Enjoying a century ride from start to finish is a great story to put into the books. But having a painful problem in the bum during a long-distance tour is a different story. One common problem that cyclists face during a long ride is chafing.
What is chafing? What can I do to prevent it from happening to me?
Chafing happens when your inner thighs or butt is rubbed raw against the saddle. The friction eventually develops into a painful saddle sore. This problem needs proper treatment and proper knowledge on how to avoid it in the future will save you a lot of hassle.
In this article, we will discuss cleanliness, which proper ointments to apply, and what kind of saddle you should use to avoid chafing. Read on!
Tip Number 1: Observe Cleanliness First
There is no other alternative to avoiding chafing than with cleanliness. Chafing is sometimes caused by bacterial growth in the thigh or butt area. Cleaning down those areas before and after each ride will surely help you avoid chafing. Also, wear clean bike shorts during each ride and remove them when you’re done. The accumulated sweat can trigger bacterial growth in the groin and thigh area, which can cause chafing.
Professional cyclists recommend using a chamois cream. Applying a generous amount of chamois cream in the affected area helps reduce friction, thus reducing the chances of chafing. Choose the best chamois cream that best suits your skin type.
The following are excellent chamois cream that I recommend for every type of riders:
- For New Riders – Thick and creamy texture with a mild formulation are best for starters. The thick texture protects the inner thigh from friction.
- For Women – A natural, silky smooth texture cream with no menthol or tea tree oil is recommended for women cyclists. This kind of chamois cream promotes comfort and helps prevent delicate skin tears, which causes bacteria to enter and cause painful saddle sores and infection.
- For Men – Choose a chamois cream with an anti-inflammatory property that would prevent possible swelling after every ride. Also, look for a paraben-free anti-fungal and antibacterial chamois cream to minimize your risks of having an infection.
- For Touring Cyclists – A chamois cream that has natural extracts to protect skin from irritation due to friction and the build-up of bacteria. A cream that cools the skin is best for long-distance rides.
Tip Number 2: Treat Chafing Immediately
Treating the chafed areas right away can relieve you from severe saddle sores. Gently clean the affected area and then apply ointment or diaper rash cream. This first-aid approach would help the skin heal and soothe the sore.
Moreover, find the root cause of your chafing by checking if your saddle nose rubs against your thighs, evaluate your position during each ride, etc. Do not be afraid to make necessary changes on your bikes (e.g. changing your saddle or adjusting your riding position).
Tip Number 3: Choose the Right Bike Shorts
Choose bike shorts that best fits your size. Invest in the best quality shorts that are breathable and do not give any discomfort if you spend a lot of time riding outdoors. Traditional bike shorts and bib bike shorts (one with straps that go over your shoulders, removing the need for a waistband) are two types of bike shorts that you can choose from.
Tip Number 4: Check for Saddle Issues
Saddles are cyclists’ best friend on the road. Just be careful you don’t choose the wrong one. Our choice of saddles significantly contributes to being chafed. We always look into a heavily-padded saddle as the perfect one, but in reality, this kind of saddle causes chafing easily. The padding on this kind of saddle puts pressure on the sensitive areas, in addition to your weight. I suggest light-padded saddles for these reduces pressure on the butt and thigh area, and are perfect for longer rides.
Correcting the saddle position of your bike seat can save you from chafing too. To achieve the perfect placement of your saddle, level it, and center the rails in the seat post clamp. Your seat post must be positioned to be slightly bent on your knees when the pedal stroke is at the bottom.
At 3 and 9 o’clock position, stop your crank and have someone hold a plumb line against the section just below your kneecap. To perfectly line up your bike seat, move it in a forward and backward direction. Repeat it until it gets to the desired line.
Above all, always remember never to tilt your bike saddle too much, for it will force you to put pressure on your arms unnecessarily, making it very uncomfortable.
Several saddle manufacturers released different saddle models to accommodate each cyclists’ unique preferences and needs. The following are examples of bike seats available in the market:
- Mimic saddle – this type of saddle creates a hammock-like cutout that prevents soft tissue from friction and swelling. This saddle is perfect for women.
- Raised-back saddle – this kind of saddle is designed to cradle you from the back, minimizing the pressure.
- Noseless Saddle – this saddle is designed without the nose to promote better blood flow on the butt during each ride
- Flat Saddle– this saddle is the lightest saddle design, weighing only at 180-200 grams in the market. Though being flat meant lesser padding and cushion, flat saddles are comfortable enough for long-distance rides.
Tip Number 5: Get A Bike Fit By Professionals
If the problem keeps coming back after all the adjustments, maybe it’s time to have your bike be fitted by a professional. Professionals follow a system that’s designed to give you the most comfortable ride out of your bike. Find one in your local area or online.
Looking for more tips on how to choose the right saddle? Read here.
Click here for the best bike saddles that you can buy today.