How To Avoid Cycling Discomfort – 7 Things You Need To Know to Be More Comfortable While Riding Your Bike
Ouch! You planned on a 50 miler and it was all you could do to suffer through the first ten miles. Finally, you just turned around, and to alleviate the discomfort, stood on the pedals most of the way home. Your soft tissue area feels like it’s on fire!
This can be caused by a multitude of things, but these steps can go a long way to improving the situation. This is the advice we give most often here in Terry Customer Service, when customers are having problems with cycling discomfort.
Save the Chamois Butter for later:
First, let’s agree that many cyclists find chamois butter really helpful. That said, if you already use a chamois cream or “butt butter” but still have pain issues, it might actually be contributing to the problem. Chamois butter is fabulous, however, if you experience a burning sensation while riding – it could be the butter. This is because the cream can inhibit the breathability of the chamois, which can cause irritation, rubbing, a burning sensation, and a lot of discomfort. In many cases the real problem is finding the right chamois and saddle for your anatomy and riding position. Once that is taken care of the other problems take care of themselves.
Careful with your Laundry Detergent:
Do use a gentle non-perfumed, skin sensitive natural laundry detergent. With the chamois directly against your skin, you don’t want added irritation from unnecessary chemicals or dyes.
Fun fact: Team Sky added a truck to its Tour de France entourage, equipped with a separate washing machine for each rider in the squad, to handle the laundry for the riders after each day of racing. All the problems with saddle sores – which plague pro riders, as you might imagine – magically went away. That certainly says something about the team’s huge budget, but also something about the bacteria at work on our chamois padding. Wash with care!
Dry Cycling Shorts the Right Way:
Do not place your bike shorts in the dryer, as this can dry and stiffen the chamois. A poorly conditioned chamois can cause a lot of discomfort when cycling. Do turn the shorts inside out, and hang outside in the sun, whenever possible.
In winter drying shorts and chamois can be a challenge. Sunshine is best, but gentle warmth in a heated space works well also – not too close to the heater, which can be just as harmful as the dryer.
Personal Soap for Your Own Cleanliness:
As with laundry soap, choose a natural, perfume & dye free soap for cleansing your own sensitive areas.
Avoiding chemical additives can reduce the chances of irritation and avoid cycling discomfort.
Adapt to Deal with Aging:
Like it or not, as we age our skin gets dryer… everywhere. Be sure to wear comfortable shorts and ride on a saddle that is designed for the type of riding you do. Read more about choosing the best bike shorts for your needs here.
Take Care to Optimize Your Bike Fit:
Bike fit is so important to overall comfort that it gets its own articles:
- Check out this Q&A on bike fit and saddle pain.
- Of course, our own Georgena Terry is all about bike fit! This archive post on correct bike fit is still relevant today.
- This article contains terrific advice and lots of detail on bike fitting.
Take Time to find the Right Saddle:
Ensure you have the right saddle for your body type and riding position. Our saddle selection guide should help narrow the search. If you’re experiencing pain, a leather saddle (as opposed to synthetic) will conform to your body better.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other good tips to avoid cycling discomfort.
Further reading: Cycling Comfort Tips For Women.