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  1. #1
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    opinion on saddle sores after 6 consecutive centuries?

    I hesitate to ask the following question, because it sounds so stupid, but ...

    Three weeks ago I did six consecutive centuries and had saddle sores. Fact of life or should I replace my Fizik Arione saddle?

    It was a trip from Maastricht in the Netherlands to Valréas in France in six days, 6 times 110 miles. I carried a small backpack with tarp, sleeping bag etc., 13.5 - 15.5 lbs I guess. The first three days were OK, some discomfort that disappeared as soon as I stepped from the bike. Each night I used a (very mild) cortisone crème to treat the area. During the day I used Nivea. I'm allergic to lots of stuff, but I'm certain I don't react badly to Nivea.

    The fourth day a heatwave struck, with temperatures climbing to 95 °F on the sixth day. I was sweating like crazy. On the last day the saddle sores had become very painful. There was mechanical pain where the bones touch the saddle and a very unpleasant irritation where the pressure points are.

    I wore bibs from Shimano and Goretex and washed them every night. The Arione has never given me trouble before (longest trip I did before was 170 miles in one day).

    Is it the saddle, is it normal or did I do something wrong?

  2. #2
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    If you can trace it back to pressure points, I'd look into a new saddle.

    I'd recommend a true butt butter if you can find one you don't react to since they contain anti fungals and often zinc oxide to keep the nasties down when you're wrapped that tight for so long and on consecutive days. You can even mix up your own.

    I often use diaper rash cream when I can feel some discomfort coming on after a long ride, it quickly helps clear up issues before they have a chance to take off.

  3. #3
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    The backpack can't have helped.

  4. #4
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    You might have to progressively build up your butt's acclimation to such consecutive distances.

    Did you examine yourself? Did you have broken skin? If so, the broken skin got infected. Antiseptic ointment at the end of the day. Keep the area dry at night. Try another chamois cream; something cycling specific. I'm not sure Nivea provides long lasting lubrication. It may break down with sweat.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ericm979 View Post
    The backpack can't have helped.
    The backpack was part of the problem, I suspect. It has a mesh back and good ventilation - but not where the hipbelt meets my back. That area was soaking wet with perspiration after half an hour, and made the back of my bibs soaking wet too.

    I applied antiseptic ointment, but only after the ride. It worked. After a couple of days I could do Alpe d'Huez* and the Madeleine** without significant saddle sores. Perhaps I should have used it from the beginning.

    * (more myth than murderer)
    ** (a mean bastard, Ventoux class if you ask me)

  6. #6
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    Mention of a tarp and sleeping bag lead me to believe you probably were't hoping in the shower right after the ride. If that's the case that probably didn't help.
    It may have been a coincidence but the only time I'd ever had issues with sores was on a trip where I hung out wearing my bibs for sometime before getting to a shower.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jay Strongbow View Post
    Mention of a tarp and sleeping bag lead me to believe you probably were't hoping in the shower right after the ride. If that's the case that probably didn't help.
    It may have been a coincidence but the only time I'd ever had issues with sores was on a trip where I hung out wearing my bibs for sometime before getting to a shower.
    Interesting. I usually pitched the tarp, did some shopping for food, had a beer etc. before I took a shower.

  8. #8
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    getting out of the bibs and into a shower ASAP has made a difference in susceptibility to saddle sores for me. Also not using chamois cream helped.
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  9. #9
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    I find the combination of bibs and saddle to make a difference for me. For long events I use the Asssos Mille, chamois creme (Assos or Eurostyle) and a Berthoud leather saddle that I can move around on. Baby wipes do when shower facilities are not available or time does not allow. Wipe, dry out, reapply creme, repeat at next interval.

    Always carry all my stuff on the bike, absolutely never on me. Backpacks cause more concentrated sweat, as you found out, add more weight where you don't want it and also change your balance on the bike. For me this also includes Camelbacks. Try to keep the chamois as dry as possible.
    With bicycles in particular, you need to separate between what's merely true and what's important.

  10. #10
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    I agree with the "on the bike" approach. I have found that the convenience of the camelbak is more than negated by the extra hassle and the way it makes you sweat. if you are sweating so much you need a camelbak, you don't want 5 or 6 pounds hanging on your back. I get out of the bibs as quick as I can, dry off and go commando in some loose fitting gym shorts. Strip in the parking lot if you have to and rinse the nether regions with water bottle if that is all that is available. At the first sign of trouble down there , I generously wipe down with Witch Hazel.

  11. #11
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    Thanks for all the replies & suggestions!

    I now think my saddle sores were caused by a combination of factors.

    - Insufficient preparation and sheer stupidity. I had done only one century in 2015. I tried the backpack on a 20 mile trip, but nothing longer. And I raised the handlebars 3 cm (a bit more than an inch) two days before I left, because I suddenly thought that my usual, more sporty position would be unsuitable for six consecutive centuries.

    - The backpack, for all the reasons mentioned here.

    - Poor hygiëne. I should have gotten out of those bibs as soon as possible each night. I also think that the Nivea didn't work. I'm trying Assos now, and I don't seem to be allergic to it.

    - Bad luck. I'm not used to higher temperatures. The heatwave and the headwind that started blowing on day four (40 km/h or 25 mph according to the newspapers) made the trip harder than expected and probably impaired my resistance. The heat made me lose my appetite, too.

    Plenty of mistakes I'm not going to repeat.
    But the saddle had little to do with it.
    Last edited by HFroller; 08-08-2015 at 11:36 AM.

  12. #12
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    I personally cant stand nor ride on Fizik saddles, took me a bit but once I found the correct saddle and comfort position on my fit most of my saddle sore issues went away. I still use Belgium Budder on every ride, since I have done that I have yet to really get any sores from long endurance rides.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJay74 View Post
    I personally cant stand nor ride on Fizik saddles,
    Where as I have found the Fizik Arione to be my best friend, with up to 300 miles in a day and no discomfort. But then, I have never had much of a problem finding the right saddle. I used the Selle Italia SLR until I found the abbreviated "apron" on the side gave me problems at anything over 200 miles.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJay74 View Post
    I personally cant stand nor ride on Fizik saddles, took me a bit but once I found the correct saddle and comfort position on my fit most of my saddle sore issues went away. I still use Belgium Budder on every ride, since I have done that I have yet to really get any sores from long endurance rides.
    Well, that points to another reason why I got saddle sores, I guess.

    I never had them before. I can easily do a century in bibs with very thin padding without any trouble at all (and without using chamois creme). I never thought saddle sores could become a problem. I didn't do any research on how to avoid them. A bit of searching on the web probably could have saved me a lot of discomfort.

  15. #15
    pmf
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    When I think of saddle sores, I think of an infected, painful, large pimple-type growth in the crotch area. My wife sometimes gets a rash that she refers to as saddle sores, but that's not the same thing. Once you get one, you need to squeeze/drain it which hurts. Apply some acne cream before bed to dry it up.

    After cycling for years, I've found that the best way to avoid a saddle sore is like others are saying -- hygiene. Shower and get into lose fitting clothes as soon as you can. Keeping your shorts clean (which you did) helps, but showering ASAP is the key thing.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    When I think of saddle sores, I think of an infected, painful, large pimple-type growth in the crotch area. My wife sometimes gets a rash that she refers to as saddle sores, but that's not the same thing. Once you get one, you need to squeeze/drain it which hurts. Apply some acne cream before bed to dry it up.

    After cycling for years, I've found that the best way to avoid a saddle sore is like others are saying -- hygiene. Shower and get into lose fitting clothes as soon as you can. Keeping your shorts clean (which you did) helps, but showering ASAP is the key thing.
    If you're interested in the tasty details ... My partner left a week later and came by car to Valréas. She inspected me, told me that I am the biggest idiot who ever walked the face of the earth, declared me incapable and not of full legal capacity, and told me that I had two spots where the skin was broken and where there was "a beginning of an infection". I also had a visible pimple in the crotch area, that I had squeezed (I mean the pimple, not the crotch area). Antibacterial cream took care of both problems in a couple of days.

    Around the pimple, but under the skin, were three or four hard "points", like small ball bearings. They disappeared after three or so weeks, the cream seemed to have little or no effect.

    Now that we have become so intimate ... I almost feel like a family member ... I'll confess that I used compeed the last day of the trip(*). Bad idea. 1) It's didn't stop the saddle sores from becoming worse 2) it's painful to remove 3) it leaves a sticky residu on the chamois that several washing couldn't remove (cleaning fluid worked).

    So yes, better hygiëne ...

    (*) the most awkward moment of the trip was when the lady in the French "pharmacie" wanted to give advice and asked what I was going to use the compeed for.
    Last edited by HFroller; 08-19-2015 at 12:45 PM.

  17. #17
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    I have found that Noxzema face wash will help with cleaning the bacteria from the crotch region, Tea Tree Oil also helps once you are dried off from the shower to dry out the pimples/sores/cyst if they have formed.

    As said though, get out of the shorts/bibs ASAP, the longer you stay in them the better the chances of getting a sore/infection. The chamois chafes the skin in that region which allows the bacteria inside the hair follicle and causes the sores.

    I get out of my bibs ASAP and then use handy wipes and wipe down to clean some of the sweat out. Then when I get home I use the Noxzema in that area in the shower and then wash and dry as normal.

    My 1st year of cycling I was getting sores constantly and multiple ones. Now since I have changed my process I almost never get any.

  18. #18
    pmf
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    Around the pimple, but under the skin, were three or four hard "points", like small ball bearings. They disappeared after three or so weeks, the cream seemed to have little or no effect.

    Yeah, that's the classic saddle sore ...

    Now that we have become so intimate ... I almost feel like a family member ... I'll confess that I used compeed the last day of the trip(*). Bad idea. 1) It's didn't stop the saddle sores from becoming worse 2) it's painful to remove 3) it leaves a sticky residu on the chamois that several washing couldn't remove (cleaning fluid worked).

    What is compeed? Some euro woman's thing?

    (*) the most awkward moment of the trip was when the lady in the French "pharmacie" wanted to give advice and asked what I was going to use the compeed for.[/QUOTE]

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    What is compeed? Some euro woman's thing?
    Compeed is brand of 2nd Skin Blister pads.

  20. #20
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    Six hundred years is a long time to be on a bike. I would definitely want a Brooks under my arse.

  21. #21
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    I made a mix of Betadine, Sudocrem, Bepanthen and Preparation H (Hemorrhoid cream) for last years Simpson Desert race which is 130km a day for 5 days of soft sand and ass smashing corrugations. It went well and I made up such a big batch, Im still using it.

    Used to get sores after 2-3 days of rides, now toss the chamois shorts off ASAP, shower and apply ghetto cream with no sores to complain about... sometimes it doesn't work out exactly that way and I get an occasional one, but not as often.
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  22. #22
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    Opinion on saddle sores: I disapprove of them.

    I have nothing useful to add to the good advice given above. Your phrasing just reminded me of Ghandi's famous reply when asked by an English journalist what he thought of Western civilization. "I think," replied the Mahatma, "that it would be a very good idea."
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  23. #23
    pmf
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    Quote Originally Posted by HFroller View Post
    Compeed is brand of 2nd Skin Blister pads.
    That still means nothing to me. What is it used for? To create blisters?

  24. #24
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    Sorry, I thought Compeed, second skin etc. were well known in the US. Perhaps this can help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compeed.

    I'm certain I saw it when I lived in Austin (TX) but I don't remember the brand names.

    It's used by hikers with blisters on their feet. In those circumstances it works, sort of. I guess I found a new application for the cycling community.

    Quote Originally Posted by pmf View Post
    That still means nothing to me. What is it used for? To create blisters?

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJay74 View Post
    The chamois chafes the skin in that region which allows the bacteria inside the hair follicle and causes the sores.
    This raises an interesting question. To shave or not to shave? If I shave, I do it rather thoroughly, groin aera included. But for this trip I decided against it. Although I didn't expect saddle sores, I knew that the trip was going to be hard on my butt. I suspected that shaving and the resulting hair growth were going to increase the probability of bacteria infecting the hair follicles. Was I wrong?

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