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Saddle? Pants? Sweat? What is it

Old 09-30-21, 03:30 PM
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fixietogravel
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Saddle? Pants? Sweat? What is it

Hey everyone, I just joined this forum, and of course I must bring you my grossest, most personal problem. I recently started commuting to work 5 mi each way (8 km) on my gravel bike. I swapped my Selle Italia Diva saddle for a Brooks C17 with the cut out and I have no complaints except for a series of recurring saddle sores I keep getting on my left side but not my right. I barely notice chafing or friction while I'm in the saddle but the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I feel like this might be a sweat problem because I can't really change fully once I get to work. I don't think it's a good move to be wearing a chamois to work and hanging it out to dry in my cubicle. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions? I'd rather not buy another saddle if there's an easy fix.
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Old 09-30-21, 03:36 PM
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Non-cotton underwear.

If that doesn't work, rotate your saddle slightly (left or right, try them both).
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Old 09-30-21, 03:44 PM
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LOL, I commute and hang my chamois/bibs to dry in my cubicle, and have done that for the past 8 years, at multiple jobs. I always shower before the commute, and I always use fresh chamois/bibs, so no complaints of odors. YCMMV (your cubicle mates may vary).
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Old 09-30-21, 04:56 PM
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First you need to let the thing get completely healed. Choose from the hints above and maybe try something like Chamois Butter or Body Glide. My favorite is Gold Bond Friction Defense which is similar to Body Glide but more readily available (Walmart, etc.) Baby wipes after the ride. If you can go commando for awhile after, even better. It's most likely a heat and sweat problem, the distance isn't enough for the saddle to be an issue.
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Old 09-30-21, 05:10 PM
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I used to wear a fresh pair of shorts for the ride home.
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Old 09-30-21, 08:56 PM
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Originally Posted by fixietogravel View Post
Hey everyone, I just joined this forum, and of course I must bring you my grossest, most personal problem. I recently started commuting to work 5 mi each way (8 km) on my gravel bike. I swapped my Selle Italia Diva saddle for a Brooks C17 with the cut out and I have no complaints except for a series of recurring saddle sores I keep getting on my left side but not my right. I barely notice chafing or friction while I'm in the saddle but the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I feel like this might be a sweat problem because I can't really change fully once I get to work. I don't think it's a good move to be wearing a chamois to work and hanging it out to dry in my cubicle. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions? I'd rather not buy another saddle if there's an easy fix.
One possibility is that your saddle is a bit too high and that's why it chafes. You could try lowering it by a millimeter or two and see what happens.

If you can't shower at work, you could pack some alcohol wipes and clean the area in the bathroom once you get to work and change into some clean underwear for the day. Obviously, draping your bike shorts over a cube wall won't fly, but perhaps you could get a spare chair and hang the shorts over one of the rungs under the seat. That's what I do to air out my shorts during the day. Unless someone needed to come into my cube and pull out the spare chair (which hardly ever happened before the pandemic), no one would know they're down there.
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Last edited by ThermionicScott; 09-30-21 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 09-30-21, 09:43 PM
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While I cannot speculate as to the reason for your discomfort, I can give some tips that have helped me.
I tried using some chamois padded shorts years ago, and found that I was getting more saddle sores as a result. I believe that the cause in my case was sweat related. I sweat, a lot - super salty sweat. The padded shorts were soaking up s lot of this and holding it next to my skin at the saddle contact points. All of this salty fluid was rubbing me raw and resulting in some nasty sores.
I have since ditched padded shorts altogether and do the majority of my riding in an 8-panel unpadded short designed for recumbent riding, made by Aerotech. I also use unpadded saddles, both Brooks Pro and Cambium models. All of this helps to keep my bottom out of a sweaty pool.
I am mostly free of saddle sores, but will find one creeping up every once and a while. If this happens, I have not found that limiting my time in the saddle helps them to heal any more quickly. I will still ride every day as usual, and if I keep the area clean, it will heal up fine. I do take a change of clothes to work every day, use wet wipes to clean up and remove sweat residue before changing at work, and will rinse and dry my riding shorts before the change to ride home after.
After much experimentation early on, I found that the treatment that helped most with sores was cleaning the area with rubbing alcohol, applying hydrocortisone cream, followed by a thin layer of bag balm. Do this before bedtime, and after changing into your work clothes. Remove any balm residue with rubbing alcohol before riding.
Hope this helps out a bit.
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Old 10-01-21, 07:31 AM
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Can't change at work? Does your workplace not have handicap stalls in the restrooms with a door?

And while I dry my shorts inside out at home, at work I just hang them right-side out on a jacket hook in my cube. I occasionally get comments on my jersey, but only other cyclists mention my shorts hanging up.
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Old 10-04-21, 11:37 AM
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I always would hang my cycling clothes in my cube and never heard complaints, but some others at my work would just hang their clothes on their locked up bikes outside.
I agree with others that your issue is likely more of a moisture issue, finding a restroom stall to wipe down and change your shorts is probably going to help.

Also, in the event you get a good rash/chaffe, Desitin (diaper rash ointment) is amazing stuff!
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Old 10-16-21, 11:18 AM
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Originally Posted by ThermionicScott View Post
One possibility is that your saddle is a bit too high and that's why it chafes. You could try lowering it by a millimeter or two and see what happens.

I agree. Saddlesores are usually caused by a seat that is too high. Not always but usually. Given the fact the OP is getting them on one side, it further confirms that idea.
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Old 10-16-21, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by phughes View Post
I agree. Saddlesores are usually caused by a seat that is too high. Not always but usually. Given the fact the OP is getting them on one side, it further confirms that idea.
Since you remind me that it was one side specifically -- OP could also try adjusting the saddle straightness. Counterintuitively, pointing the nose of the saddle toward the side that chafes could reduce the contact between the inner thigh and the saddle.

Here again, try very small changes at a time. (Maybe the saddle wasn't straight to begin with, and that was the source of the problem all along.)
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Originally Posted by chandltp View Post
There's no such thing as too far.. just lack of time
Originally Posted by noglider
People in this forum are not typical.
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Old 10-16-21, 10:15 PM
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If you get real deep purple looking saddle sores resembling cystic acne you need a prescription. I have seen chronic saddle sores from hell in my practice and they can be a booger to get rid of. Often I have had to prescribe long term low dose antibiotics or in some cases anti-fungal medications. In some cases saddle sores may not have anything to do with hygiene but it would not hurt to have a clean set of gear on each leg of your commute and maybe some butt butter...
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Old 10-19-21, 12:39 AM
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Like someone said you gotta let it heal first.

Exofgicio underwear worked really well for me for outdoors stuff, eventually I just made it the default for everything. It's not cheap, but it lasts forever, and is really comfortable in every way including not getting sweaty:
https://www.amazon.com/dp/B001M0MN0M

Last edited by PaulRivers; 10-23-21 at 02:22 AM.
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Old 10-19-21, 01:42 AM
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Brief-lined running shorts for max breathability.
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Old 11-01-21, 10:16 PM
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Originally Posted by fixietogravel View Post
Hey everyone, I just joined this forum, and of course I must bring you my grossest, most personal problem. I recently started commuting to work 5 mi each way (8 km) on my gravel bike. I swapped my Selle Italia Diva saddle for a Brooks C17 with the cut out and I have no complaints except for a series of recurring saddle sores I keep getting on my left side but not my right. I barely notice chafing or friction while I'm in the saddle but the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I feel like this might be a sweat problem because I can't really change fully once I get to work. I don't think it's a good move to be wearing a chamois to work and hanging it out to dry in my cubicle. Wondering if anyone has any suggestions? I'd rather not buy another saddle if there's an easy fix.

Been cycle commuting since 1987 in Chicago. Once I had my rig together by trial and error I came to a realization. Never commute in your work clothes or work in your commuting clothes. There are tons of axioms and hacks about gear, maintenance, etc. I've learned over the years, but basing my commuting approach on the statement re clothing was the break through. Also, Gold Bond powder is your friend. 👌

Last edited by GhenghisKahn; 11-14-21 at 07:25 PM. Reason: Misspelling
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Old 11-10-21, 02:16 PM
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can you at least just change your underwear at work? meaning maybe cycling shorts under your work pants, then at work swap in regular underwear, then for the ride home a fresh pair of cycling shorts. mine dry over night, so I can wash & use them every day. I know they can be expensive tho. I like Zoot brand tri-shorts. they provide some "moisture management" with a thin liner. when I've had "saddles sores" I've found soaking in hot baths to be helpful
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Old 11-16-21, 01:30 AM
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I second the comments above regarding your saddle likely being too high. Sores on one side just might indicate you have a slight tilt in your pelvis, or one leg is slightly shorter that the other. Either way, lowering the saddle is the best way out. Can use chamois butt'r or other product to help.

Regarding clothing:
  1. bike to work wearing chamois shorts and and quick-dry shirt
  2. change to work clothes in bathroom stall
  3. thoroughly rinse shorts and shirt over sink, squeezing out all water as much as you can (want to take out as much sweat as possible, before it dries)
  4. hang to dry in cube, on a plastic hanger: place shorts inside shirt for less visual attention
  5. keep a small usb-powered fan at work, and place it under the shirt opening, pointing up, and making sure all air runs up the clothing and out the neckline (basically drape the waist opening completely around the fan)
  6. clothes will be dry by day's end, guaranteed
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