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  1. #1
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    Trust me - Buy the shorts

    I've been commuting to work (40 mile R/T) for about three months now. I didn't have any bike shorts. I was wearing cotton boxer briefs and cotton gym shorts. Sure, I was getting some saddle sores, but I thought "HTFU, boy. People used to ride bikes while wearing tweed suits."

    Yeah, right.

    I just got back from the doctor's office. I developed a HUGE boil where the saddle sores were. Ah yes....there's nothing like lying face down on a table while a doctor saws away on your buttocks like she's carving up the Thanksgiving Day turkey while saying "OK, don't move now...."



    She didn't even manage to get all of it out. I've got to take some antibiotics and go back on Thursday so she can dig around in there some more. I hope she uses something more sophisticated than an apple corer, a teaspoon and a carpet knife this time.

    Saturday I bought some bicycle undershorts w/ chamois in them. I also bought some of that butt butter they sell. I don't know how long it'll be before I'm up to riding once more, but when I do you can be damned sure I'll be appropriately attired.

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    I'm sorry to hear about that, that doesn't sound like a fun experience! I'm sure you'll be back to riding soon enough. Just wait for your first ride with the cycling shorts--I'm sure you'll love it. I don't use any of that cream stuff, but cycling shorts really do make a world of difference.

  3. #3
    Senior Member EdgewaterDude's Avatar
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    If not shorts, at least try some moisture-wicking compression shorts or something of that sort. For my long rides, I use these under my shorts and it's been OK for the time being. I still have a bit of a raw taint, so I'm thinking a chamois and cream could work, too.

  4. #4
    Bicycle Commuter Bluish Green's Avatar
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    Get well soon!

    Like a lot of new bicycle commuters, I was hesitant to try bike shorts because they were pricey and I didn't want to be seen in spandex.

    I finally bought some, put on polyester gym shorts over the top, and I have not looked back. I'm a big believer now.

    There are enough things to worry about when commuting; bike shorts make sure your bottom isn't one of them.

    I hope you are back in the saddle again soon.

  5. #5
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    The first pair I bought had a synthetic pad. The next pair was chamois. I now have several pairs, all decent quality synthetic. The shorts are a given, and now I can't stand riding without them. Chamois isn't necessary.
    Freedom is free. It's included in democracy. Democracy is hard. It involves dealing rationally with people you disagree with.

  6. #6
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    For me, not only did I switch from cotton to spandex sports undergarments under my street clothes, but I went with the addition of a really slick leather saddle as well.


    I definitely trust you, the switch made a huge difference in after ride comfort.

  7. #7
    bragi bragi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    I've been commuting to work (40 mile R/T) for about three months now. I didn't have any bike shorts. I was wearing cotton boxer briefs and cotton gym shorts. Sure, I was getting some saddle sores, but I thought "HTFU, boy. People used to ride bikes while wearing tweed suits."

    Yeah, right.

    I just got back from the doctor's office. I developed a HUGE boil where the saddle sores were. Ah yes....there's nothing like lying face down on a table while a doctor saws away on your buttocks like she's carving up the Thanksgiving Day turkey while saying "OK, don't move now...."



    She didn't even manage to get all of it out. I've got to take some antibiotics and go back on Thursday so she can dig around in there some more. I hope she uses something more sophisticated than an apple corer, a teaspoon and a carpet knife this time.

    Saturday I bought some bicycle undershorts w/ chamois in them. I also bought some of that butt butter they sell. I don't know how long it'll be before I'm up to riding once more, but when I do you can be damned sure I'll be appropriately attired.
    I'm very sorry you've had this trying and painful experience. However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize. In addition to riding about 70-100 miles/week just going about my business (not that much, I know), I've toured to Vancouver BC, Victoria, BC, and northern California, all starting in Seattle, and all while riding in regular old walking shorts and other, non-biking-specific clothing. I've never had anything more than a bit of mild heat rash, even while riding 75-100 mi/day. It's entirely possible that clothing has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's your saddle. Maybe it's your bike fit. Maybe, and please don't take this as an attack, you just started adding on too many miles before some of your anatomy was quite ready for it.
    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Zedoo's Avatar
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    Or buy a recumbent.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I'm very sorry you've had this trying and painful experience. However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize. In addition to riding about 70-100 miles/week just going about my business (not that much, I know), I've toured to Vancouver BC, Victoria, BC, and northern California, all starting in Seattle, and all while riding in regular old walking shorts and other, non-biking-specific clothing. I've never had anything more than a bit of mild heat rash, even while riding 75-100 mi/day. It's entirely possible that clothing has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's your saddle. Maybe it's your bike fit. Maybe, and please don't take this as an attack, you just started adding on too many miles before some of your anatomy was quite ready for it.
    Don't worry. No offense taken.

    I doubt it's the saddle or the bike fit. I was pretty fanatical about researching both. Although, I must stay, I'm seriously contemplating a Brooks saddle.

    Your last suggestion might be correct as well. I did pile the miles on pretty quickly. 0-200 miles per week inside of a month is a pretty steep trajectory, I think. The doc did say that she has seen the same sort of thing once before. A woman came in w/ the same problem in the same place after her first MS150.

    Quote Originally Posted by Zedoo View Post
    Or buy a recumbent.
    That's a thought. Sadly, my bank account vetoed the idea.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Papa Tom's Avatar
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    I bought my first pair in 2002 during a multi-day ride that I started with just two pairs of cut-off jeans. One night, in Old Saybrook, CT, a bike store was having a close-out on mountain bike shorts and I splurged for the $30 just to avoid having to go back to the hotel to do a wash. As you can probably figure, I threw the cut-offs away the next day and have ridden in only mountain bike (baggy) shorts since then.
    Papa Tom

    "I just need a rest...and by 'rest' I mean a really long bicycle ride."

  11. #11
    Senior Member tjspiel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I'm very sorry you've had this trying and painful experience. However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize. In addition to riding about 70-100 miles/week just going about my business (not that much, I know), I've toured to Vancouver BC, Victoria, BC, and northern California, all starting in Seattle, and all while riding in regular old walking shorts and other, non-biking-specific clothing. I've never had anything more than a bit of mild heat rash, even while riding 75-100 mi/day. It's entirely possible that clothing has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's your saddle. Maybe it's your bike fit. Maybe, and please don't take this as an attack, you just started adding on too many miles before some of your anatomy was quite ready for it.
    Curious to see if the shorts alone really solve his problem. For me cycling shorts do make a difference. If you think about your average cadence and multiply that by the number of minutes you've spent in the saddle, that can add up to a whole lot of friction for your crotch to endure.

    Tri-shorts with a decent but minimal chamois seem to do the trick for me. I've used cream when I know I'm going to putting in some long miles at a hard pace. It helps too but I'd rather not deal with it if I don't need to.
    If you're not riding with a psychedelic gecko on your shirt, you ARE having a substandard experience.

  12. #12
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    I'm very sorry you've had this trying and painful experience. However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize. In addition to riding about 70-100 miles/week just going about my business (not that much, I know), I've toured to Vancouver BC, Victoria, BC, and northern California, all starting in Seattle, and all while riding in regular old walking shorts and other, non-biking-specific clothing. I've never had anything more than a bit of mild heat rash, even while riding 75-100 mi/day. It's entirely possible that clothing has nothing to do with it. Maybe it's your saddle. Maybe it's your bike fit. Maybe, and please don't take this as an attack, you just started adding on too many miles before some of your anatomy was quite ready for it.
    I had a similar response in mind. I used to wear cotton briefs while commuting, and I did several RAGBRAIs and a 175-mile ride with them on. The chafing could be from a too-high saddle, or one that's too squishy or wide.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  13. #13
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    The saddle is really important too as well as the shorts. Good article here on it. http://www.bidonpull.com

    Scroll down to "Mysteries of the Saddle" article.

  14. #14
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    Lycra is amazing.

    Sorry to hear about this. It made me smile though bc it reminded me of a few mistakes I have made along the way.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    The chafing could be from a too-high saddle, or one that's too squishy or wide.
    I spent a couple of weeks trying to get the saddle height adjusted "just right". Ride for a few days, raise the saddle a few centimeters, repeat. I have the saddle just high enough so that at 6:00 in the pedal stroke my leg is slightly bent, and low enough so that I don't experience any "rocking" of my hips while I pedal. As far as the saddle goes, it's practically an a** hatchet. I ride a Trek 7100, and I had to replace the wide, squishy stock saddle w/ a body geometry saddle just barely wider than the bones in my rear end.

    Y'all gotta remember that I ride in Houston, where 90 degree days are the norm.

  16. #16
    Senior Member PatrickGSR94's Avatar
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    When I started running last fall I picked up some lycra/Spandex boxer briefs, which work awesome to prevent chafing. Since I got back into cycling this spring I also wear them for longer rides underneath usually cargo shorts. Now granted my longest single ride has been "only" 17 miles, or 30 miles total in a single day, but I haven't had any problems with sores yet.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tjspiel View Post
    Tri-shorts with a decent but minimal chamois seem to do the trick for me.
    +1
    I just picked up a pair of PI tri shorts, and they have the best synthetic chamois I've seen.

    A big pet peeve are these idiotic mfgrs that insist on putting foam padding under the chamois. It has absolutely no benefit. Think about it. Each sit bone can have up to 50% of your body weight on it. A silly piece of foam that can be easily pinched flat between your thumb and forefinger will *always* be mashed flat under your sit bones.

    What that stupid foam *does* do is push the chamois up against your soft parts, causing chafing, *and* it holds moisture.

  18. #18
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    I spent a couple of weeks trying to get the saddle height adjusted "just right". Ride for a few days, raise the saddle a few centimeters, repeat. I have the saddle just high enough so that at 6:00 in the pedal stroke my leg is slightly bent, and low enough so that I don't experience any "rocking" of my hips while I pedal. As far as the saddle goes, it's practically an a** hatchet. I ride a Trek 7100, and I had to replace the wide, squishy stock saddle w/ a body geometry saddle just barely wider than the bones in my rear end.

    Y'all gotta remember that I ride in Houston, where 90 degree days are the norm.
    While I am totally in favor of padded cycling shorts and always wear them for anything more than riding around the neighborhood, your problem was likely caused, in part, by the saddle. You should experience zero discomfort from the saddle. The fact that you describe it as an "a** hatchet" leads me to believe you need a little more padding, particularly if riding in a more upright position. The Specialized saddles are typically designed for a racing position, which puts less weight on the saddle. You might try the WTB Rocket V or something comparable, which I find very comfortable for a more upright body position. Firm, but with a little padding.

  19. #19
    Senior Member alan s's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
    +1
    I just picked up a pair of PI tri shorts, and they have the best synthetic chamois I've seen.

    A big pet peeve are these idiotic mfgrs that insist on putting foam padding under the chamois. It has absolutely no benefit. Think about it. Each sit bone can have up to 50% of your body weight on it. A silly piece of foam that can be easily pinched flat between your thumb and forefinger will *always* be mashed flat under your sit bones.

    What that stupid foam *does* do is push the chamois up against your soft parts, causing chafing, *and* it holds moisture.
    The padding is designed primarily to hold and remove moisture from that area. Your issue with padded shorts probably stems from using lower quailty products.

  20. #20
    ouate de phoque dramiscram's Avatar
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    I got similar problems but I got the shorts AND switched saddles before I needed the doctor.
    Originally Posted by Leebo

    Headwind is like a hill without a soul. Just gear down and suffer.
    Quote Originally Posted by jrickards View Post
    Headwinds are hills dipped in evil!

  21. #21
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomCat_Ford View Post
    I'm sorry to hear about that, that doesn't sound like a fun experience! I'm sure you'll be back to riding soon enough. Just wait for your first ride with the cycling shorts--I'm sure you'll love it. I don't use any of that cream stuff, but cycling shorts really do make a world of difference.
    Meh. I ride kind of like the OP, except I usually where cargo shorts over the boxer briefs. So far, so good. I do, however, ride mostly on leather saddles, I think that makes a difference.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  22. #22
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bragi View Post
    However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize.
    That's gold right there, bragi
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  23. #23
    7-speed doomsday prepper ThermionicScott's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkippyX View Post
    Y'all gotta remember that I ride in Houston, where 90 degree days are the norm.
    Texans always think they're special. We have plenty of 90+ degree days up in Iowa, especially this year.
    Quote Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
    There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
    RUSA #7498

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
    Texans always think they're special. We have plenty of 90+ degree days up in Iowa, especially this year.
    Well, truth be told, I'm a displaced NYer living in Texas. I grew up in Western NY, just south of Lake Ontario and couldn't imagine there was anything quite so damp and hot as the climate here in Houston. You mean that there are places north of here that offer the same unpleasant conditions?

    At this point, the Queen Charlotte Islands are looking pretty darned appealing. "You mean the temperature rarely exceeds 50 degrees (F)? Where do I sign up?"

  25. #25
    a.k.a., Point Five Dude Surrealdeal's Avatar
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    Make sure that you're keeping things clean down south.

    Chafing is one thing, but infections and sores can be indicative of another problem.

    1.) Don't let your 'Skippy' moniker be in reference to your showering habits.

    2.) Baby wipes do more than just wipe away sweat, they reduce bacteria as well.

    3.) Whatever you end up going with for shorts, try to get two sets, rotate & wash them daily.
    Fat is sweat, on the wrong side of your skin.

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