It’s spring! It’s time to ride!
But, wait. What’s that we hear? Complaining? Sore muscles, aching neck and shoulders, saddle sores? It’s true, those first rides of the season can be uncomfortable. And any time you increase your saddle time, you can see some muscle discomfort as your body gets accustomed to the work. One thing we hear from women is that they don’t ride more because they are not that comfortable on the bike.
Here are four things you can do to improve your comfort when riding your bicycle.
We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again. Taking the time to make sure your bike fits you will reap benefits in the long run. Issues like neck, shoulder, or knee pain, or tingling in the hands or feet could well be the result of a poorly fitted bike. Investing the money—and let’s face it, it’s not cheap—in having your bike adjusted to you by a trained professional is really worth it. It can enable you to ride more comfortably, longer, and faster. Ignoring pain or numbness can lead to injury.
For some, it’s second nature to spend the winter on an indoor trainer. For others, the bike goes into storage in the fall and doesn’t see the light of day until the peepers are peeping again. If this is you, be sure to take it slow as you reintroduce your body to riding a bike. The biggest mistake people make is to overestimate where their training is at the beginning of the season. You go out hot and fast, and end up with overused muscles that need time off the bike to heal up. Do yourself a favor and ease into the season.
Wearing comfortable, well-fitting, and well-constructed clothing can make all the difference to your comfort on the bike. A mistake a lot of women make is to neglect to replace shorts or bibs. Yes, quality shorts can be expensive and you want to make them last, but the reality is that those chamois panels do wear out over time. If it’s been a few years, it might be time to retire the old ones and replace them. Note that the chamois of women’s and men’s shorts are designed differently because of the different pressure points of the female and male pelvis on the bike seat.
Your Delicate Flower
Okay, this is the question everyone asks. What to do about the chafing that can occur on your nethers after a long day in the saddle? Going back to that chamois, make sure it’s in decent condition. The chamois panel in your bike shorts is designed to keep friction and moisture to a minimum, which is why underwear under the bike shorts is a bad idea. Saddle sores result when bacteria get into abraded skin. So wearing a quality chamois that is in good condition and clean can help prevent saddle sores. But sometimes sores happen anyway, which is where chamois cream comes in. There are lots of brands. The idea is you spread a small amount in a thin layer on your skin where it tends to get irritated, and it minimizes the friction that causes chafing and sores.
And as for those tired muscles that aren’t used to riding yet, rest assured that they will get with the program as spring turns to summer and you’re able to Get Out and Ride!
Do you have tips to staying comfortable on your bike? Share them in our comments sections!