Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Be Kind to Your Behind

Two Examples of  Cycling Shorts
When I first started riding again I wore standard cotton briefs and cotton shorts, or in other words, street clothes. During and after my first ride, a short three to four mile jaunt on a local lane, I felt fine. My second ride was a nineteen mile excursion on a local paved rail trail. Not used to riding, I came home with a sore butt (sit bone) and chaffed inner thighs. Eleven days later hit the trail again but rode eleven miles. While my butt (sit bone) was not as sore and my inner thighs were not as chaffed as they were following the nineteen mile ride, were still sore.

Same Cycling Shorts as above Showing the Chamois
Before my next ride I bought a pair of cycling shorts. I once thought that cyclers who wore biking shorts were simply making a fashion statement and giving into advertising hype. I now know otherwise. Cycling shorts with a chamois can and do make a big difference when riding longer distances.

My first pair of bike shorts, made by Navarra, which I purchased at REI, look more like street clothes even though they have an attached chamois pad for comfort. They also have pockets, belt loops, and a zipper. After riding in them a couple times I was hooked. After two rides of over twenty miles and a ride of over forty miles I came home without the sore sit bone and no inner thigh chaffing. Some of the difference compared to earlier and shorter rides might be attributed to me being in better shape but I also think the bike shorts with attached chamois made a big difference.

I eventually purchased more traditional tight fitting spandex biker shorts with chamois, also by Novarra which I picked up on sale at REI. I usually wear them when I am going out to do nothing but ride. I wear the biker shorts that look more like street clothes when I am going out to ride but also engage in other activities before returning home. Regardless of which pair I wear, I wash them after every ride.

Another way I learned to cut down on saddle soreness was to get up off my saddle about every mile starting with the first mile. Rather than waiting to feel any discomfort or soreness before getting off the saddle I adopted the proactive approach. About every mile, if I am on a level or slightly downhill ride, I will shift into a lower gear and stand up on my pedals, straighten my legs, and flex my leg and butt muscles. With good initial speed or on a slightly downhill or level run I can stand up on my pedals and coast for up to two or even three tenths of a mile. On a level or slightly inclined run I can coast for up to a twentieth of a mile. If I am climbing a hill too steep to coast I will peddle sanding up for a while to get off my sit bone. I have found that starting this practice with the first mile delays the onset of tiredness and helps me ride longer and farther when I do become tired.

Here are links to previous posts in the series:
Spinning Wheels (Lessons from Two Years of Cycling): Starting Over (First Installment)

1 comment:

nese said...

Good advice, thanks!