Just about every newcomer to a Spinning® class complains that his or her butt hurts. That is not what I’m talking about here. If you spend hours in the saddle – in the studio or on the road or trail – you may well have experienced saddle sores. It happens to the best of us.
We’ve all seen the ads for chamois cream – or something similar. Contrary to my first thought, such a lubricant is not meant for the rider with chubby thighs that rub together as the pedals turn. Body types from skinny butt to muscled glutes and quads are all vulnerable. Sometimes identifying a saddle sore is a bit of a surprise. Though a rash might be your particular genre, some develop bumps or boils that are uncomfortable enough to spoil or even prevent a ride. What a sad excuse to miss training!
While logging extra miles earlier this summer, I earned my own version of bumps and learned the hard way how to prevent and deal with saddle sores. After some research I learned that the best cure for this uncomfortable condition when it has flared to the red zone is simply to take a few days off and stay out of the saddle and off the bike. Few of us want to do that, but sometimes it’s the ultimate answer. Or, if the flare-up is intense, a visit for a medical opinion might well be on the books.
But, there are steps to be taken. Hygiene is a major culprit. After a ride we should strip off those shorts post haste and take a good shower immediately – or, in the alternative, wash well. Shorts should be laundered after each ride. An application of one of the many chamois creams on the market is a must – at least until your condition clears up – as most contain a healing agent in the cream. Even if you don’t experience what you perceive as chafing, the cream helps.
Here’s where I will ask for help from you – the reader – as I’m sure each of you has found something else that works for you. Please share!
But perhaps this is a bandaid approach. Perhaps the cause lies elsewhere than hygiene. Check your bike fit. Often a professional bike fit (or at least a very careful one from someone who should know) answers a boat-load of questions and solves a variety of problems. In my case, I noticed that my saddle sore attack was more noticeable on one side than the other. I took my bike to my local shop and asked them to check the seat. After much deliberation it was discovered that my seat was turned ever so slightly to the offending side. (The fitter was amazed that I had felt it. I had – but didn’t explain!) With more deliberate care pre and post ride, my problem vanished and has stayed away.
There are, of course, many tricks to this business. It’s amazing how much one can learn checking into blogs on just about any topic. I found good answers to my own needs this way – as well as through books and articles. I think the simplest solution was one of habit. All summer I was in the habit of doing my LSD early on Saturday morning, stopping by a local coffee shop and doing my Superman changing act in their restroom – entering in bike attire and exiting in a sundress and sandals - and then driving 2 hours to visit my grandchildren – play with them for a few hours – and driving back home late at night. Mind you, I was cleaned up and sweet-smelling, but I was not thoroughly soaked and showered. Sometimes its as simple as that.
What about you? Have you had an experience you’d like to share? What about spending hours in a Spinning® conference trying not to miss a single minute of a ride? Does that cause discomfort? And, BTW, don’t forget to share the news that big plush saddles or those padded saddle seat covers are actually more uncomfortable in the long run. For those of us who ride on the road, it doesn’t take long to realize that the hard and narrow way is the best way to go. Time and experience. Well, so much for an uncomfortable topic…