Well, this is all a bit embarrassing – time to talk about ‘barnacle bum’ syndrome.
As riders get more experienced, and find they are spending longer in the saddle, a few problems can occur in the ‘lower regions’. Sores, in the form of spots or even abscesses, can occur around the ‘saddle area’ of your body. This is caused by a combination of friction, sweat and/or grime that builds up during the ride.
To combat saddle sores you should wear freshly laundered cycle specific clothing and change out of your sweaty gear as soon as you can – even if there’s no shower nearby. Keeping cool and dry will certainly help things post-ride.
If you are doing longer rides, or even just riding a lot more frequently, then consider getting cycle shorts with a build-in padded area. This padding used to be made of chamois leather – like the stuff used to clean car windscreens – hence the name shammy (or chammy). The chammy liner is there to wick away moisture, reduce friction and to provide a bit of padding. Getting the correct fit is important too, otherwise you’ll be missing out on getting the most comfortable ride. You mustn’t wear underwear beneath your padded shorts, either – it’s important that the ‘chamois’ is next to your skin so it works as intended.
Even wearing shammy shorts may not be enough to ensure comfort for longer hours in the saddle, so consider getting some chammy cream. This cream is applied to your skin around the contact points of your saddle, reducing friction and providing an antibacterial barrier. Apply it liberally to your skin, and possibly also the padding: you’ll have to learn by experimenting on yourself. It feels a bit odd when you first start using it, but it can dramatically improve your comfort.
There are lots of shapes and sizes of chamois shorts: bib shorts; ladies specific; built in armour, and creams come with different formulations too – from £20 tubs of cycle specific goo, to nappy cream (Bepanthen), or even a humble tub of vaseline. If you find that you’re getting post-ride problems, or you are simply looking for a lot more comfort, then pop into your local bike shop and get some well-fitting padded cycle shorts and a tub of chamois cream.
Even with chamois shorts and cream, remember to change out of your damp stuff as soon as you can – even if you can’t get to a bath/shower right away.