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Thread: Saddle Sore

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    Saddle Sore

    Hi all, my first post.

    I've gotten back into cycling atfer a few years off, and have this crazy idea of riding a century later this fall (late September, early October - somewhere in there). I've started working my milage up, and yesterday rode 25 miles - the longest so far this season.

    I've been experimenting all season with underwear, trying to find something comfortable for the long haul. I've tried regular cotton briefs (left me saddle sore yesterday). I tried nothing - uncomfortable for out of the saddle climbing, but otherwise okay. I tried a jock strap - it left me sore right in the middle. Ditto for specialized athletic underwear (supports like a strap, fits like a brief, so say the marketing copy).

    So, any ideas?

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    Bike shorts without underwear.

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    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdom View Post
    bike shorts without underwear.
    +1.
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
    - Mandi M.

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    VoodooChile zoste's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdom View Post
    Bike shorts without underwear.
    Yep...that's what they're made for.
    Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand

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    Senior Member johnknappcc's Avatar
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    You should definitely try bike shorts, I don't personally use them, but if you are having sores/comfort issues that is the first thing I would try.

    Otherwise, sounds like your saddle position/fit could be an issue.

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    I suppose I should mention that I did have bike shorts, the kind with the chamois inside, on over said underwear...

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    The problem with underwear is bunching and seams. If the fabric bunches, it causes pressure points that will press, chafe, and ache as you ride. If you perspire, they can burn. Same thing if the fabric has lumpy seams (common on y-fronts in my experience). Low-quality bike shorts can have the same problem if the chamois is a composite and has seams (example: old 1986 Performance Century Shorts) or has lumpy seams in the outer short. You want the bike short tight to provide some of the same type of support you expect from a jockstrap, but really some of that is provided by the front part of the bike saddle. But when you sit on a road bike saddle, you want nothing sensitive to be wandering about and getting caught.

    Here we're mainly talking about the tight, Lycra shorts, not teh baggy, cargo-like shorts often suggested for mountain biking. They really do serve the purposes of conventional underwear, without introducing the issues that can make a road ride and the four days that follow it total hell.

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    I'm starting to think that the problem is really, then, my shorts. They're fairly inexpensive ($20) cycling shorts from a national chain sporting goods store. When I got them I immediately noticed that the chamois was fairly stiff, and assumed it would soften up with time. Well, I've been riding these shorts since May, and it's still stiff enough to cause discomfort when standing and pedalling (a little too much side to side action, if you get my meaning).

    I think I'll investigate a new pair of shorts, and let everyone know how it turns out!

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    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Shorts and chamois should behave like a second skin, as flexible as your real skin is. So I agree, those shorts are not good. But, I predict that at some distance you will run up against these other issues due to underwear.

    Get better shorts, such as the Performance Ultra, now on sale for around $60, work up your distance, and see what your next limiting factor is.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    Bike shorts without underwear. No question about it. Chamois or gel. You can also use a small dab of "Body Glide" right wear your legs meet your torso - you know between your legs. However you may still get a saddle sore which is only an inflamed hair follicle. For those take warm baths after the big rides - good for leg muscles too, and a little Clearsil helps too.

    25 miles! Good for you! Get your 50 in soon, September is right around the corner!
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raweber View Post
    I'm starting to think that the problem is really, then, my shorts. They're fairly inexpensive ($20) cycling shorts from a national chain sporting goods store. When I got them I immediately noticed that the chamois was fairly stiff, and assumed it would soften up with time. Well, I've been riding these shorts since May, and it's still stiff enough to cause discomfort when standing and pedalling (a little too much side to side action, if you get my meaning).

    I think I'll investigate a new pair of shorts, and let everyone know how it turns out!
    You don't necessarily need a new pair of shorts yet ... first, you need to stop wearing underwear under the shorts. Go on another 25 mile ride without the underwear and see how you feel.

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    First of all, thanks everyone for the comments and support. I really appreciate it.

    In my original post I mentioned that shorts sans underwear was one of the options I had tried. The problem is that the chamois did uncomfortable things to my nether regions when I was standing (and pedaling) in the saddle.

    Now, I had spent several weeks trying various combinations of undergarments, to no avail. I've taken two 16 mile rides since this thread started, both in the suggested commando mode. There is a definite improvement over wearing underwear in terms of comfort and rubbing. However, the aformentioned manhandling of my manhood is unacceptable.

    I have some money coming in this weekend and I'm going to hit my LBS to get a real pair of shorts.

    Thanks, everyone, for all the help.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    I went the less expensive route and bought "gel" padded bike shorts instead of chamois. I've been very happy with them. also there are MTB shorts and road shorts. I use the road shorts because the padding is cut for road riding with a road saddle. I also switched to a road saddle instead of a comfort or WTB saddle
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    raweber - The shorts that you have which have this relatively non-pliable chamois... Is this a synthetic "chamois" (which is just a closed cell foam padding inside of a seamless fabric bond-formed shell, or is it a genuine, for-real-deal, old-school leather chamois?

    If it's the former, then it may just be too bulky a design for you and you can benefit from getting a pair of shorts with a more minimalist padding design.
    If it's the latter, then you need to use a chamois creme to keep it supple, or else you may as well just slap a dried up old golf glove in there! (do any companies still make genuine chamois lined shorts?)
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    Stopped by the LBS Saturday and picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi's. Went for a 20 mile ride Sunday. Also got some Chamois Butt'r - that's expensive stuff.

    Anyway, I cut the ride a bit short because now the seam on the IP chamois is bugging me - and this time it falls right where my bone meets the saddle surface. I was rubbed raw by the time I got home.

    Need to keep experimenting.

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    Maybe the problem isn't your shorts.Does your saddle fit? or maybe the bike doesn't fit,there might be more things wrong than just the shorts.

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    Quote Originally Posted by raweber View Post
    Stopped by the LBS Saturday and picked up a pair of Pearl Izumi's. Went for a 20 mile ride Sunday. Also got some Chamois Butt'r - that's expensive stuff.

    Anyway, I cut the ride a bit short because now the seam on the IP chamois is bugging me - and this time it falls right where my bone meets the saddle surface. I was rubbed raw by the time I got home.

    Need to keep experimenting.
    What seam? I own several pairs of PI shorts, and there aren't any seams on the padding.

    As for a less expensive alternative to Chamois Butt'r, go to the pharmacy (or Farm & Fleet) and pick up a tub of Udderly Smooth. I like the hand creme version better than their chamois creme because it's a heavier consistency and less likely to just sweat off. It's similar in consistency to Assos, but doesn't cost $21/tub. (Although, the Assos creme is totally worth it for long rides, IMO)
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdom View Post
    Maybe the problem isn't your shorts.Does your saddle fit? or maybe the bike doesn't fit,there might be more things wrong than just the shorts.
    Worth thinking about, but I've riden this bike/saddle combination for 5 years and this is the first season I've had a problem with it. I just wore out a pair of Cannondale shorts that I absolutely loved (wore them for two seasons with baggies over to hide the gaping holes). LBS only carries iP, now. In fact, here's the one I bought: http://www.pearlizumi.com/product.ph...uct_id=1215604

    But, yeah, they do have a seam running around the perimeter of the chamois. I"m thinking of going back to the store and letting them know about what's happening. I have a big red mark on my rump right now from that seam yesterday. My wife said "what the heck happened to you?" when she saw me getting into the shower this morning.

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    Senior Member rumrunn6's Avatar
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    oh man bad luck. I've been happy with my cheal gel shorts $29.99 from Dick's Sporting Goods. They have a "Q" printed on the leg. the brand is "Quest". I only use "Body Glide" in the crease between my nuts and my leg, but not on my nuts. if I ever get saddle sores I get them on my butt where I make contact with the saddle. put in 55 miles yesterday and had a nice bath when I got home.
    cycling is like baseball ~ it doesn't take much to make it interesting

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    I've used pearl izumi without any problems before,don't remember wich ones though.I did notice that the ones you got had a six panel construction,maybe you should get a pair of shorts with an eight panel construction.But I don't see where that would make such a great improvement if you are having such bad luck right now.

    The only other thing I can think of is that in your original post you said that you are just getting back into cyling after a few years off.Maybe you are doing to much too soon,even then you should be able to do a 20 mile ride without that much problem if everything fits.

    The best I can say is go back to the shop and try to workout the problem with them if you can.

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    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raweber View Post
    But, yeah, they do have a seam running around the perimeter of the chamois. I"m thinking of going back to the store and letting them know about what's happening. I have a big red mark on my rump right now from that seam yesterday. My wife said "what the heck happened to you?" when she saw me getting into the shower this morning.
    Which PI shorts, and which padding is in them? I have both the Gavia Plus tights and Ultrasensor Slice shorts with the 3D PRO padding, and the seam which binds the padding to the short is a twin single thread row running the outer 1/4" perimeter of the padding. I can't imagine that being a point of irritation for your sit bones. (That would require some incredibly wide bone structure which, at 6'6" tall, I don't even come close to having an issue with.)
    "I feel like my world was classier before I found cyclocross."
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    If you are going to be in the market for a saddle, try out a Brooks. They are not for everyone, but no saddle is. Break one of those in properly and bike shorts will be optional.
    And if you're looking for stuff to put in your nether regions try Bag Balm.

  23. #23
    Senior Member donrhummy's Avatar
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    Have you tried bag balm on the inside padding of your shorts or directly on your butt? It makes a HUGE difference.

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    I'm riding again today for the first time since last Sunday. If I have similar rubbing problems with the seam of the chamois, I'll definitely look into some Bag Balm. Haven't bought any of that stuff since the youngest was out of diapers a couple of years back...

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