I read an article recently on a cycling website about “Labial Swelling.” Guys, before you quit reading, bear with me for a minute; your cyclist girlfriend will much appreciate it. Besides, I have enough guy friends to know you suffer from something similar.
The problem is no one will talk about it. It’s like when you first start dating someone and you don’t want them to think you do something as human as farting. So, you hold it in and the gas just builds up until the pressure has you cross-eyed. Then, after you’ve been together a while, you get a little more comfy with each other and you finally admit it. After a year of controlling your sphincter not to release some air that’s backed up in your intestines, you finally have had enough. Ah, relief at last!
No one took me aside when I started cycling and said, “Okay, here’s what’s going to happen: Your butt is going to hurt. You will get rashes. You will get sores. Certain areas may get very red and swell painfully.”
I’m sorry; to what “areas” would you be referring?
I figure it is my duty to speak frankly – your genital area as well as your butt will get very sore. There, I said it. Please take a minute to blush and be embarrassed…Good, now get over it and let’s discuss this. I am lobbying to “Out” this hush, hush. Anyone that spends any amount of time on a bike is going to experience soreness in lots of areas – including all the spots that come in contact with the saddle.
At this year’s “24 Hours of Booty,” I spent a total of 17 hours in the saddle; a long, long time. By the time it was over and I got home, I was tomato red and swollen from my pubic bone to the top of my butt crack and halfway down my thighs. I had 2 skin ulcerations in the shape of my saddle on my lower cheeks; one on each side. There were several sores situated around my groin muscle. I had all of this despite the application and re-application of chamois lube and changing of shorts throughout the ride. My post ride shower was absolute torture. Cold water cascading over the open sores stung me to tears. Echoes of Phil Ligget calling out riders on the Col du Galibier bellowed in my head, “And here is Jodi Winterton. She has absolutely cracked. Bob, she is in her own personal per-ga-tree!” “Purgatory” sounds about right. I screamed as I applied the soap.
Upon exiting the shower, my significant other was ready with all kinds of remedies; aloe, Solarcain spray, and even Preparation H. And I will tell you, of those three, only the Prep-H didn’t sting like hell. I know what you’re thinking – hemorrhoids? But, actually, Prep-H is for sensitive irritated skin…which was what I had. I lubed up, threw on some loose fitting boxers and lay down on my bed.
Now, it is important for me to include a disclaimer here for a few reasons. Firstly, you are most likely not going to go out and ride 17 hours very often. My case was a bit extreme. You are more likely to experience a little chafing and maybe a small rash, both of which are bearable and very treatable. Secondly, I am not endorsing Preparation-H as a remedy. It happened to be in the house and it felt good, so I used it. Anything to stop the pain.
The point is this: You need to take care of yourself. There are lots of chamois crèmes on the market. Try a few and find a favorite. I like the Assos crème…and not just cuz of its name. It has a menthol tingling feeling when you apply it which keeps you cool on warm days. Remember: cycling is great fun, but at some point you may want to use these areas for more fun than just supporting your weight on a bike. Your significant other will be grateful.
Get the crème! And consider yourself warned.