The Battle Between Bum and Saddle

An article highlighting how the injuries from the saddle bum battle arise and how to best remedy them whilst on a long distance cycle and on a budget. As well as how to keep that remedy practical for a long distance tour.

Problems

As many cyclists will know a long distance cycle ride can results in some serious butt pain. This can be due to a few reasons:

Pressure – If your bike position isn’t set up properly you can have too much pressure on your bum and it can lead to pain, like any other part of the body would react if subjected to too much pressure for a long period of time.

Heat – On a hot summers day, in black cycling shorts your groin area is going to get seriously hot which can lead to heat sores/rash. These heat sores are extremely painful to sit on and can resemble a prickly burning feeling when sitting on the affected area.

Friction – This can be due skin rubbing on skin or skin rubbing on shorts. Friction will cause more heat and results in the same symptoms as heat as well as skin chaffing.

Remedies

Chamois Cream

Chamois cream was originally formulated to soften the padding in woollen cycling shorts. Nowadays the padding in cycling shorts are fully synthetic and very soft and comfortable. However chamois cream has stuck around because it helps lubricate everything and in turn reduce the friction in your groin area.

There many chamois creams out there which are readily available by searching: Chamois Cream in your search engine. However being a cheap skate student I would like to highlight that these are quite expensive for a small volume which won’t last very long. Now this might be fine if your using it for weekend rides but when your touring you need it to last long and be readily available where ever you might be.

Alternative to Chamois Cream

The following are good for a long cycle tours because they are available in large volume size, for a moderate price tag and in most European supermarkets.

Sudocrem – This works on the same principle as most chamois cream by keeping everything well lubricated to try and reduce the heat. Its really great at reducing the friction and because it’s an antiseptic cream it will reduce the risk of getting any infections which would otherwise but a stop to your cycle. It’s disadvantage is that it soaks in quicker than a chamois cream so you have to re apply several times.

Talcum Powder – Talcum powder works in two ways: It absorbs the sweat to keeps your groin cool and it provides some reduction in friction. Similarly to sudocrem it needs re applying more regularly than chamois cream.

Natural – Or if it works for you can use nothing. Some people just don’t suffer from the butt pain, whether its because they don’t sweat as much so it doesn’t get very hot or they’re more man than the rest of us one cannot ignore that come cyclists don’t use anything and subsequently don’t feel anything.

Personal Experience

On a month long cycling trip I did I began the trip using heap loads sudocrem before, during and after cycling. Although I used a lot and I was nearly always fully lubed up I developed heat sores which was immensely painful to sit on, let alone cycle for 80 miles a day on. So I resorted to using talcum powder, before and during cycling. I found it immediately cooler whilst cycling and never got any chaffing symptoms. However I still had the heat sores I had developed so every night I would sleep naked and apply sudocrem. Before the end of my ride all my heat sores had gone and I had fallen in love with talcum powder.

Now the other eight I cycled with all had very different approaches and got very different results:

One lad used sudocrem and stuck with sudocrem but was in pain the whole trip.

Another used chamois cream sparingly and on some days would use sudocrem he was in average pain for an average amount of time on the trip

The hero. He used nothing and felt nothing right until the last few days where he, like the rest of us, developed heat sores.

Conclusion

Now I’m not trying to confuse you I’m simply trying too illustrate that everyone’s bum saddle battles are different. Peoples skin will develop heat sores at different temperatures and people have different pain threshold so can put up with more or less.

My advice is firstly:

  • Get your bike size and saddle height right otherwise your immediately worsening the problem.
  • Get yourself some padded, good fit and well vented cycling shorts.
  • Try different things by going on long rides in hot temperatures using different products and see what works for you. Remember just because chamois cream is expensive it doesn’t mean it will be the best for you.

A good protocol:

  1. Apply your chosen product before cycling
  2. Keep toped up during the day.
  3. When you can take your cycling shorts off and wear really baggy clothing.
  4. At night wear really baggy clothing and apply an antiseptic cream to reduce the risk of infection.

If anyone has any questions or personal experience and advice please comment below.

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