One thing I absolutely do not like about cycling
Besides rain and getting stuck in branches with my helmet when I search for a place to camp, it is the cycle short. A tight synthetic underwear kind of garment with a thick patch of foam. It feels unnatural. It looks strange. It is not hygienic.
It sticks to my skin in warm weather. It rubs. It hurts. It’s ugly.
I have tried all options: a padded cycle short from a known brand, a padded cycle short from an unknown brand, a synthetic seamless short for fitness without padding, the same one in cotton. I tried normal underwear but the tiniest seam or thickening rubbed too much on the insides of the legs. And I tried a combination of all above.
I have taped myself with cheap Indian paper duct-tape, with soft elastic expensive European tape. I have put petroleum jelly, talcum powder, titanium nappy cream and anti-chaff gel on my bottom and thighs. I was forced to stop. I had burning sensations where I could not get off the saddle anymore. I experienced open skin. I cursed. I ignored cycle shorts with and without padding. And I longed for it equally…
As much else, cycle shorts tend to have evolved over the last couple of years. The padding in front, the pubic bone area and below, is usually wrong designed. As if the designers used a man to come up with a short for women?
I won’t vent my thoughts about the look or the decency of a cycle short, the hygienic point of view is already terrible enough. For how can you wash a cycle short with padding every day when you are in the desert, or on red earth tracks, or stealth camping day after day? It’s impossible. I tried. It doesn’t work.
Pain in the bottom bones, irritations, chaffing, front itching, sweatiness everywhere
What worked for me, to reduce pain on the saddle, to reduce soreness, to do away with front itching due to too much front padding, was less cycling or shorter days.
There is no perfect cycle short for me, and I think more women experience this. So I thought about it while on the saddle and came up with this:
Designers, here are a few tips
- Broad waistband in front, high in the back, elastic, not too tight. Double lined so there’s no need for an uncomfortable elastic string pushing your intestines to mush.
- Long leg part without anti-slip dots or -strip, double conducted plastic strips hurts, it leaves sores.
- Foam in front minimal thickness as women sit on their bottom, even if that is a front forward leaning position on a touring bicycle.
- Foam at bottom bones thick and airy. The padding in a cycle short should be tick on the sit bones and minimal on the pubic bone. Simple.
- Foam must anticipate according use; thick at bones, thin towards sides. Make it a gradual degradation. Try to have the foamy part merge in with the material of the short.
- Why must it b.e synthetic? Make it in highly absorbing cotton, or else at least an absorbing cotton liner.
- No need for an inner pocket plenty of pockets around.
- No use of reflecting ribbon stitched in the seam this is underwear!
The saddle might be partly to blame. Perhaps suspension might work? A nose-less saddle? Less cycling? I came across an article recently, and I think the solution might be another saddle. Here’s a little (of course very commercial) test.
I am a bit hesitant as a saddle doesn’t come cheap. I hoped with the Brooks B12 saddle I would have found a solution for the Terry Liberator, but to no avail…
The Brook saddle feels comfortable like a cloud but it’s the feel of a marble one.
Not many people bother about their cycle short. I do. I cut off waist bands which are too tight. I do the same with the tight, plastic lined anti-slip on the leg part. While cycling I stop to take them off, in an angry mood. Or I stop to pull them on, equally irritated. AARRGGHHH!!!!!!
Is there something you strongly dislike about cycling?