Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Saddle sores?

Our friends at BIKERACEINFO have a great feature today about a subject nobody likes to talk ...or even think about - saddle sores. Below is the link:

Above: two keys to cycling happiness - a good "chamois" and the right cream

Below are some additional tips and comments based on our many decades of cycling:

We're not so sure saddle sores can be blamed on a bad "fit" or position on your bicycle, as the example of Tom Dumoulin would suggest otherwise. These things have happened to pros and punters alike for probably as long as bicycles have existed.

Quality shorts are a must unless you have a rear-end made of iron. Don't think those cheapo shorts will have the same fit and padded insert as the high-quality ones. If you have yet to settle on the best one for you or are having issues, experiment with some other brands. 

Launder your shorts after every ride, even "on-tour" we wash ours in the hotel sink or bidet after every ride. At home use the "hand-wash" setting on your machine with the slowest spin possible, otherwise the spin force can wrinkle the foam inside your pad in a way you can never repair. Use good detergent...products like Woolite are not strong enough for this task in our opinion. Some of the clothing makers offer their own detergents but we think a quality laundry soap made for hand-washing is just fine. Make sure the shorts are dry before you use them again. Modern pads are anti-bacterial in most cases but why take a chance?

Make sure YOU are clean too! In Europe it's easy via the bidet but if you have no access to such comforts, disposable moist-towelettes can come in handy. 

Chamois creams have their fans while some avoid them like the plague. We're fans, especially of Hibros soprasella. Back-in-the-day when the chamois was actually a deerskin (ie chamois) taking care of them was another type of pain-in-the-a__. If you weren't careful they'd dry up just like that thing you used to wipe the water spots off your car and then you'd have to soften them up with stuff that smelled awful and was more like axle grease than cream. 

Once you got the thing softened up, you had to be very careful with it until time to put the shorts on as this greasy stuff would grab anything and everything, which meant you'd be sitting on it for hours! The worst was at a race or ride when you'd be trying to quickly pull the shorts on in or behind your car and in the haste to cover your nakedness the thing would touch the floor or worse, the ground!

These days, since the synthetic pads don't get hard and crack, you can apply the cream to your rear-end instead and be free of the fear of contamination. If the pad doesn't need softening, why use cream? In our opinion the drive to "keep you dry" down there has resulted in pads that are too hydrophilic. The moisture that develops once you start exercising used to sort of glue the chamois/pad to your rear-end back-in-the day. Any friction was between the pad/shorts and the saddle rather than between you and the pad.

With modern shorts that moisture is too quickly drawn away so these days a little cream is needed to help the pad stick to you so any friction is again between the shorts and saddle. It also minimizes the damage from any friction between you and the pad. The trick is to find a cream that's thick enough to do this job, but not so thick and gooey that you can't wash it out of the shorts/pad. We've tried a lot of brands over the years, but Hibros is our current favorite - by far.

Despite all this, if you do find yourself getting an abrasion or sore down there, apply a bit of Hibros cream after your shower. In a day or two we'll bet you'll be good to go again!

Disclaimer: Nalini and Hibros are official suppliers to CycleItalia

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