Monday, September 22, 2014

Chamois Tales: Cream, Glide or Neither

A couple of summers ago, I was convinced that in no way did I need padded cycling shorts. As my distances were increasing, however, my sensitive parts were not loving the additional time in the saddle and it was suggested that I give in and get a pair of padded shorts. Yes, I am stubborn and I was convinced that they were unnecessary and it was merely an attempt to get me to spend money on something I didn't need. Oh, how I was wrong. I was so happy to have that extra padding when I completed longer rides. I have no idea now how I ever got away without wearing them on long distances!

Much like my thoughts on padded cycling shorts, I couldn't understand why anyone would use chamois creams or glides. It seemed unnecessary, but again, as distances became even longer and more time was spent sweating in the saddle, I wondered if this product would provide any kind of relief. In addition, I'd started experiencing saddle sores on nearly every ride. I'd taken the normal steps to remedy such issues, but no matter how many showers I took before, after, or multiple times a day, I couldn't prevent those painful spots from appearing.

One day early this past spring, as we meandered through a bike shop, I decided to take a peek at the chamois creams/glides. After asking the shop guys if they had any preferences among the various choices, no one seemed to have any real advice or opinions (I found out later this is because none of them use the stuff). So, I figured I'd be the guinea pig and try some out for myself.
*Image found here
My first round started with a chamois glide. It comes in a stick form and the container looks a lot like deodorant. To use, it is simply applied to the location(s) where friction or rubbing occurs (whether on the skin directly or on the chamois is apparently a matter of preference). I returned from a 30-mile ride without any indication of hot spots or saddle sores. Hmm, I thought, perhaps this is merely a fluke, or on longer rides it may not have the same usefulness. So, I tried it on a longer ride, and for multiple days in a row too. Wonder of all wonders, I never once had any issues with sores or hot spots. It was like a miracle product discovery. Why had I avoided this for so long?
*Image found here
During another shop visit, I picked up a couple small packets of chamois cream and figured I'd give those a try as well. It didn't have quite the same effectiveness with the cream for me (I think the ride was too long and I didn't bother to reapply the stuff as time ticked away), but it seemed to work better than nothing at all. The cream version was messier to handle and deal with, whereas the glide didn't have that lotion-like feeling. I can see how either, depending on preferences, could be useful though.

At this point, I have a difficult time imagining doing a long ride without a cream or glide. The fact that I can ride all day and not have to deal with saddle sores seems like some sort of miracle - though I realize this was all due to my unwillingness to simply try it and see what happened. Such an inexpensive fix for something that was at times quite painful. However, I know of many others who don't use any products and they complete centuries (or longer) on their bikes. Whether using a cream or glide would be beneficial to these individuals, I do not know, but I suppose if they haven't needed it thus far, it makes perfect sense not to seek out a product.

How about you? Do you use a cream/butter/glide when you ride? Any particular products that have worked well for you? If you've avoided it like I did for so long, was it in any way due to articles such as this one? Because... honestly, had I remembered reading the article prior to trying a product, I may have thought about it even longer.

4 comments:

  1. I use chamois butt'r and mostly to prevent chafing toward the front/pubic bone area for rides over 50 miles. I used to not use padded shorts or chamois cream or whatever on rides, but after about 100 miles my body really benefits from using padded shorts. And with that, a bit of chamois cream, too. I've used Boudreaux's Butt Paste too, and it also works well for me. It's essentially zinc oxide. One question: if you had to pick betw/ Chamois Butt'r or the Chamois Glide, which would be your go-to?

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    1. In my experience, there's definitely a distance limit to avoid problems when not using padded shorts, so I'm definitely with you.

      For me personally, I like the glide because it seems to stay on better and not require reapplication (at least over a several hour ride - my story might be different on multi-day rides). Of course, the Chamois Butt'r comes in travel sized packages so it's easy to store for bike travel (the glide may as well, but I've not seen it - though the container is generally smaller so it may fit in a bag while riding anyway). So, in short answer, I think I'd choose the glide over the Butt'r.

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  2. Neither. In the past I've tried padded shorts, but found the sweat factor to be a deterrent. But, I've also never tried any lubricant. I figured it would be too difficult to continually hand wash clothing while on the road (I camp). I use yoga shorts or lycra shorts, whatever has a gusseted crotch. For multiday tours, I bring several pairs and wash them. For me personally, getting sores has more to do with humidity levels and terrain. The more humid the more likely to develop sores. The more challenging the terrain, the less time "in the saddle" in a fixed position is helpful also.

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    1. Interesting that you've found humidity to be the biggest problem with sores. I think I got lucky with one of my early choices for a pair of padded cycling shorts because I know several people who haven't had very good luck and experienced more chaffing and/or sores with the padded shorts than without them (my first experience several years prior to trying again actually was horrible, so I think that was the biggest deterrent to trying again). I can't blame anyone for not wanting to experience the issues that arise with experimenting further. I also think that if a rider has something that works, why mess with it?

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