Protect Your Taint — No Really, It is Important

Distance: 40.11 miles
Time: 2:03:00
Average Watts: 180 watts
Normative Power: 200 watts
Average Heart Rate: 154 bpm
Total Work: 1,347 kJ
Average Speed: 19.56 mph

This ride was this morning and it was tough. I am not sure why, but it was a little slower than my ride yesterday. When I was riding I thought it was a better effort, but my average watts were a little lower today. The wind was about the same and right out of the south, but that shouldn’t impact the average watts. Chalk this up to needing to HTFU (love that company by the way). I have a ride this afternoon with my 401K administrator and that should be interesting. He is coming over ready to fly and my legs are fried.

I did get to spend the rest of the morning at Hoss’ Field Day. He did awesome. He got fourth in his 50 yard dash heat, which was one place out of advancing to the finals. Another parent was congratulating me and I said, “I don’t care if he is the fastest or not. He just needs to hit the hardest.” He will be a mean linebacker someday.

Protecting Your Taint

This post resulted from a request by a friend of mine who has been having issues with her nether region during and after rides. Just a heads-up — this is not a post for the weak. If you are easily offended by people talking about basic anatomy, I suggest you go ahead and skip this post and come back tomorrow. I would love to see you back then. :)

If you spend any time on a bike as a triathlete or cyclist, you know keeping the area that comes into direct contact with your saddle comfortable is imperative. If you don’t take the necessary precautions, you will more than likely come to regret it later in the day. The more frequent you ride and the more distance you are putting in each week, the more likely you are to experience skin problems from the time you spend in the saddle.

What are some of the problems you can experience? For me, if I don’t take good care of the skin under my sit bones, I can get saddle sores. Again, if you are weak of stomach, turn away. These things can go beyond just tender skin. I have gotten that I equate to a zit right there on my sit bones. This isn’t comfortable in the least bit. I have a friend (really, it is a friend and not me), who was in southern Utah for some riding with some friends and he got a saddle sore that abscessed and had to be drained by a doctor. The funny thing about this story is the doctor who treated him was a medical school acquaintance of his little brother. The doctor called the little brother of course and gave him the full report. Funny stuff.

Then there is the taint area on both men and women. If you don’t know where this is, let me explain it this way — taint ’round back and taint ’round front. Understood? Good. No pictures will be forthcoming. For some people this area comes into contact with the saddle as well and if you move around on your saddle a lot, can get chaffed and really start to burn something like a rug burn.

Then comes the area up front. Men and women have different issues here. Because this isn’t a porn site, let me say there isn’t much that goes on here that can’t be solved by the solutions I am going to present shortly. A good saddle fit, tilt, and biking shorts are all you need to solve this issue.

Finally, there are the inner thighs. If you saddle is a little too wide for you then you will find your thighs rub on the side of the saddle as you work your way around the pedal stroke. When I used a wider saddle I found that if I didn’t treat this area that I would get chaffed, even through my bike shorts. Training for a tri and completing bricks each week I would be hating life if I jumped off the bike with chaffed thighs and started running. That never feels good.

Now I am not a medical expert, so those of you who are, feel free to disagree with me on key issues. Like my road rash treatments, these are strategies that I have developed over ten years in triathlon and endurance sports. But I follow these steps religiously and I rarely have skin problems in my undercarriage.

  1. Buy the best bike shorts that are within your budget. Triathletes and cyclists alike need to follow this piece of advice. Never ride your bike without bike shorts on. Don’t wear underwear under your bike shorts. You may need to go through a couple of different brands and styles until you find something that is going to meet your expectations. I used to only only ride my bike in tri shorts that feature a thinner pad, but recently I have transitioned to cycling shorts for bike rides. The pads are thicker and unless I am running, I like the thicker pads now. It may be because I am getting older. This year I started experimenting with Castelli brand shorts and I think I may be in love with them. They are amazing.
  2. Get a saddle that fits. A saddle is a saddle, right? If you think that, you would be dead wrong. Find someone at a reputable bike or tri shop that knows saddles and talk with them about your riding style, your flexibility, and the purpose of your bike. Did you know a triathlon saddle is different from a cycling saddle? You may have to go through two or even three saddles before you find one that fits you. Your butt is worth it.
  3. Always wear clean shorts. Sounds silly, but I know guys who recycle shorts and will wear them two or three times before they are washed. Not only is this nasty — they really start to smell — it is really unsanitary. The bacteria that can grown in a wet pair of shorts that are drying off from your ride would astound you. So in this case and only in this case, NEVER RECYCLE. That is a recipe for disaster.
  4. Pre-ride, lube up. Now I don’t lube up for every ride, but I do for any ride over 30 miles. I have used about every lube known to man. My two favorites are Chamois Butt’r and DZ Nuts. Both work well, but I think DZ Nuts is my preferred cream because it is a little thicker and seems like it has a little more staying power. When buying them, always buy the bottle and not the jar. If someone needs to some before a ride, I would never allow a double dip — ’nuff said. I put it on thick and instead of putting it onto the chamois, I put it directly onto my skin. I put it right on my inner thighs, taint, my boys, and then on the sit bones.
  5. Practice Post-ride Care. Always wash your undercarriage with soap and water after a ride. If I feel any chaffing at all, I will liberally apply Bag Balm. If you don’t know what this stuff is, you should. Originally designed to soften and treat chaffing on udders of cows (no, really), it has anti-bacterial properties and conditioners in it. I put it on the skin my my sit bones all the time and I rarely have saddle sores anymore. I think this is an amazing product and can be found on Amazon here. I get my at the local COOP, where they sell it to soften cow udders. It is cheap and really works well.
  6. If you want an iron butt, ride lots. There is only one way for you to not hurt when sitting in the saddle and that is to spend more time in the saddle. There is no secret here.

If you do get a saddle sore, Erythromycin is reported the best treatment. I haven’t ever used it and only stick to the bag balm, but it supposedly is the absolute best. I put in about 250 miles a week on my bike on average and will put in 300 a week for the next three months, so stopping saddle sores and any type of skin discomfort is imperative if I want to maintain my mileage and training.

If you have other suggestions or strategies, post them under the comments!

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...