Okay, ladies. We’ve all been there… out enjoying a perfectly awesome ride, far away from the comforts of civilization. When things down there start to feel distinctly not-so-awesome. Your tender parts begin to feeling more like tenderized parts as you count down the miles to home.
But, the good news is, with a little planning and the right set-up, you, your sensitive bits, and your bike can all comfortably co-exist for many, many happy miles.
Find “The One”
Your saddle is a major connection point between you and your bike. On long, seated climbs, this small surface will support the majority of your weight. It may be tempting to hop onto the seat that came with your bike and ride off into the sunset, but it might not be your best match. The wrong saddle or saddle position can cause pain and discomfort not just in the contact zone but also through your back, hamstrings and knees.
Some bike shops offer loaner saddles that you can take for a test ride, or have a tool that can measure the width of your sit bones to help you find the right size (ideally they’ll have both). A good fitting saddle will align with your bone structure where your weight rests, not your hips or bum size. Saddles also come in a variety of different styles with cutouts and indentations that are designed to take pressure off your lady parts, so take time to find one that feels right with your anatomy.
Once you’ve found a saddle that seems like a good fit, take a few rides to sort out the most comfortable riding position. Saddles can adjusted forward or back, and tilted up and down, so try some micro-adjustments to find what feels best. If you’re having a hard time getting comfortable, an appointment with an experienced bike fitter can do wonders. They’ll look at your overall riding position and set your bike up so you’re in your best anatomical alignment.
This is one piece of knowledge that I got from my mother, a formidable road cyclist, that has never let me down. Never, ever, wear underpants on the bike. Your chamois is the only undergarment you need, and it is specifically designed to be worn right next to your skin. Throwing a pair of panties into the mix can lead to chafing, bunching, and sweat accumulation that can irritate your skin and trap bacteria. Which can be a ride-ender, or, even worse, cause sores or infection.
All chamois are not created equal. Both of the chamois we made wick moisture and have a wide, flat waistband that won’t dig-in. But, our LACECHAM is designed with a lower profile pad best suited for shorter rides. While our YOGACHAM has a more cushioned pad that will go the distance with you when you’re on an all-day epic. Be sure to choose an appropriate chamois for your ride.
Lubricate the Moving Parts
Speaking of the chamois… that brings us to the less-discussed topic of chamois creme. These are specially designed products that help reduce friction and bacteria. You can apply chamois cream directly to your skin, or onto the pad of your shorts before a ride. You might not need this product for a short spin around your local trails, but if you’re heading out for a hot, long ride or multi-day adventure they can help protect sensitive skin and keep you happy day after day.
After you’ve finished your ride, before you get into recounting each turn of epic flowy awesomeness, take a few moments to duck behind a tree, or wrap a towel around you waist and strip off your chamois. Don’t worry, you can put your stylie MTB SHORT right back on, just get the tight fitting, potentially clammy, underlayer off to get some air circulation down under. Hanging out in a sweaty chamois can encourage bacteria (think wet swimsuit) and cause skin irritation even after you’re off the bike.
If you can, rinse or wash your Chamois after every ride and let them dry completely before wearing them again. They might not be covered in mud, but when sweat dries it leaves behind salt, an abrasive that will not do your skin any favors. If you need to double dip on your chamois while on trip, let them dry as much as possible and refer to the aforementioned advice on chamois cream.
Yes, it’s spring, and yes we are counting the days until our favorite trails are dry, but take a few early mellow rides to let your body ease into the season. If you’re completely new to riding (yay, welcome to the tribe!) don’t go overboard on your first few outings either. If things start to feel uncomfortable, you want to be able end your ride quickly and sort out the problem. Your sit bones may be a little more sore than you expect after your first ride, so go easy on your body. The season is long, and there will be plenty of miles to come.