If you follow my Instagram, then you’ll know that I’m not shy talking about all things inappropriate, sexual or just plain gross. This is one of those things, and something I feel really needs to be discussed. At length. Because when this happened to me, and I tried to google, nobody went into detail and there was so much I wish I had been told; I would have been saved so much pain and discomfort.
I want to talk about saddles sores. And broken vaginas. Because I have suffered from both, incessantly, for a good part of a year. Everyone always sort of says “oh, use chamois cream, it helps” but never actually goes into detail of what to expect, and how to deal with it.
So here. I’m putting an end to this misery female cyclists everywhere are suffering in silence, and actually sharing the tricks and secrets of the trade. Do not discount this issue, newbie cyclist, because mark my words, saddle sores will come for you; and they will hurt you.
First and foremost – what the actual fck is a saddle sore? It’s an irritation of the skin, to be put extremely simply, and can range from chafing and itching to a full blown under-the-skin cyst that if not treated properly will become seriously infected and require medical intervention. They normally occur around the groin and other areas of the body that come in contact with the saddle (ladies, I’m talking about your hooch).
So how do you get them?
- Sweating and friction from rubbing against the saddle
- Poor quality kit
- Unsuitable saddle
- Bad cycling position
- Cycling, in general
The above are the main reasons for saddle sores, and I want to go through preventative measures with you before we get on to how to actually treat the little fuckers.
The problem: Sweating and friction from rubbing against the saddle
The Solution: Chamois cream
This is where chamois cream is going to come in extremely helpful. Apply a generous amount of chamois cream to your lady garden and surrounding region. I use the Attaquer Shammy (ugh, guys, spell chamois correctly!) Cream, but a lot of people also swear by Bepanthen (nappy cream) or the Assos Chamois Cream.
Also, as a side note, if you prefer your land down under free of forestry, then you will also be more susceptible to the cyst types of saddle sores as these are actually a form of folliculitis. Just a note to be aware of. I learned this the hard way.
The problem: Poor Quality Kit
The Solution: Invest in decent chamois
Trust me, nobody knows better than I just how expensive cycling kit can be. I nearly choked when a full priced Rapha kit cost me nearly as much as my training wheels, and promptly abandoned the shopping basket. Feel free to get stingy on your jerseys – I happen to have quite a decent repertoire of dhb jerseys in my wardrobe, but having learned the hard way just how far a decent quality set of bibs will go, I will no longer scrimp.
If you wait until a quality brand such as Rapha goes on sale, their bibs are unbeatable in terms of quality and comfort and I have never experienced a saddle sore whilst in Rapha kit. (I wish Rapha paid me to say this, but alas, they did not. I just genuinely like their gear.)
The problem: Unsuitable saddle
The Solution: Are you an inny or an outtie?
This one blew my mind. Whenever people spoke about incorrect saddles, I always thought they meant in terms of cushion etc etc but as it turns out, for women, this gets a lot more intimate…
Ladies, to quote Kendrick Lamar, “Life ain’t shit but a fat vagina”.
To put it quite simply, if you’re rocking an outtie vagina then you will probably find the most comfort with a cut-out saddle.
Mindblowing, right? Try looking at saddles the same.
The problem: bad cycling position
The solution: go get a bike fit
I cannot stress enough how important and beneficial a proper bike fit is. As well as mitigating posture, hip and back problems they will also save you from sitting incorrectly on the bike. A too far forward or too far back position will not do good things for your lady regions.
A proper bike fit will cost you around the $300 mark, but if you build yourself a good rapport with your local bike shop, or head to Ride at Indooroopilly, you will find they’ll normally look after you with a good deal. Jason and Kristi are two incredible people, and their mechanic is none other than Ryan Bayley – yes, the Ryan Bayley.
As well as the above, simply sitting around in your bibs at the coffee shop after a bike ride can also significantly increase your chances of saddle sores and also other fungal/bacterial infections. Canesten may become a bathroom staple if you spend too long downing your piccolo and banana bread.
Now that we’ve gone through the preventative measures, what do you do when you’ve actually got them? Well, you definitely do not just jump into the shower after your ride and bare them to the spray gung-ho.
Take care and be super gentle when showering and washing them off, the water will most definitely sting them if you’ve ever had them to the extent that I have.
Post shower, slather some bepanthen or other aftercare saddle sore treatment on them. If they’re particularly bad, I will then typically rock commando for a few hours just to give them a chance to breathe.
Before every ride, apply a little bit extra chamois cream to the area of the saddle sore. To be honest, I don’t know if this factually helps but I find that it always alleviates the discomfort for me a little bit.
Good luck, young padawans. If you have any advice to share with me, please do, because in all honesty I have no idea what the fuck I’m talking about – I’m just writing from experience.