View Full Version : an embarrassing question.

July 17th, 2003, 08:29 AM
:( This directed to all the women out there who ride bikes in Triathlons.
How can you prevent the total soreness between your legs (you know what l mean) after a long bike ride? l have noticed that l get so damm sore right down there when l go for long distances. l have a Triathlon this comming Sunday and l am still a little sore. Is there anything that I am doing wrong? Is it the seat? Is it the hight of the seat? Please, please, l need some feed back on this subject. l love doing this, but, my God! it hurts!!!!!!!!!!!! Please, fellow women Triathlets, give me some sugestions on this subject. l will for ever be grateful! l know that the bike seats are not the most comfortable ones in the world but this is so ridiculous. Also, l am going to buy some biking shorts, some with a little padding. The ones l ride with have no padding. Maybe this is the problem. l dont know. Any way, thanks for any information on this.

July 17th, 2003, 02:55 PM

Could be all of the above! Check the seat height -- when I bought my triathlon bike it was fitted at the shop. Check the type of seat -- the shop installed a not too expensive seat that had some gel in it. Also, gradually increasing the amount of time spent on the bike will decrease the soreness. Spending an unprecedentedly long time on the bike usually will result in soreness.


jean sterling
July 17th, 2003, 06:18 PM
I think you will find that the padded bike shorts will help. Also, you might consider buying some kind of a gel seat cover for you bike seat.

jim thornton
July 18th, 2003, 12:08 AM

Not a woman, but a magazine writer. I recently did a story on new research about bike seats and nerve/blood vessel damage. This topic was pretty big several years ago, when Dr. Irwin Goldstein, a Boston Univ. urologist, first published data linking bike riding to male impotence.

His work, largely lambasted by USA Biking, Triathlon, etc., was criticized as being based on too small a sample. Since then, however, several other studies have come to similar (rather scarey) conclusions. For example, researchers analyzed data from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, which has followed 1709 randomly selected men age 40-70. After adjusting for age, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, and other factors, researchers found men who rode their bikes a mere 3 hours or more per week had a 72 percent higher risk of impotence than the general male population.

In a second study, scientists from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, responding to complaints of genital numbness in bicycle cops averaging 5.4 hours a day "in the saddle," undertook a comparison of biking and non-biking officers in Long Beach, California. Among other things, the researchers measured saddle pressures and subsequent nocturnal erections during sleep, a normal phenomenon in healthy men. Their findings: cycling cops averaged 40 percent fewer erectile events per sleep cycle than non-cyclists, and the magnitude of individual reduction correlated directly with how many days a week they rode, how many hours per day, and how much average pressure they exerted on the nose of the bike saddle.

The gist of the anti-conventional bike saddle argument: when a rider "straddles a saddle," he or she is not sitting on the sit bones (or "ischial tuberosities" in medical terminology) that we bipeds evolved in our butts to safely cushion our body weight. Because of narrow saddle design, our weight is distributed instead on the base of our genital tracts, including the tube-like Alcock's canal through which course the nerves and arteries that supply the penis and clitoris.

"Why would any rational human being want to put a 150 lb. weight on these structures?" asks Goldstein. Over time, he maintains, chronic pressure can trigger everything from perineal numbness, to shooting pains in the pudendal nerves, to reduced oxygen flow and localized atherosclerosis in genital arteries resulting in erectile dysfunction in men and anorgasmia in women.

Unfortunately, the much hyped bike seats with the hollowed out center lines don't help. Goldstein told me he thinks those might even exacerbate the problem, because pressure is lbs. per square inch, and these seats simply remove some of the "square inches", making the pressure of sitting even higher on the areas that still contact the seat.

My article came out a couple months ago in National Geographic Adventure. The main recommendation was to get a seat specially designed for the sit bones--something most hardcore bikers are reluctant to do, because these make it hard to use your thighs to help "steer" the bike. (Plus these seats look dorky, one friend told me.) The other recommendation is to try to stand up on your bike frequently to relieve the pressure. It's funny, but people who work out on stationary bikes often have an even worse problem because they almost never "stand up" while peddling.

Good luck!

July 18th, 2003, 12:23 AM
Padded shorts and Gel Seat.

July 19th, 2003, 07:03 PM
I use the bike seat with the hollowed out center and find it more comfortable than any other seat that I have used. I also keep my rides short, nothing over 2 hours, and stand up at regular intervals. I read the article that Jim cited, I think it was several years ago that it appeared in a bicycling magazine. You can't be scared by all these studies. Many people are riding and not suffering those problems. Make sure your bike is sized right for you, wear padded shorts, and try some different saddles. Terry makes them specifically for women. PS, are you watching the Tour d France on OLN TV, the commentators, Phil, Paul and Rob teach a lot about the sport during the shows. Keep on riding. Cathy

jim thornton
July 20th, 2003, 10:19 AM
I stand by what I wrote before. I think there is a great deal of denial in the hardcore biking community. True, not everyone has problems. But the person who started the "an embarrassing question" thread clearly IS having problems.

Here's an excerpt from my article that maria might want to check out:

Be skeptical about any narrow saddle with a nose, even if they sport "cut outs" allegedly designed to reduce perineal pressures. "It's a fantasy," says Goldstein, "that cutting a hole into a traditional saddle does anything but worsen the situation." A much better alternative, he says, are the new generation of noseless, two-cheek seats including the Easy Seat ( www.hobsonseats.com ); the Seat ( www.ergo-theseat.com ); and the BiSaddle ( www.bycycleinc.com )

Note from Jim: If you check these seats out, be prepared for a certain geeky appearance. Again, you won't be able to "steer" the bike with your things because these new style seats do not have a nose. However, if you are suffering pain and numbness in your nether regions after bike riding, you might want to consider looking a bit dorky in order to feel a lot better.

Sandy McNeel
July 20th, 2003, 10:03 PM
The "Padded shorts and Gel Seat" is good advice.
I use a Lady's Italia seat, somewhat streamlined but not too much. It does have a slit in the center, but I can't say what make this seat comfortable and the best I have had. I used to have a nice fat cushy seat, but the Italia one is more comfortable. At the other extreme, I tried a sleek hard racing seat that came with my new bike. That seat was gone within a week. Ouch.
I recommend expensive Pearl Izumi bike shorts or the equivalent. One day I did a 100-mile training ride in old mountain bike shorts I had. It was miserable. I never found a comfortable spot on the bike to sit, and I paid for it for days afterwards. Two weeks later I rode a 200-mile bike ride in my Pearl Izumi road bike shorts and felt fine, or relatively fine, considering everything hurt a bit after that distance.