Saddle sores are the best way to ruin a beautiful bike ride. One tiny bump can feel like you are riding on barbed wire. Famous cyclists like Eddy Merckx missed races due to saddle sores. American cyclist Greg LeMond abandoned the 1992 Tour de France on the l’Alpe d’Huez stage blaming unending torture from saddle sores.

What are Saddle Sores?

Saddle sores are skin conditions seen in the genital region of cyclists. They are a result of the unfortunate mixture of moisture, pressure, and friction where athletes sit on the saddle. 

Saddle sores starting with simple chafing of the skin over the butt, genital region, and/or inner thigh. If ignored, the condition gets worse and more painful. The areas can become open sores. That can become infected, and it goes downhill from there.

Inflammation can also occur around the hair follicles. The most severe sores involve the development of an abscess or deep skin infection that may be filled with puss.

If you have ever had a saddle sore, you know how horrible they are. In a perfect world, you would never get a saddle sore. Prevention is so much better than figuring out a cure. 

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How to prevent saddle sores: 

  • A good bike fit. A seat that is too high rocks the hips and leads to friction.
  • Increase mileage gradually. Ramping up too quickly doesn’t allow the boy to adapt well.
  • Move around. Stand up, and move around during a ride. This changes the pressure points and allows parts of your body to have a break.
  • Invest in good bike shorts. When it comes to cycling shorts, you get what you pay for. Invest in a pair of shorts that have a smooth chamois with flat seams. Women do best with a women-specific chamois.
  • Getting a seat that fits you. Most good bike shops have special seats to measure your sit bones and can recommend different saddles. They also offer seats to try before you buy. If you ride on a seat for more than a couple of weeks and it doesn’t feel good. Get a different one. different saddles that you can try.
  • Use lube. There are some good chamois creams that work great to lube the friction. Assos creamChamois Butt’rSquirrel’s Nut Butter, just to name a few.
  • Keep it clean. Wear clean shorts before the ride, take them off as soon as you finish a ride.
  • If it is too late, how to treat saddle sores:
  • Medical treatments. Use acne medicine containing 10% benzoyl peroxide. If the sores are unbearably painful, seek medical attention.
  • Rest. It can be hard to say no to rides for FOMO (fear of missing out), but the sooner your sores clear up, the happier your fanny will be.

If You Must Ride:

Sometimes there are situations where you can’t avoid riding. A big race or a training camp is hard to miss even if you are uncomfortable or in pain.

  • Change shorts or get new shorts
  • Get a new saddle. 
  • Use extra lube or different brands of lube.
  • Hide the pain. Use over the counter pain relievers and/or anti-inflammatories. Just remember, numbing the pain doesn’t mean there isn’t still a problem. 

Best of luck to you in keeping your fanny happy.


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