddle”…these people are not your friends.
Do not be fooled by their worldly, all-knowing aura or the insistence that their saddle is now like sitting on an old friend (on behalf of Brookes saddle owners everywhere, old friends, I apologise).
Brookes is a British company which make leather saddles for your trusty bike, the idea being that you wear in the leather to the exact shape of your derrière, like you would a leather walking boot. Once it’s worn in it’s the most comfortable and healthiest thing a long distance cyclist can do for their bum. The leather won’t shift or move like gel seats will after a months in the saddle, and will support your bum in all the right places. But what these so-called friends and wise-internet-types won’t tell you is that before the saddle is a perfect mould of your posterior there is anything between 3 months to 2 years (!) of pedalling before it’s worn in. That’s 3 months to 2 years (!) of cycling on the most uncomfortable seat you could possibly imagine. I'm talking seriously uncomfortable. Since moving back to the UK at the start of April I've been on a few rides to build up my fitness and everyday I wake up hoping to see that the leather has softened, but no, nothing, not a sausage, nada.
Make no mistake, buying a Brookes saddle is a test of determination and steely perseverance with no guarantee that the leather will have moulded even by the time we reach Hong Kong. All I have is blind trust that it will pay off. Luckily, if there’s anything I can do well its stubborn determination, so my dear Brookes saddle, I believe you have met your match!
For a bit of extra encouragement I'm considering cycling the UK part of the journey with a sign saying ‘Beep if you've ever had to wear in a Brookes saddle”
Thus, potential, future cycling buddies, the best advice I will give you is to get yourself to a shop immediately and buy your booty a pair of padded cycling shorts, in fact get two pairs. You can thank me later. Preferably in the form of cheesecakes. Plural.
Footnote: Charlie (the human) hasn't bought a Brookes saddle yet, should she join me in my misery?
A Wheely Long Journey Blog
Charlie and Lou are twins from Cheshire, UK on a mission to cycle back to their childhood home in Hong Kong.