Chafing: The Bicyclist’s Archenemy

It’s time to write my blog again, actually, a day later than usual, but I didn’t have a subject. Usually I think of something while cycling. Sometimes I just start writing until something comes to mind. I was going to write about my birthday ride, but one person who joined me hasn’t given permission to use their photo. Last night, I met a woman who is older and who had an interesting story, but we had only just met, so I don’t have many details. I’m out of town so could write about how crappy the cycling facilities are here (virtually non-existent), but I’m not very inspired by that topic. So what does that leave me with? I mean, I recently wrote a post on farting in the peloton. You can’t stink — I mean sink — much lower than that. Of course I’m not restricted to bicycling, but books, movies, TV, politics, etc. are not speaking to me. There’s always advice about cycling, repairs, brands, parts, etc. but there are plenty of those out there and nothing relevant is popping into my mind. But there is this one thing I could blog about: chafing.

Yeah, that’s right, I said it. It’s the dreaded diaper rash on steroids that afflicts even the best of bicyclists sometimes. It’s sort of a taboo subject, even if you do find articles about, or see ads hawking the latest product to reduce the Red Devil. It is a condition that can severely cramp your style, and in the case of a saddle sore, completely derail you if it’s bad enough. I’ve written before about those specifically in The Top 3 Ways Bicycling Can Hurt Your Skin and What to Do About It. and recommended Chamois Butt’r. Of course there are other products out there, like former pro racer Dave Zabriskie’s DZ Nuts. I sometimes use a zinc oxide thought it is smelly and messy, and easier is a talc power form of zinc O2. Whatever product you go with isn’t as important as that you try to avoid getting them in the first place.

Want to be reduce the chances you’ll get this affliction? Well, after any frequent sweating in the nether regions, upon finishing, be sure to immediately wash ‘ out your bike shorts. Using warm water and soap are two ways to decrease the odds of an unfriendly environment “down there. Clean skin and clean padded bike shorts are the best way to approach this. A pound of prevention being worth an ounce of cure, and all that. I almost always wear bike shorts but often underneath regular shorts. Form-fitting latex is great for cooling by evaporation, but it’s not great for wearing in public when you’re out of the saddle — or to prevent the dreaded chafing. But the chamois section has extra layers and in the Texas more heat no es bueno.

Who gets chafing and what is the situation that usually caused it? Well, it varies, because of the ph balance in your pants, what you’re wearing, temperature, humidity, type of riding you do, and so on. If you’re a racer you’re probably used to putting on a new kit every time. But one thing is definitely a concern for many Americans, i.e., people with too much junk in their trunk. In other words, fatness. Those of us with that issue are generally at higher risk for skin irritation. So we have to take extra care with shorts, products, rest breaks, and bike fit. That’s on top of the critical judgement we get, wordlessly or directly, from the genetically luckier sorts with a lower BMI (Body Mass Index).

The best advice I can give is try various things until you find a combination that works for you. To not means inviting more pain and discomfort both on and off the bike. In the end, you’ll be bummed if you don’t, and I’m sure you don’t want to end up looking like an ass. (That’s three but puns in one sentence, people!) So please beware, and take care of that derriere out there!


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