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!

What’s In Your Seat Bag?- 1st Edition

seatbagEvery cyclist should have some sort of emergency kit or way of fixing a flat when out on a ride. We always preach that even if you don’t know how to fix your own flat, there’s someone out there who does. Ride prepared!

These are a few items we choose to carry on our bikes at all times, no matter where we’re headed.

From left to right:

-Glueless tube patches
These are an easy, quick fix should you pinch flat or run over something sharp. It’s also a good idea to carry a wet wipe or hand sanitizer to clean off the area you plan on sticking the patch to.

-Crank brothers speedier lever
Out off all the tires levers we’ve tried (up to this point) this is one of the easiest to use. All you need is one vs. the standard 2/3 pack sets. This lever allows you to remove or install any kind of tire with ease. Crank brothers even has a video that shows how simple the Speedier lever is to use!

-Standard Patch Kit
Vulcanizing patch kits do require a little more time and patience to use, but they do a better job of sealing off holes. You can also utilize the sealant to mend not only tubes, but tire gashes as well.

-Park Chain Tool
Chain tools seem to be one of those items where it’s really worth investing in a nice one. I’m pretty sure we’ve killed 3 chain tools before wising up and buying our trusty Park Tool one. You never know what will happen on a long ride. If your derailleur fails or something happens with your chain, you want to have the option to rock your bike singlespeed to get you home or to have the option to fix it if possible.

-Extra chain linksWhen you get a new chain on your bike, there’s usually going to be some extra links. Manufacturers tend to sell chains with excess links rather than not enough. If you take your bike into a shop, ask them to hold on to the extras in case you need to do a roadside repair. Use your chain tool to push out the link pin most of the way and connect in the new links if needed!

-Fix It sticks
The Fix It sticks have replaced two tools that used to be carried. One was a full on hex set and the other was a Swiss army knife with a couple of screw heads. This particular set of sticks has the correct size allen heads and flat head to make adjustments to our bikes. There are various options for heads depending on what your needs are. They have come in quite handy this summer!

-Chamois Cream
Having extra chamois cream around is great. Sometimes you don’t expect to go for a long ride or your friend may have forgotten theirs at home. We’ve used Hoo Ha for years and love it. We’ve used it as an anti-chafe cream for running, for the bra line area, used after long hikes where there was pant rub, and of course on long bike rides. This particular cream smells nice and has good healing properties. It’s also parabin free for those who don’t want sketchy ingredients in/on their bodies.

-Bike Tube
Patch kits are somewhat of a last resort in our camp as we like carrying an extra tube. Of course if we get multiple flats or two flats at once, the patch kits come in handy. The general rule of thumb we like to advise is, carry a tube that is either a little smaller width wise for your tire or the exact recommended size. You can always use a 23-25mm tube for a 28-32mm tire, but you can’t really use a 35mm width tube on a 28mm tire. Get what we’re saying? (feel free to ask questions)

That’s all for this edition of “What’s in Your Seat Bag?”. We’ll continue these posts with some less essential recommendations. There are different items for different types of riding and situations that can come up. Feel free to share with us your photos and recommendations for what to carry on the road!

SIDE BAR: Many folks would say- what? no pump. We do generally carry a pump, but we view this more as if you were stranded with other cyclists or out on the road…this is the bare minimum of what you would need to get going. That’s assuming there is air nearby. A presta to schrader valve converter is also a handy item to have as well. If you don’t know what that is, Google it or ask your local shop. We forgot to include that in the photo!