Happy Butt = Happy Ride
No one likes a sore bottom out there oozing from saddle sores, chaffed so raw its bleeding, or in so much pain you can’t imagine another minute in the saddle. Below are my learned experiences for reducing or eliminating your butt sufferfest on long rides. Everyone wants a happy butt! lol
First, start with a professional fit (see Best Bike Fit for RAW – Part1 and Best Bike Fit for RAW – Part2) to make sure that your butt isn’t taking on more than it should. Check saddle height, angle, forward and backward position, frame size, and much much more. Your saddle is extremely important. Your body and bicycle need to move in a fluid and harmonious balance of power and grace. Riding a bicycle is like dancing with a partner, with the right fit you can enjoy every minute and feel connected in ways you thought weren’t possible. With the wrong fit it is a miserable and uncomfortable experience where you just can’t wait for it to be over.
Good Bibs & Chamois Pad
After the fit of course it comes down to a good chamois pad in your bibs or cycling shorts. DO NOT PINCH PENNIES on your bibs or cycling shorts. Not all bibs and cycling shorts are created equal. There are many major name brands that produce both low end bibs/shorts and high end bibs/shorts. A general rule of thumb is the more expensive the bibs the better the fabric, the better seams and thread, and most of all – the better the chamois! That’s right, you want the best chamois that money can buy. But of course, not all of our butts are the same. Just as there is no such thing as a universal saddle that fits comfortably for all of us, there are differences in chamois pads as well. The best thing you can do is some internet research and then start sampling different bibs/shorts to see which chamois pads you prefer. This can be expensive. But hey, almost everything related to cycling is expensive so why should this be any different? 😉
My personal choice of cycling bibs, chamois, fabric, seams and thread are found in my own private label of apparel. I have been so sick and tired of trying on every manufacturer’s version of high end custom bibs for our racing team that I started my own cycling apparel company back in the summer of 2015. I have sourced everything from Europe using only the finest fabrics and chamois pads comparable to the Assos brand and have them sewn together in Columbia. I do not sell them widely to the public but have preferred to keep my label private and a resource to my cycling team based here in Arizona and Utah. This was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We now produce cycling kits (the full array of options and patterns) that feel and perform better than $400 kits sold online or in bike shops across the country. Our private label brand of cycling apparel spares no expense in the materials and manufacturing process. A wise investment for sure.
Understandably most cyclists will not spend a year building a cycling apparel company like I did just to make sure they have the best bibs and chamois pad out there. So my best piece of advice is to simply save up your cash and do some trial and error on bibs and chamois pads.
Once you nail down the best bibs for your bottom then we need to chat about chamois cream. My personal recommendation is Doc’s Skincare Natural Chamois Cream with Tea Tree Oil. This stuff is amazing. My cycling coach is a pro cyclist and her whole team swears by it. I figured I’d give it a try. I’m hooked! I have used every version of DZ Nuts, Chamois Butter, etc. But this Doc’s brand with tea tree oil is wonderful. The tea tree oil provides an extra element of cleanliness and disinfectant type qualities to the cream that can seriously help reduce the onset of infected hair follicles and saddle sores. Awesome stuff. Of course Chamois Cream in general is awesome because it reduces friction and helps ease the pain of chaffing, etc. Whatever brand you use, make sure you have it at the ready for your long rides. Some cyclists apply it to the chamois, while others apply it directly to the parts of your butt and privates that get sore and rub. Either way, get yourself some chamois cream and apply it liberally!
The Double Bib Technique
Yep, that’s right. Wearing two pairs of bibs is genius! A couple of years ago I engaged in several full ironman triathlons without having ridden my bike at all. I was trying a CrossFit experiment where I would show up to ironman with only having trained through crossfit endurance style of WODs. For those of you who are new to the CrossFit culture, WOD stands for Workout Of the Day. None of my workouts were running, swimming, or biking related. So my butt was not ready to sit in the saddle for 5 hours. I was worried. I asked around and an older wiser cyclist gave me some life changing advice, he said wear two pairs of cycling shorts. I thought to myself, “why not?” I tried it and have never been so grateful for such poignant advice.
Since then I have competed all sorts of endurance cycling events and ultra cycling activities. The double bib technique has proven to be very effective. I highly recommend it. I have also read and heard in the RAAM Ultra-Cycling Forum that some cyclists will do variation on the double bib idea. They actually wear the second pair of bibs inside out with the pads outside directly on the saddle. They claim this reduces friction by putting lycra against lycra. Makes sense to me, but I haven’t tried it yet. I will definitely try that soon. A link to the original photo and discussion is here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10209016548597142&set=gm.606375642847043&type=3&theater
Bib Change & Wash Up
Of course, on the ultra cycling rides you will want to change your bibs every 4-6 hours. The pad starts to feel flat and nasty with sweat, grime, and any other garbage that gets in there. This cesspool of body fluids and chamois cream can lead to nasty saddle sores. Some saddle sores (a.k.a. love nuggets) are solely attributed to bacteria getting inside a hair follicle or other cut. Changing your bibs out with a fresh clean pair combined with a quick washing of your bottom area can prevent some of the bacteria from accumulating and building up saddle sores.
In terms of cleaning up the bottom area… nothing is as good as a shower. However, in RAW/RAAM showers are simply not the wisest idea for the racers as it may take too much time. My plan is to use these two different body wipes. One is called the ShowerPill and is an athletic antibacterial body wipe with aloe vera and vitamin E. They are supposed to be extra thick and very handy. I look forward to trying them out very soon in preparation for my 2016 RAW experience. I have also purchased the Defense Body Wipes that are a similar product with anti bacterial qualities but no aloe vera or vitamin E that I am aware of. My intention it to test both of these out to see what may work best. I’m guessing that some sort of wet sponge and towel can be useful as well that your crew can readily make available to you. This is a new area for me and I intend on figuring out what works best for me but would love to hear from others on their experiences. I know I can learn a lot from those that have gone before me.
Ice Bath & Hemorrhoid Cream & Essential Oils
If you get a sore butt, saddle sores, or any other discomfort from your ultra cycling rides then take an ice bath immediately after the ride. This will greatly help reduce the swelling all around your butt, and privates. Of course, it helps reduce the swelling and inflammation of your sore leg muscles as well. I LOVE ice baths, then I start to sit in the bath and all of the sudden I HATE ice baths. Once I become numb all over and the pain is gone I remember that I LOVE ice baths again. It’s a real love hate relationship. lol
Hemorrhoid cream can be liberally used directly on the swollen saddle sores to help reduce swelling, pain, and discomfort. The old tale is to apply a liberal amount on the saddle sore before you ride, after showering and before bed. Be warned though, sometimes these sorts of creams and treatments can make saddle sores worse and get in there and prolong the infection from healing. It just depends on the sort of saddle sore you have. I know others use all sorts of home remedies like essential oils as well to help reduce the inflammation of saddle sores and to clean them out. Such oils as tea tree oil and others. Warning: essential oils can BURN something fierce and make you regret that you ever applied them to your sensitive bits in the first place. If you go down this road I recommend finding someone like your crazy aunt, or your mom’s crazy aunt, or your own crazy mom who knows which ones to apply before you blindly put them on. Of course, get the oils from them and put them on yourself unless you don’t mind the “crazy aunt” getting up in your sensitive areas… Lets be honest, most of all know someone in our family or circle who is involved with essential oils. Track them down and try it. But be careful…
Ride safe and have fun!
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Bike Accident Attorneys, PLC
Call Ben Dodge, the Bicycle Lawyer today at 1.855.663.3922. Reach him by fax at 1.800.958.8902.
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4824 E. Baseline Rd., Suite 124
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2415 e. Camelback rd., suite 700
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One South Church Avenue, 12th Floor
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