06/27/2006|0 comments by Max Shute, Ph.D., CTS Coach
To non-cyclists, cycling culture can sometimes be quite perplexing.
To non-cyclists, cycling culture can sometimes be quite perplexing, if n <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?> ot all out shocking. Men shaving their legs! Men wearing shiny and tight Lycra shorts! <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
Some of our quirks are admittedly unnecessary ? like our need to always take scenic and lightly-traveled back roads to get anywhere ? but some d o have merit. Case in point: chamois cream for cycling shorts. I use it because it pr ovides lubricati on t o a part of the body that can, at times, bec ome quite sore and raw after several h ours in the saddle. And let me tell you, that?s the last place on your body you want feeling like that.
Today, chamois cream is a bit of a misnomer because advances in fabrics and padding have led to much better synthetic, anti-bacterial alternatives to the stiffening leather patches of yore. Way back in the day, up until about the 1980s, chamois cream was used to soften the leather after it had dried fr om a washing.
As it happened, one side-benefit to spreading cream all over your shorts before a ride was that it also lubricated your hide and thus kept chafing at bay. Some old-schoolers will tell y ou that using cham ois cream now is silly, and to an extent they are correct; we certainly don?t need t o s often up t oday?s synthetic cham ois pads. But it?s the skin-saving, anti-chafing properties that keep chamois creams in use today.
If y ou spend significant time in the saddle y ou most likely suffer at s ome level due to the fricti on of a cycling pad on your skin, and you should consider trying out a cream. Choose s omething thick that contains a low water content ? charmois creams with higher water content are simply absorbed by the chamois. You don?t want that. You want it to stay between your skin and the pad and act as a lubricant. Also, go with a product containing a blend of silicone and anti-bacterial agents. Friction Zone from Brave S oldier is a good example of a cream with all three properties.
How much d o y ou apply and when? Each brand will recommend that you basically slather your behind and crotch wherever your pad touches your skin. That?s a good starting point, but you may find you don?t need to go quite that far. As long as the major fricti on points?sit bones, inner thighs, and crotch?are well lubed y ou?re getting all the protection you need. That said, you can only g o wr ong by applying t oo little. And don?t forget that you have to put the cream on before you ride (Seriously, it needs to be said). as these pr oducts w on?t heal saddle s ores and irritations. They do, however,