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The Dark Side of the Moon

simonsaunders's picture
on Sun, 14/09/2014 - 20:57

An unusual title for a blog post i'll grant you, but it will all become painfully obvious as you read on.

Now, lunar observation doesn't have much to do with cycling; not I guess unless you are an astrological follower, who only rides when the Moon is in the seventh house and Jupiter is aligned with Mars (musical joke). I guess it better than when there are rings around Uranus.

And, thats really where this post is heading- The dark side of your moon.

Those of you who have talked to me on rides may know that i'm on my third saddle of the year. This is not because I like collectng and trying saddles, but mainly because I felt I had never found the right saddle for me.

It should be such a simple thing really, a comfy perch from which to turn your legs, something that although small shouldn't give you grief. Well, it seems an easy thing to pick, there are hundreds of saddles online, all described in various amazing tones- honestly you'd think some of them were like riding around in such comfort it was like having a constant gentle massage on your under-carriage (Selle-Italia; Massagio). However, in reality they are just a hard piece of plastic roughly shaped like the reverse of an arse with some padding on. And they can cause some damage!

I have had a few chats with riders about this, and today a further one , which prompted this post. It's about time it was brought out and we should feel free to talk about it in public. So here we go. you will be relieved to know I have not included some of the "better" images of this problem available on the internet. Some of you may be eating!

Saddle sores, Perineal abrasions, Chamois rub, Bollock Blisters whatever you call them, they often call on cyclists more than once. I for one had a lovely example in my left perineum for around 2 months this year. For me the cause was obvious. It happened after a very wet ride, a damp chamois and there you go! Sadly once it happens it can be hard to get rid of them. The tried and tested solution is to stay off the bike and let it settle down, but who wishes to do that, lose all that form and start lagging behind the group for a few weeks? So we MTFU, apply loads of chamois cream and ride the next week- which in the end just perpetuates the situation. And they hurt. You can't get comfortable on the saddle. Constantly shifting your weight away from the hot-spot.

You do the chamois dance

I have no wish to go into the mechanics of how to prevent these occuring in the first place, there are lots of posts and pages on the net about this. Essentially, get fitted, use cream and wash your kit seem to be the nuts and bolts of it.

I was more interested in sharing what to do if you do have one, how can you treat it so they go quickly?

One of the joys of being the Doctor on a charity ride, like the London to Paris ride i have done the last few years for Diabetes UK, is that people tell you what's wrong with them. This is also an occasional disadvantage! Well amongst the fun this year was a crop of saddle sores in the those unsused to riding 70+ mile for 3 consecutive days. 

So i had to find something that worked and kept people on the bike and able to ride. After a little research I think i may have stumbled upon the perfect combination of things to keep you all riding and get those sores healed. The sore that look something like this are very common



Tasty eh?

Anyway, these are not dissimilar to the teenage acne you may have been misfortunate to have been afflicted by. In essence an area of skin has become inflammed and the body sends immune cells there to deal with it. They can and often do lead to small amount of pus formation. These can discharge spontaneously or just gradually resolve- but much like acne- if you irritate the (ride your bike)- they tend to keep going!

So what to do? 

Here is my professional (and personal) tip list.

1- I will assume you have a good chamois in your shorts and the saddle is appropriate. In that case Chamois cream the perineum before riding, but use it sparingly:over-moist areas are just as bad.

2- If you have a sore, then my top tip is Anusol+HC (see the link). You can't buy it off the shelf, so you will have to order it online or TALK to the pharmacist at the chemist, it costs about £5 and will last you for ages.  Use it twice a day, a small amount on the affected area. Once it dries and shrinks down leave it alone.

3- Good old SUDOCREM, is excellent after a ride, its mildy antibacterial and soothing. If it can sort out nappy rash in 24 hours it can sort out you perineum!

3. LANACANE (available off the shelf) is good if you have chafing issues.

And finally, if it is starting to look like this - then please go seek some proper medical attention. 


I hope that prevents some of you suffering in silence! If you fancy a chat on a ride, your condition will remain anonymous!

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