Nothing better than riding your bike in the spring sun with a fresh breeze through your hair. When winter is really behind, we’re extra excited to take out our by now dusty bike from our shed, clean it off, and get those first kilometers in! Though, after that first ride, the excitement drops just as quickly as it came, because the sitting in the saddle just isn't comfortable.
We too, have that problem sometimes, but that should not keep us from doing our training. We have listed some tips and tricks that might be useful. Let’s enjoy those kilometers to the max!
Tip #1. Your saddle.
Are you still using the saddle that came with your bike when you bought it? Chances are that this is not the saddle that suits you. A lot of quality bike shops will be able to measure the width of your sit bones, which you’ll be able to use to pick the saddle that’s right for you. This alone may not solve the problem right away, you’ll have to take some time to adjust to it.
Tip #2. Your bike shorts.
Another easy fix, most of the rubbing comes from low quality cycling shorts or cycling shorts that are just too big. If the chamois wrinkles in your groin area, chances are you’ll have a lot of irritation at the end of your bike ride. On a side note, this can also happen when you pull your leg warmers up too high, so make sure you don’t pull them up all the way. Also, don’t wear underwear under your bike shorts. The seems will cause extra rubbing! Obviously, the shape and thickness of the chamois is of great importance to your comfort and you’ll find there really is a difference in quality between brands. You won’t be able to expect much from bike shorts you bought at the Lidl sale. You’ll find that when you’re willing to pay that little more, the quality will be that much higher.
Tip #3. Washing your shorts.
This trick is an add-on to tip #2. You’ll see that as you wash your shorts, the chamois will begin to wear down and you’d like to be careful with your new bike shorts. A good quality chamois will last you at least 2 years, riding 2 or 3 times a week, but you’ll find that after that the quality will decrease. Don’t try to expand the life of your shorts by washing them less frequently, because that will only work against it. However short your bike ride was, don’t wear the same shorts again the next day without having washed them. A chamois is a breeding place for bacteria; wash them! You don’t need to wash your shorts on 60 degrees. 40 is high enough. It’s also better for your bike shorts life span to let them air dry and not machine dry them. Don’t use too much washing detergent and preferably no fabric softener. Both of those can cause irritability while sweating in them on your next ride.
"Obviously, the shape and thickness of the chamois is of great importance to your comfort and you’ll find there really is a difference in quality between brands."
Tip #4. And then this..
For women, there’s more to it than just having your bike equipment in order. Ourselves too, we like to keep up with ‘down there’. Riding with hair that is just regrowing (stubble) is asking for trouble, but shaving every day has it’s downsides too. Make sure you carefully scrub every now and then to make sure ingrown hair doesn’t stand a chance. These can grown into little lumps that will not at all be enjoyable while on your saddle. You may also chose to get waxed. You’ll be able to ride your bike stubble free for a while, but you’ll have to put yourself through a little pain at first.
Tip #5. Applying Creams
A frequently asked question is whether it’s useful to apply cream before riding. Opinions vary from one end of the spectrum to the other. If you want to use something, pick udder cream over vaseline. Udder cream is mostly vaseline, but it has an extra substance/ingredient that will avoid skin irritability and protects against infections. The only downside to it is that it’s very oily and it’s possible it will leave stains in your shorts, which can create a bacteria breeding environment. Diaper rash creams are a good alternative, because these are water based instead of oil based and are easier to wash out. However, those creams are more likely to be absorbed by your skin and you might end up having rubbing spots after all. Another alternative is the ‘Assos Chamois Cream’ which was created by the brand Assos. This cream will give you a tingly/fresh feeling, which not all women enjoy, so this is depends on your personal preference. After riding and showering you can use some skin oil to calm the skin and relieve any irritability.
"..don’t wear the same shorts again the next day without having washed them"
Tip #6. Training
Just like your legs you also have to work your saddle area. To jump on your bike for 3 hours or more directly would not be very wise. Build up your rides a little so you don’t end up storing your bike in the shed after your first ride, that would be a waste the time you took to brush off the dust in the first place.