Secrets of the Clumsy Cyclist

Clumsy. Klutz. Spatially impaired…I’ve been called it all. For the cyclist who tends to get hurt or crash on a regular basis, I’d like to share some products/tips that can help you out. The “off” season can make for an especially troubling time with rain, ice, and snow getting in the way.

My first tip is for preventing saddle sores. Even if you’re riding indoors on a trainer, you can get a saddle sore. Eventually all cyclists experience this annoyingly painful ailment.

1. Make sure your body and your cycling shorts are CLEAN. Dead skin cells and bacteria can spell trouble, should you experience chaffing.

2. Wear properly sized cycling shorts, especially with a bit of padding. If shorts are too baggy, they can actually create MORE friction than shorts on the tighter end of the spectrum.

3. Have the correct size/style of saddle for the type of riding you are doing. Believe it or not, saddles are created for different positions and posteriors. A local shop can explain the differences and even measure your sit bones to ensure maximum comfort.

4. Use chamois cream! Ideally you want a paraben free, alcohol free chamois cream. Creams made with natural ingredients and bacteria fighting ingredients are best. Look for items such as tea tree oil or witch hazel. Both have bacteria fighting, antiseptic properties.

Plugging Hoo Ha again? Damn straight! We love the stuff and so should you!
Plugging Hoo Ha again? Damn straight! We love the stuff and so should you!

Tip two, how to treat saddle sores. Even if you follow all the steps above you can still get saddle sores. Here’s a list of things you should do to treat it.

1. Take a hot bath or shower. If you don’t have access to a shower (maybe you’re on a bike tour?!) try using a hot wash cloth to clean the tender area.

2. Dry off with a fresh, clean towel or paper towel. Sometimes sores will weep, so try to dry them best you can. More often than not they won’t be weepy, just raw skin.

3. Put healing ointment on the sores. Bag Balm has long been our go-to as it does a great job of repairing the skin and healing the wounds. I’ve had saddle sores that have mended overnight thanks to this stuff. It’s in the green tin and costs around $10. Smells funny, works great!

Magically goop in a pretty green tin.
Magical goop in a pretty green tin.

4. Put on cotton underwear or a synthetic underwear that breathes well and isn’t tight against the skin. Skin needs oxygen to heal, especially soft tissue. If possible, wear loose fitting shorts or cotton pants for sleeping.

Tip three is for dealing with road rash. Scrapes and scratches happen. Ever wonder why cyclist shave their legs? We’ll explain.

1. SHAVING! Whether you’re a guy or girl, it doesn’t really matter. Shaving should be a regular part of your routine during peak season. Cyclists shave both their legs and their arms often times to allow for easy road rash treatment. Hairs can not only collect dirt and debris, but they can also get stuck in the wound. Skin can heal over the hair and cause infection, not to mention it hurts like a motherf@%*$# when changing bandages.

I once had two co-workers who both crashed several weeks in a row during summer. Their road rash was so massive they even destroyed two cycling kits. Luckily ONE of them regularly shaved and healed quickly. The other…well, it wasn’t pretty.

2. Bacitracin is your friend. Doctor and nurse friends say it works better than Neosporin as it draws out infection and has excellent antiseptic properties. It also helps prevent scarring better than other name brand products that have fillers. Plain old Bacitracin in a tube has led to fast healing on personal wounds of ours. *We’re not doctors and you should always consult with a healthcare professional!

bacitracin

Bruises/contusions can be very painful. They also tend to take longer to heal than road rash. Tip four is what we’ve found works best for dealing with them.

1. Ice. It’s easy! Anytime you have swelling or bruising ice can help keep it to a minimum. It constricts the blood vessels as well as numbs the pain.

2. Arnica gel. Arnica is a homeopathic remedy. A plant with a yellow flower that is turned into a gel for topical use. It’s not been proven by the FDA, but Arnica is supposed to speed up the healing of bruises and sprains. We tend to think it works.

Smells funny. Works well.
Smells funny. Works well.

3. Tiger balm comes from the Gods. We’re pretty sure of it. This topical ointment is like Icy Hot on steroids, but smells better. Tiger Balm’s traditional ointments come in three intensity levels. We recommend ULTRA as it’s clear and works a whole lot better than the original. The medium level is an orange/red color. It works also, but will stain clothing and skin. Test a small patch on your skin to get used to the feeling of the “balm” as it can be intense. Also, if you don’t like a clove/cinnamon smell, don’t buy it.

Ultra awesome for sore bones.
Ultra awesome for sore bones.

Tip five isn’t for the lipless. Last, but not least I recommend Carmex for protecting your lips from sun, wind, and other damage. Carmex contains ingredients that soothes lips and promotes healing. I use both the small pot and chap stick version. The chap stick has added SPF for extra sun protection. Carmex works great (at least for me), is cheap, and made right here in Wisconsin!

carmex

We hope our tips can help you in the future and keep you comfortable on the bike. What are your favorite tips for healing wounds or preventative measures that are bike related? Shoot us an e-mail or find us on Facebook to continue the conversation!