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 Pt. 2

seatbagpt2

It’s about time we rolled out another What’s In Your Seat Bag?

Most of these items wouldn’t fit in a standard under saddle bag, but they would be stellar additions to a pannier, rack top bag, or a saddle trunk. These items come with us on any ride outside of comfortable walking distance or if we’re going to be out in the boonies.

Starting from the upper left hand side and going across we start with the Go Girl. For ladies, this little gadget will improve your life exponentially! The Go Girl allows you to stand up and use the bathroom. No squatting necessary and not oops moments that require clean up. We especially love the Go Girl while wearing bibs. Not many bib short makers allow for you to drop trou easily. The Go Girl is made out of a soft silicone material and comes in a handy carrying case. Usually all you need is a little squirt of water to rinse it off before rolling it up and you’re good to go!
Bonus: Take this gadget camping, to festivals, travel trips, and anywhere where the bathroom situation may be sketchy.

Next is the Bontrager windshell vest. We LOVE our hi-vis vests as they add a light-weight, breathable layer that lets us stick out safely in traffic. This particular vest packs down very small and can be placed in a jersey pocket easily. Our vests have been worn in all temperature ranges and have never let us down. The vest isn’t water proof, but is very water resistant and dries quickly. They also come in handy for fall riding through the woods or on rail trails. Staying bright is important if you live in a state where hunting is a popular sport!

Hoo Ha! The name is silly, but we wouldn’t recommend anything else. Our big bottles of Hoo Ha come with us on all our long group rides. Men and women enjoy this chamois cream as it uses all natural ingredients, has a really nice aroma, and has a nice cooling sensation. Reflect Sports, the makers of Hoo Ha are a woman owned company and they make all their products in the USA! Check them out at our link to the right on our page. They sell large bottles of the chamois cream or handy mini packs for tossing into a seat pack or jersey pocket.

While out on the open road or trail, there’s nothing more comforting than knowing you have a good pump. Getting a flat on a ride is never fun, but Lezyne’s Micro Floor Drive is the next best thing to having your full size pump with you. The Micro Floor Drive allows you to inflate both presta and shrader valves, boasts a pressure guage, and is fully rebuild-able. Your forearms will thank you the next time you get a flat with this pump!

T9 Boeshield has found many uses in our house, but it’s also a fantastic chain lube. You know that person on your ride who always seems to have the squeaky bike? Do them a favor and bring a little of this or some Phil’s Lube with you next time. T9 has been used this in a pinch on creaky pedals, bottom brackets, and other moving parts.

First Aid Kits. They come in so handy and they are so worth their weight! We’ve used everything from the shown Johnson & Johnson basic kit to Adventure Medical’s more comprehensive kits. Even the D.I.Y bandages with wet wipes have helped clean some scrapes. Crashes happen a lot more than we’d like to admit. A first aid kit really helped us out last weekend when Cassandra wrecked her arm and needed to clean out the dirt & debris. Bandages and alcohol pads are great, but throw in some travel size ibuprofen, antihistamine, and anti-diarrhea meds to cover all your bases.

All of these items are fantastic to have in your arsenal whether you’re a casual rider, roadie, or hardcore commuter. We’ll continue this post series where we integrate some lifestyle products and even some bike camping S240 (sub 24 hour trip) gear. It’s easy to escape city life with just a few essential items!

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!

Madison CycloFemme Photo Dump

We had a fantastic time at the Madison CycloFemme ride. There were 35 riders at the event total. Not bad for our very first one! The event coinciding with Mother’s Day always seems to be a gamble as far as attendance, but we were glad to see over half of the actual RSVP’d women attend.

The weather was in the low to mid 40’s and a bit chilly, but we made it all 18 miles with no issues! Lots of riders were new to the group environment, but seemed to enjoy themselves. It puts smiles on our faces thinking that we have given these women a chance to experience cycling in a fun and social environment.

CycloFemme will hopefully open the door to more events like this and maybe even a recurring Sunday morning monthly ride. We want to thank all the women who came out to the event. It was a pleasure meeting all of you and we hope to see you in the future!

A HUGE thank you goes out to the Froth House and their staff for hosting us. We also want to thank Saris Cycling Group for donating a parking rack for us to use at the event as well as a Bones 3 rack for the raffle. Thank you’s go out to Hoo Ha Ride Glide, Team Luna Chix, and to everyone who helped promote the event.

Last, but not least, we have to thank CycloFemme and Girl Bike Love for creating such an amazing movement to try and get more women on bikes. We’re grateful for the effort and the inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the women (who are mamas) in our lives and go ride a bike!

Gravel Crushin’

The Almanzo 100 (aka super crazy, famous gravel race in Minnesota) is a mere 20 days away. Neither me or Keri have had the time to truly put in a good amount of miles in the saddle. In all honesty, we’ll be glad if we finish half of it, but have made a pact to ride until it stops being fun. Whether that’s 40 miles or the whole 100, we shall see.

If we’re taking vacation days and spending money on a hotel room, we need to make sure both of us have fun doing whatever it is we are doing, otherwise the trip isn’t worth while. Fortunately neither of us are really wanting to participate in the race because of it’s “epic-ness”, but rather because it involves riding in a scenic setting with a bunch of other bike lovers. We’ll also be there along with the Midwestern Saris/CycleOps rep to promote the company. Saris graciously donated a heap of product for those who podium in various divisions of the race.

Today we decided to go ride one of our local rail trails to get in some gravel like riding in before the event. Most of our local trails are crushed limestone, but Glacial Drumlin has a section that deviates from the regular trail and has more loose chunky gravel. Having a few variations makes for more interesting riding. I personally haven’t ridden on the country roads of Southern Minnesota, but I’m guessing it’s not all nicely groomed and packed down dirt.

Another reason for the ride was to test our personal setups for the event. Keri is riding her steel Fuji touring bike with a rack and one pannier. I’ll be riding my Raleigh RX 1.0 with a Banjo Brothers Waterpoof Saddle Trunk, Jaand Frame Pack, and a Banjo Brothers Top Tube bag.

Each of our packing lists will include the following:
-2 waterbottles (may bring a third for good measure)
-1 camelbak
-1 pump
-tire levers
-tube
-patch kit
-chain tool
-park hex tool wrenches
-FixIt sticks (w/flat head)
-cycling computer
-iPhone
-pocket knife
-rechargeable headlight
-taillight
-back up small headlight (battery op)
-rain jacket
-hi vis packable vest
-arm warmers
-tube of NUUN hydration tablets & probably some Skratch labs mix
-a few packs Clif Bloks w/caffeine in various flavors
-Kind Bars for snacking
-Almond butter packets for snacking
-Road ID bracelet
-Joule GPS cycling computer (as back up, doesn’t give turn by turn directions, but has a little bit of a breadcrumbs feature in case we take a wrong turn- traditional GPS is not allowed, maps and cuesheets only!)
-cue clip
-aaa batteries & 2032 batteries
-small first aid kit w/ibuprofen & antacids
-Hoo Ha ride glide (best chamois cream EVER)
-Go Girl (so we can pee standing up with bibs on…a really awesome invention)
-tissue
-trowel (we’ll be in the woods)
-sunscreen
-lip balm
-sunglasses
-helmet
-cycling clothes & shoes

The list is long and short at the same time. The Almonzo is an unsupported race, so there are no aid stations with food or water on the route. As far as we know there are only 2 possible locations for stopping for food and to refill water. Hopefully it’s not blazing hot or cold and rainy. We’ll have to call for back up if we need to bail from the route.

Overall, I think we’re both excited to be a part of something fun and unique like the Almanzo. There’s about 1300 folks signed up for the race. I’m guessing about 1100 will actually show up, but maybe less. We’ll most likely start at the back of the pack since we’re not looking for glory and the caboose of a ride/race is always more fun over a long distance 🙂

Check the photos below of our adventures!