Chamois leather used in cycling shorts looked like this only once, before the first washing. After that one had to slather cream onto it to attempt to restore it to its former soft smoothness, which was impossible. I have written a reverence article on chamois cream and I vowed then to never google “saddle sore images” again, hence a beautiful image of chamois leather. @optimiste remembers this nice smooth leather and all that comes after it.
Your in Cycling, Gianni
Although Looking Fantastic is de rigueur for all Velominati, it is not about adopting a certain style as would a poseur. Rather, it is a byproduct of continually pursuing and applying previously unimaginable doses of The V. The Rules are a guide along this path, but they are not The V, and will not by themselves make one Look Fantastic. Essentially, it’s what’s on the inside that counts.
The same can be said for one’s cycling shorts (or bib shorts, which I prefer). In my formative years, I was fortunate enough to be mentored in all things cycling by a friend’s older brother, who ALWAYS looked fantastic, and is still the benchmark I use in that regard. When I donned my first pair of cycling shorts (made of natural materials, before they were considered retro), he was quick to advise me on how to stop embarrassing myself. His advice was akin to the 1980 Calvin Klein Jeans commercial featuring Brooke Shields: “You wanna know what comes between me and my chamois? Nothing.” I got the point and ditched the underpants/briefs/tighty-whities (which I believe were also made of natural materials).
Nearly thirty-five years later, that advice has served me well. In fact, last season was the first time I ever developed a saddle sore. Looking back, I can trace its occurrence to simultaneously acquiring new bib shorts and a new saddle shape at the start of the season. At first, I thought I was experiencing muscle pain in the groinish area, but stretching didn’t help a bit.
Next, I used a mirror to examine the area in question, which I must say was not at all pleasant. It was clear I had developed a subcutaneous cyst, on the verge of erupting. In all my years of cycling, I had never really used chamois cream with any regularity, but soon became a product tester of just about every brand out there. I wish I could say the Assos stuff was inordinately expensive (so I could quip they should call it Assos for Asses), but it wasn’t. DZ Nuts cost more per ounce and the camphor often made me wonder if I was inadvertently applying embrocation cream to my nether region. Chamois Butt’r was half the cost and seemed to provide some relief, so I slathered it on by the handful. But as with the others, the saddle sore remained.
It was mid-season by now, so taking an extended break from riding was not an option. The greatest relief came by following a teammate’s advice he had received from a former pro he used to ride with.
Teammate: “After every ride, get out of your shorts ASAP and either shower or use baby wipes to clean the undercarriage.”
Me: “No problem.”
Teammate: “Go commando (naked) at bedtime to let things air dry.”
Teammate: “And most importantly, after showering, apply copious amounts of Gold Bond Extra Strength Medicated Body Powder (the one in the green bottle).”
Me: “Isn’t that for old or sweaty people?”
Full disclosure: I have no financial interest in this product or its manufacturer, just that it’s awesome.
In less than two weeks, the saddle sore relented; however on rides longer than 120 kilometers, I would still feel a twinge of discomfort return. It wasn’t until early spring this year, while inspecting my bib shorts, when I noticed an unusual wear spot on the edge of the chamois. The chamois turned out to be slightly smaller than my previous one, and it seems I not only dress left, but also ride a bit left in the saddle as well. Purchasing new bibs wasn’t an immediate option, so I pushed the saddle back a touch and removed the chamois edge from the equation. Complete relief at last.
I use chamois cream (of various brands) regularly now, but in far less quantities. I am thinking of buying stock in Gold Bond. And since I’m not constantly bothered by the pain of a saddle sore, I can focus on applying The V, as I willingly enter the pain cave, in my continuing pursuit of Looking Fantastic from the inside-out.