If you ever encounter SPD Officer Robert Brown on one of his two-wheeled patrols, take a second to quiz the man about his junk. By all accounts, it is in tip-top condition, though it wasn't always so.
The New York Times reported yesterday afternoon that, by switching to an ergonomic "no-nose" saddle on his mountain bike, Brown was able to relieve several hundred pounds of pressure he had been putting on his crotch for multiple hours each day in the line of duty. As a result of Brown's weight resting on his pelvic bones rather than his groin as he rides, the Times informs us that "During his sleep, when he wore a monitor, the measure known as 'percent of time erect' increased to 28 percent from 18 percent."
Brown and his fellow Seattle bike cops volunteered their private parts for a six-month experiment conducted by NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. A reproductive physiologist named Dr. Steven Schrader wanted to determine whether the pointed snout that protrudes from the end of most bike saddles causes genital numbness and erectile dysfunction.
Apparently, when riders--both male and female--straddle a standard bike seat, the majority of their body weight is centered on the perineum, soft tissue in the groin area between the genitals and anus more commonly called the taint. The constant pressure, the scientists says, reduces blood-oxygen levels in this precious part of the body by 80 percent. Not surprisingly, that can take a toll on guys like Brown who ride their bikes for eight hours a day,
The solution, it seems, is a "no-nose" saddle, such as the kind produced by BiSaddle. These contraptions consist of two cushions, spaced just a few inches apart, that cradle the ass cheeks of cyclists while allowing blood to flow freely to their balls.
The Times' John Tierney explains the scientific experiments to which Brown and others submitted themselves to prove the NIOSH doc's hypothesis:
Dr. Schrader has documented the results with the help of a couple of pieces of equipment, the biothesiometer and the Rigiscan.
"The biothesiometer is a device in which the men set their penis into a trough, and it slowly starts to vibrate," he explained. "They push the button when they can feel the vibration. While it sounds delightful, it's actually not. The Rigiscan is a machine the men wear at night that grabs the penis about every 15 seconds to see if it's erect. It's not as pleasant as it sounds, either."
But, unlike Brown, most of the bike cops who participated in the study passed their evenings no more engorged than usual after switching to the funky-looking saddles. Nevertheless, the ride is reportedly more comfortable, and the majority of SPD's bike unit have stuck with the no-nose saddles after the trial run. As Tierney points out, "Why, if you had an easy alternative, would you take any risk with that part of the anatomy?"
Still, according to the Times, the alternative saddles are not catching on, in part because they're not fashionable and not used by professional racers. More important, they might as well come equipped with a big sign that reads "I have been experiencing numbness in my nether regions!"
Brown, however, doesn't seem the least bit embarrassed about his outspoken efforts to protect and preserve the schlongs of his fellow policemen. He sounds like kind of a badass--an avid climber, he once helped rescue a man who nearly drowned after his wife fell to hear death in the North Cascades--and has nothing to be ashamed of. That said, Brown might be in for an awkward conversation next time he stops to question a NYT subscriber.