Your Bum

I get a lot of questions on how to protect your bum on a long, multi-day bike ride. Certainly, during the first ten days of this ride, butt blisters, rashes, and saddle sores caused more missed days than any other single factor.  So here — collected for your convenience — are all the tips I’ve ever heard on how to protect your bum.  I haven’t tried all of these personally but all were recommended by at least two biker buddies.

Get your bike – and your saddle — fit to you — before a long ride, it’s a good idea to go to a good bike shop and have your bike fit to you.  It’s surprising what a big difference a number of small changes can make.  Among other things, the technician will measure your sit bones by having you sit on a block of foam.  I found out that my sit bones are 128 mm apart (who knew?) and that my saddle was too narrow.  I bought a new saddle which is much more comfortable.  It probably also makes me a bit more efficient since I can push against the saddle more easily.

Ride on your new saddle a lot — get your bum used to it.

Try a Brooks saddle — this is the “old school” leather saddle that you used to see on 10-speeds.  I have a Brooks on my 1982 road bike and a more “modern” Specialized saddle on my Serotta.  Clearly, I’m of two minds.  The advantage of the Brooks is that its soft leather will — after a few hundred miles — conform to your contours.  It’s like getting a custom-made seat.  We have several riders on our tour who have Brooks saddles with more than 20,000 miles on them.  I think these riders would give up their spouses before their saddles.

Get new riding shorts — the padding in old shorts starts to compress and wear out, leaving you with less protection.

Never wear underwear with riding shorts — this goes for women as well as men.

Use a lubricant — the whole idea is to reduce friction.  My dermatologist says Vaseline is as good as anything.  I’ve had good results with a product called Chamois Butt’r.

Never ride two days in a row with the same shorts — unless you’ve washed them, of course.  Even then, I like to change to different shorts because each pair fits somewhat differently.

Get out of your shorts quickly — on the bike, your shorts are your best friend.  Once the ride is over, they’re your worst enemy.  They’re warm and damp and don’t get much air circulation — a perfect breeding ground for all kinds of nasty critters.  Get ’em off and get in the shower.

Go commando — once you’re out of your riding shorts, put on a regular pair of shorts with no undies.  You want air to circulate through the area.  Tighty whities are the worst.

Kill the rash — if you get a rash, the simplest treatment is to mix hydrocortisone (over-the-counter strength) with Monistat 7 in your palms and then smear it over the rash. Why Monistat 7?  Because every rash on your bum will have some yeast in it — even on guys.

Kill the critters that cause the rash — bacteria cause rashes so — when I’m on long rides — I like to wash my bum at least once a day with Hibiclens, a surgical scrub that kills most everything.  You can buy it at most drug stores.

Stop the swelling — if you get some swelling, trying smearing Preparation H on the affected area.  Preparation H has stuff in it that reduces swelling.

Wear two pairs of riding shorts — I haven’t tried this myself but some friends swear by it — two pairs of shorts provide more padding and cushion you better.  Other friends say that you just get pinched in all the wrong places.

One Response to Your Bum

  1. Harry says:

    Get some silicone butt implants like me.

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