It just feels wrong to talk about certain things with bike shop guys. Like, for example, anything to do with my woo-hoo. Which is unfortunate considering how much time I spend in the saddle.
Nether regions take considerable abuse on long rides and, actually, should be considered. I don’t want to start an argument here, but tending our tissues might even be more important than finding jerseys that match our bikes. Trust me. A cute jersey doesn’t seem nearly as alluring when numbness and chafing are involved.
So let’s talk girl talk. A few things you should know:
1. Your sex life depends on your seat and handlebar positions. Seriously? The Journal of Sexual Medicine studied female cyclists who rode at least 16 kilometers a week, four weeks per month.
They found that riding with handlebars lower than the seat increased pressure and decreased sensation, which reduced ability to detect vibration. Lead study author, Dr. Marsha K. Guess, of Yale University School of Medicine is quoted as saying, “Chronic insult to the genital nerves from increased saddle pressures could potentially result in sexual dysfunction.”
As if we don’t already have enough trouble lighting the fire.
So girls, get yourself a custom bike fit. (Don’t just raise your bars because you might jack up your neck muscles.) Whether you tell the shop guy why you want a fitting is up to you. But this I know. Your partner will be pleased.
2. Chamois cream. Buying chamois cream is kind of like buying tampons from a male clerk but, in truth, bike shop guys won’t bat an eye when you toss a tube of lube on the counter. Think about it. For once, we have the anatomical advantage. Guy cyclists have been dealing with nether-region woes for years.
Chamois cream acts as a film of protection between your bare areas and chamois (the diaper-like pad in cycling shorts). It lubricates, reduces friction and, depending on the brand, might include anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties.
Getting the chamois right in the first place is vital (and worthy of an article all its own) but it’s not going to be enough, especially as you increase riding time and mileage. The first time you come home with chamois seams cut into your buns, you’ll know what I mean.
Try different creams and see what works best. DZNuts Bliss and Chamois Butt’r are two popular brands. You’ll find an array of soothing, tingly and/or organic options.
3. This might seem obvious but…leave your underpants at home. Our women’s cycling clinics tell me this isn’t as obvious as it seems because our chamois cream talk is frequently interrupted by someone who says, “Oh, I don’t need chamois cream. Probably because I wear my underwear under my shorts.”
This usually causes a stir as some are flabbergasted while others try to defend the underwear-er.
Bike shorts aren’t just lycra. There is a reason they aren’t cheap. Scientists have thought about your tender tissues and every year, clothing collections include newer, better and drier fabrics and chamois.
Your polka-dot hipsters negate whatever benefit millions of dollars of research produced.
I know. It feels a little squiggy to go commando but I guarantee you, by the end of your first ride you’ll get it. Besides, women have shunned panty lines for years. Let’s not bring them back.
By Carrie Schmeck – Redding, CA