It happens to the best of us if you ride enough, its almost guaranteed that youll get saddle sores sooner or later. Theyre uncomfortable, even painful, and they threaten to make every biking experience a nightmare, and in some cases they can keep you off your bike completely!
Simply put, they are the bikers bane.
For those who dont know, saddle sores come in 3 stages:
- Skin abrasion.
- Folliculitis, which looks like small, reddish acne.
I personally tend to catch them when they reach stage two, and I hope to high heaven that I never have to experience stage three! But the best defense is a good offense, and if you can prevent them and keep these sores to a minimum, then so much the better!
What sort of photos were you expecting? 😉
Saddle Sore Prevention
1. Make sure your bike fit is correct
Team Judson says, If your seat is too high, your hips rock on each pedal stroke and strum your soft tissue across the nose of the saddle. The result is irritated skin and a greater chance of infection. Correct bike fit is a prerequisite for so many things related to excellent mountain biking that hopefully this is not an issue. If in doubt, see a professional fitter or your local bike shop.
2. Make sure you have a good saddle
The importance of having a high-quality saddle that fits your butt well cannot be understated! Of course, everyone prefers a different saddle because everyones butt is different. The key is to experiment, find a saddle that works well for you, and stick with it!
3. Ride a dualie
I personally had never had saddle sores until this year. And this year is the first that Ive spent most of my time riding hardtails. Coincidence? I think not. All of the jarring from the roots, rocks, and other trail obstacles is rough on your entire body, and particularly your taint. Riding a full suspension bike will drastically reduce the amount of rubbing taking place down there.
4. Choose a good chamois
Using a high-quality chamois will definitely improve your chances of avoiding the dreaded bikers bane. Whatever you choose, make sure there are no seams in your chamois!
5. Keep clean
Try to always ride with a clean chamois. Re-using a dirty one will encourage growth of all sorts of nast-inducing bacteria. At the very least, make sure your chamois is dry. Riding with a pair of shorts that is still wet with yesterdays sweat guarantees you’ll be rubbed raw!
6. Lube up
One of the best things you can do to reduce friction and avoid stage one (skin abrasion) is to lube up. There are expensive chamois creams available which are designed to provide maximum glide, but if youre looking for a low-cost alternative, consider Vaseline.
7. Get clean when dirty
Try to get out of your riding shorts and get clean as soon as possible after a ride. Hanging out with your nether regions swimming in your own sweat is, again, an excellent breeding ground for bacteria. Even if you cant shower immediately, at least make sure to change into dry clothes.
8. Ride less
Saddle Sore Treatment
If you ride enough, you are bound to be afflicted with the Bikers Bane at some point. While prevention is the best course of action, when the crotch-acne does strike, its crucial to know how to treat it properly.
1. Keep it clean
When you know for sure that you have saddle sores, doing all of the prevention steps mentioned above is infinitely more important! The last thing you want is for them to get any worse. Your main line of defense will be to keep your crotch as clean as a babys bottom (ok, cleanER than a babys bottom).
Team Judson recommends that you treat it with an over-the-counter acne gel containing 10% benzoyl peroxide. Perhaps even more effective is the topical prescription product called Emgel (erythromycin). If a sore is getting out of control, ask your doctor about a course of oral antibiotics.
I would add that a simple triple antibiotic cream, if administered religiously, will also eliminate saddle sores. I havent personally tried any of the medications recommend by Team Judson, but maybe next time. (Please let there not be a next time!)
3. Ride a dualie
Yes, I know I already mentioned this under prevention. But if youve been riding a hardtail, switching over to a full suspension bike for a while can give your taint a much-needed break.
4. Stop riding
I was kidding when I mentioned this under prevention, but now I am dead serious. Taking a couple days off to heal up is much better than letting this progress to an even worse stage, which could possibly force you to take an even longer break from the bike. If you let the saddle sores get way, way out of control and they get seriously infected, you could even be facing surgery. Of course, that’s a worst-case scenario.
Saddle sores truly are one of the curses of our existence as bikers. I’ll spare you any more details about how uncomfortable they can be. But with the above prevention and treatment techniques, you can now do everything in your power to fight the bane and stay in the saddle as much as possible!
Do you have any tips or tricks to add to the lists above? Feel free to share them in the comments section below!