The Perfect Behind
Banishing a sore bum while riding really isn’t as tough as you might think and yet it’s probably the single biggest complaint from the beginner cyclist – and a few who are rather more seasoned, too. Pardon the pun but the bottom line is that in everyday life we’re used to sitting down – a lot. Heck, you’re probably practising your sitting down skills right now, but you’ll notice that actually very few people sit on their ‘sit bones’ – or ischial tuberosities, in doctor speak (basically, the bottom of the pelvis). Instead, we tend to curve the lower back, slouch and sit on our glutes. This means that when we come to sit on a saddle correctly and place the majority of our weight through the bones, the skin itself isn’t used to it and can become sore. As you’ll find if you dig the garden, skin quickly hardens, thus reducing the problem, and so it is with the skin covering your sit bones. Waiting for things to improve is far from your only course of action, as there are three distinct areas you can look at – we’re thinking of your shorts, your saddle and the bit between you and your shorts. Larger saddle companies offer alternatives and solutions to help address getting things comfortable. From Specialized’s Body Geometry products to Fizik’s Spine Concept, many companies offer some sort of
IT’S IMPORTANT THAT YOUR SHOES ARE THE RIGHT SIZE AND SHAPE FOR YOUR FEET, IN LENGTH, WIDTH AND VOLUME
fit system. One of the most straightforward and well developed is Selle Italia’s ID Match, as it offers two widths and three styles of base, covering a range of riding styles and price points. We heartily recommend getting advice and some form of fitting to make sure you know what you’re looking for and not just choosing one that looks good, fits your price range or is endorsed by your favourite pro. Many saddle brands also offer a demo solution that will allow you to try out a saddle before putting down your credit card. When it comes to cycling shorts, there’s an awful lot to be said for finding a pair that not only fits well but offers a good amount of padding too. The range is huge and it’s our experience that while in some cases you’re paying for marketing spend, more often than not you get what you pay for. Look out for multi-density pads, that add comfort where you need it and reduce bulk elsewhere, and if you can stretch to it opt for a foam insert that has aeration holes as breathability helps keep your skin healthy. We’d also say that pads with stretch are really the only ones worth looking at. While we’re on the subject of the skin, you might well have seen or heard of chamois cream. Harking back to the days when the pad in your short was literally a chamois, you had to apply a lubricating cream to keep it soft. With man-made fabrics, that’s no longer the case yet the tube of goo has remained in the cyclist’s kit bag. Smear this clingy cream liberally over your skin where it contacts the saddle and it will allow movement in the shorts without the friction that makes skin sore. Allied to this, antibacterial agents will fight bacterial or fungal infections and so keep skin healthy. See our round-up of chamois creams on page 78 for advice on what to buy – and if you’re really struggling, nappy rash cream with its greater content of medicated goodness will help no end.