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  1. #1
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    Lessons learned from my latest century along with some questions

    Okay, so I rode my second century this year, yesterday. That makes two within just the last three weeks. I'm kinda liking this long distance cycling thing. Anyway, this is my third century. The last one was September of last year. Anyway, I learned some things about packing and what should and shouldn't go along with me, bag choices, etc. What changed this time around versus my last century back at the very end of June, was I experienced some discomfort during this ride that I didn't have in June or back in September. Nothing has changed about the bike in terms of set up or riding position. Actually the only thing that has changed was that I've lost 30 pounds over the last three months. I don't know if this factors in at all. What specifically bothered me was:

    1. Friction in the shorts, specifically some chaffing on the sit bones area and the inside leg crease on my right hand side, right next to my, well you know what. I applied Beljum Butter directly to the skin in these high friction areas beforehand and even at a few of the later rest stops but it didn't seem to help much once the initial chaffing had occurred. One guy had suggested it was better to apply the cream directly to the chamois. My clothing setup is Aerotech Designs lycra shorts with a I believe a 10mm pad worn under Endura Humvee 3/4 shorts. If you're having to apply cream directly to the chamois, it seems like it could get expensive really fast, assuming you're doing a lot of long distance riding.

    2. At some point, probably over 50 miles in, I started to feel like my toes on both feet might be developing blisters on the underside of the toes where they contact the foot bed of the shoes. My shoes and pedals are exactly the same as they've been for the last 7000+ miles. The only difference is I had purchased some new multi-sport socks from REI that are really comfortable but are made from some generic wicking fabric. I can add at this time that when I got home and was getting into the shower, I could find no evidence that I developed any blisters at all. so that was sort of weird. I think I'm going to invest in some simple Merino wool socks to wear instead of the various Coolmax type socks I have been wearing. I wear a Merino wool jersey all the time and in the winter I wear Merino wool tops, so I'm sold on that as an excellent fabric.

    Anyway, I'm recovering from my chaffing with some application of Bag Balm to the affected areas and it seems to be doing the trick. I'd like to get some insight maybe from those with more experience as to the best ways to combat this so it doesn't reoccur. Finally I just realized I should note my saddle is a well-broken-in Brooks B17, although for some reason even with a every-six-months application of Proofhide, the upper surface of the saddle has lost it's glossy sheen and it seems to be a more "grabby" surface, especially on longer rides when my sweat has thoroughly permeated my shorts to the point where it's soaking through both layers of fabric. I think the inability to slid around on the saddle as much might be a major factor in this friction/chaffing issue. I sent an email to Brooks asking about how to regain the slippery surface of the saddle but never received any reply.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  2. #2
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    chaffing can occur because your shorts are too big. So losing weight could definitely be a factor. In addition, I have a lot of problems when it is hot, mostly because the sweat overcomes the absorbancy of the chamois and then promotes relative motion between the shorts and the moving parts. In high heat, I have started packing an extra pair of shorts.

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    I think the chaffing is more the result of overheating and the shorts simply sticking in place and binding. Some of I think might be exacerbated by the saddle no longer having a slick finish thus promoting sort of sticking in one spot where I think the combo of baggies over lycra may cause some minor binding at least as far as the crease of the groin chaffing goes. The shorts are a size large and are still a good fit, so I don't think it's an issue of them suddenly being too large. It seems to mostly be a sweat induced friction issue.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    Uber Goober StephenH's Avatar
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    You're wearing two pairs of shorts, one over the other? If so, try one pair, see if that helps. On the foot issue, the footbeds in bike shoes are replaceable and get squished down after a while, check if that's the issue.
    "be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."

  5. #5
    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    In warm weather, you want maximum evaporation = minimal layers. Two pairs of shorts doesn't make any sense in warm weather or any weather, really. Bicycle wear is made from wicking fabric to draw the sweat away from the skin and evaporate it, but with a second pair of shorts the fabric of the inner layer will not be exposed to the wind to evaporate much of anything.

    In colder weather, I'd use either long tights or one pair of shorts with leg warmers, or tights with a base layer for winter. But two pairs of shorts, never!

    I did a 225 km ride two weeks ago where it was so hot, I climbed from sea level to 1,900 m (5,700 ft) of altitude before the temperature dropped below 30 C (86 F) and still I had no problems with chafing and I have never even tried chamois cream.

  6. #6
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Actually the only thing that has changed was that I've lost 30 pounds over the last three months. I don't know if this factors in at all. What specifically bothered me was:

    1. Friction in the shorts, specifically some chaffing on the sit bones area and the inside leg crease on my right hand side, right next to my, well you know what. I applied Beljum Butter directly to the skin in these high friction areas beforehand and even at a few of the later rest stops but it didn't seem to help much once the initial chaffing had occurred. One guy had suggested it was better to apply the cream directly to the chamois. My clothing setup is Aerotech Designs lycra shorts with a I believe a 10mm pad worn under Endura Humvee 3/4 shorts. If you're having to apply cream directly to the chamois, it seems like it could get expensive really fast, assuming you're doing a lot of long distance riding.
    You lost quite a bit of weight ... and your shorts are looser than they used to be. Buy new, tighter shorts. And check to make sure the padding fits you properly and doesn't rub you in the wrong places. What works for one might not work for another. Try on several pair of shorts to ensure you get a good pair.

    Regarding chamois cream ... I don't use the stuff.



    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    2. At some point, probably over 50 miles in, I started to feel like my toes on both feet might be developing blisters on the underside of the toes where they contact the foot bed of the shoes. My shoes and pedals are exactly the same as they've been for the last 7000+ miles. The only difference is I had purchased some new multi-sport socks from REI that are really comfortable but are made from some generic wicking fabric. I can add at this time that when I got home and was getting into the shower, I could find no evidence that I developed any blisters at all. so that was sort of weird. I think I'm going to invest in some simple Merino wool socks to wear instead of the various Coolmax type socks I have been wearing. I wear a Merino wool jersey all the time and in the winter I wear Merino wool tops, so I'm sold on that as an excellent fabric.
    Choose wool socks.


    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Finally I just realized I should note my saddle is a well-broken-in Brooks B17, although for some reason even with a every-six-months application of Proofhide, the upper surface of the saddle has lost it's glossy sheen and it seems to be a more "grabby" surface, especially on longer rides when my sweat has thoroughly permeated my shorts to the point where it's soaking through both layers of fabric. I think the inability to slid around on the saddle as much might be a major factor in this friction/chaffing issue. I sent an email to Brooks asking about how to regain the slippery surface of the saddle but never received any reply.
    Your Brooks is supposed to age like that. It's normal. It's not supposed to remain smooth and slippery for more than the first few weeks. I'm not surprised Brooks didn't give you a reply!!

    If you feel like you are sweating through your shorts, apply roll-on anti-perspirant to the area where you are sweating.


    Both layers of fabric??? Are you wearing two pair of shorts? Ah, I see you say you're wearing a pair of padded shorts with baggy shorts overtop. Lose the baggy shorts. They can be worn in cooler temps, but not in hot weather.

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    I did some more research last night and one of the things that turned up was on the Rivendell website, they recommend the Aardvark saddle cover, not only for keeping rain off one's saddle but also as a means of protecting the saddle from excessive butt-sweat during long rides. I may give this a try as I've seen the Aardvark covers and they can give a bit of that slick-like finish back. I think mostly the issue is sweat just causing the surface of the saddle to get damp and preventing any easy movement. Fabric gets stuck in place or bunches due to being grabbed and held by the surface of the saddle. I like wearing the baggies over padded shorts primarily because of utility of having pockets. I also turned up a reference to Andiamo padded cycling briefs. I think I'll give some of those a try and see if a more minimal pad would help too. The Aerotech shorts that I wear have a rather thick pad that honestly, feels like sitting on a stack of pancakes. I like the lower profile chamois pads that used to come in shorts, versus these newer bizarro 3D things with channels and grooves and stuff all over them, and many are so bulky feeling that it's like wearing a diaper as some folks have mentioned.
    My blog: http://aconservationist.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    Randomhead
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    btw, the too-large shorts issue with chaffing is well known, it came up recently on the randonneuring email list.

  9. #9
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    kiltedcelt - I think you should really listen to some of these posts. Reading through this thread, there have been a lot of good and logical suggestions. These are people who have a lot of experience riding brevets. I feel like you have just been defending your gear choices and have your own theory on why your chafing.

  10. #10
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    Fabric gets stuck in place or bunches due to being grabbed and held by the surface of the saddle. I like wearing the baggies over padded shorts primarily because of utility of having pockets. I also turned up a reference to Andiamo padded cycling briefs. I think I'll give some of those a try and see if a more minimal pad would help too. The Aerotech shorts that I wear have a rather thick pad that honestly, feels like sitting on a stack of pancakes. I like the lower profile chamois pads that used to come in shorts, versus these newer bizarro 3D things with channels and grooves and stuff all over them, and many are so bulky feeling that it's like wearing a diaper as some folks have mentioned.
    Your fabric is bunching because it is too loose. When you get shorts that fit, there is no bunching.

    And if you want pockets, use a jersey.

    I have ridden with baggy shorts over my form-fitting shorts, and I find that quite uncomfortable for longer distances ... more sweating, more chafing ...

  11. #11
    Senior Member joewein's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    And if you want pockets, use a jersey.
    +1

    Stuff that sits in your jersey back pockets doesn't move about as your legs move when you pedal. Cycling jerseys have pockets at the back for a reason, same for cycling shorts not having pockets. This is the arrangement that works best.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kiltedcelt View Post
    I did some more research last night and one of the things that turned up was on the Rivendell website, they recommend the Aardvark saddle cover, not only for keeping rain off one's saddle but also as a means of protecting the saddle from excessive butt-sweat during long rides. I may give this a try as I've seen the Aardvark covers and they can give a bit of that slick-like finish back. I think mostly the issue is sweat just causing the surface of the saddle to get damp and preventing any easy movement. Fabric gets stuck in place or bunches due to being grabbed and held by the surface of the saddle. I like wearing the baggies over padded shorts primarily because of utility of having pockets. I also turned up a reference to Andiamo padded cycling briefs. I think I'll give some of those a try and see if a more minimal pad would help too. The Aerotech shorts that I wear have a rather thick pad that honestly, feels like sitting on a stack of pancakes. I like the lower profile chamois pads that used to come in shorts, versus these newer bizarro 3D things with channels and grooves and stuff all over them, and many are so bulky feeling that it's like wearing a diaper as some folks have mentioned.
    A couple of points here. Forget the saddle cover. The Brooks is NOT the problem with what you perceive to be a rough surface.

    Your shorts definitely seems to be a significant problem. Different brands of shorts are made with different chamois inserts. Different different sizes, different shapes, different fabrics, different mouldings. You likely will have to experiment with to find the shorts than suit for your geometry, but when you do find the rights ones, buy three, four or five pairs.

    Get rid of the overshorts for LD riding. I like to wear overshorts for similar reasons to you. I actually find the pockets handy for various things. But I only wear them for touring, commuting or shortish fun rides. When it's LD, it's proper bike shorts only. I need the breathability to get ride of the moisture that gathers in the crotch.

    Which leads me back to the Brooks. It's leather. It absorbs moisture created by crotch and butt sweat. There are two functions to this -- it helps reduce the moisture in the chamois so you are less likely to get chafe issues, and the moisture helps the saddle continue to form to your butt bones. Putting any sort of cover on it compromises both those functions.

    As suggested, if you want pockets, get a jersey. Or a handlebar bag, or a top-tube tri bag.

    Also as suggested, if excessive sweating is an issue, use an anti-perspirant. I've used this method and it really is OK. Your private parts aren't going to shrivel up and die. Stand up on the pedals, and let the butt and crotch breathe a little at intervals on your rides. Uses sunscreen to help reduce your body temperatures (yep, I know it sounds odd, but from my experience, it helps). And lower your intensity if you think you are sweating excessively.

    ------------------

    As to your "foot blisters", you are suffering from a mild case of hotfoot or Morton's neuroma, I think. I don't recall seeing the shoes you are wearing, but you might consider going to an LBS that is a Specialized dealer, and seeing if they have the Specialized insole with the moulded metatarsal button. The button is placed strategically under the metatarsal bones which can compress together and pinch off the nerves to the toes, resulting in numbness, a feeling of blistering or a sensation of hotfoot across the ball of the foot.

    You also don't mention if you are using clipless pedals, but if you are, and you haven't done this already... move the cleats as far back in the slots as you can.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  13. #13
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    I think folks have addressed your chafing problem adequately, the one thing I would add about that is if you don't like the thick padding of the aerotech shorts you have, you can always buy other types of shorts with less or more or no padding at all. Regarding your foot, it sounds like you are getting a hot spot, that is from pressure of your foot pressing against the peddle, it could be your inserts are getting worn out, the new sock caused more compression, your leg position has changed slightly due to weightloss (or shifted because of the chafing) or other factors. You might want to think about getting a fitting.

  14. #14
    squatchy
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    It always amazes me when someone wants some help and then refuses to listen to the good advice. Ditch the crappy shorts, get some that fit loose the baggy's over the top and get shorts with less chamois. Simple as that!!!

  15. #15
    Senior Member blacknbluebikes's Avatar
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    I had the toe problem, tended to kick in right about 38 miles in warm weather. Scanning the forums clearly indicated I needed bigger shoes, though I *thought* the old ones fit fine. Bought some, fixed it.
    Never suspected just how much my feet actually swell after a couple of hours. When I first put them on, they feel too roomy - not sloppy, but just a little too roomy. They feel fine, however, at longer mileages. Also of note, I find the "supernatural fit kit" in the Giro shoes to be great, because installing a higher arch also improved my "four hour comfort factor."

  16. #16
    Senior Member antimonysarah's Avatar
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    If you're wearing Aerotech because of issues finding the size you want (they go larger than a lot of manufacturers -- that's why I shop there, though in the womens' side), you may want to look at their triathlon shorts. Triathlon shorts have very thin/minimal pads because that padding holds water after the swim, and the thinner it is, the faster it dries out.

    While everyone else is going to tell you to lose the overshorts, if the real reason is that you're not comfortable in spandex in public, you're not, and that's OK. Pick something with as little fabric through the crotch as possible and quick-drying. (Or you could always go with fitting your username and put a utilikilt over. Which would also have pockets.)

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