Author Topic: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition  (Read 10377 times)

Sailor Sam

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Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« on: June 07, 2015, 11:08:35 AM »
Hey Y’all, can I talk to you about my groin, and how it is suffering on my bike? Thanks.

I got my first saddle sore about a year ago. It showed up right in the inner crease of my leg, which was surprisingly painful. I stopped riding while it healed, but then I got another, and another, then one on the opposite side. I recently moved, and my commute has dropped from a hot and sweaty 11 miles roundtrip to a cool and breezy 6 miles. I hoped it would solve the problem, but the sores are still rearing their ugly heads.

Here are the steps I’ve taken over the past year, in chronological order:

1. Started showering immediately after getting home in the afternoon;

2. Started washing groin with Hibiclnse when showering;

3. Stopped wearing underwear while riding. This experiment pretty much eliminated underoos and I found it unsustainable. (sidebar: sticking pants zip in lady friend’s face and yodeling ‘no drawers below!’ is wife-repelling instead of wife-attracting. FYI, friend);

4. Bought a new saddle. The stock saddle was starting to degrade, and I thought the ridiculous amount of flare in the wings might be part of the problem.

These steps may have reduced the frequency, but it hasn't eliminated the problem. My next step is to get some padded bike shorts. If that doesn’t solve it, there is a shower at work where I could rinse off after the morning ride. But both of those steps would be a huge hassle for a short 20 minute ride. Has this happened to anyone else? What the hell did you do?

kendallf

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2015, 11:44:45 AM »
You've already mentioned it.  Padded shorts and a shower.  I ride pretty much every day and I get saddle sores perhaps once every year or two.  I can't remember the last one.  I'm sure some people are more prone to them than others, but you can fix it.  :-)

G-dog

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2015, 11:56:35 AM »
I haven't gotten saddle sores, but did experience some interesting numbness (then invigorating tingling when the Pffected area started waking up) - but adjusting the seat angle fixed that. So it might be something to consider.

spokey doke

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2015, 06:25:04 PM »
Bike shorts are definitely in order.

If there is still any chaffing, chamois butter.

Le Poisson

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2015, 07:23:11 PM »
I haven't gotten saddle sores, but did experience some interesting numbness (then invigorating tingling when the Pffected area started waking up) - but adjusting the seat angle fixed that. So it might be something to consider.

Numbness/tickling. Yes.

30 km lose sensation in my left hand. 40 km, lose left foot shortly after, frank and beans join the 'away' group.

I find a stretching break every 15 minutes or so usually breaks up the pattern. Funny that its all on the left side (except the genitalia which is nicely centered), but beyond pins and needles and general numbness, its nothing to sweat. Good tip on the saddle though - I'll try adjusting that, and new handle grips are already on order.

Retire-Canada

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2015, 09:16:58 PM »
I'd get a saddle that works with your butt instead of padded bike shorts. Bike shorts are a band aid solution. A saddle that works for you is a lifetime of trouble free cycling.

You also need to wash when you get to work. Doesn't have to be a shower, but some soap, water and a wash cloth. And swap in fresh underwear for what you wore for the ride in.

frugaliknowit

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2015, 08:38:44 AM »

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2015, 08:49:38 AM »
I'm female.  I've tried various saddles.  Bottom line (ha, pun wasn't intended) for me is anything over 5 miles and I need to wear padded shorts.  Anything over 10, I need to add Vaseline too.  Always change as soon as possible after the ride and wash the important parts.  That said, I did padded shorts plus vaseline for a 10 miler a couple of weekends ago and immediately went for lunch after still in the padded shorts and had no problem.  Good shorts will have a chamois that wicks the moisture away from your private parts and deep into the shorts.  When you walk after you will feel like you are wearing a diaper but your parts will feel so much better, at least for me.

Regarding the note above about issues on the left and not the right, I deal with the same thing.  If I skip the padded shorts or lube the irritation is on the left side.   No fun.

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2015, 08:53:57 AM »
The checklist that's worked for me:

1. Saddle fit. Is it the right width for your sit bones. You want it just wide enough to support your sit bones. Too wide leads to chafing and numbness on insides of legs. Too narrow usually means numbness in the groin.

2. Saddle position. Even with the right saddle, tiny adjustments in mm front-back or degrees of tilt can make a huge difference. If your seat post and saddle don't allow these adjustments, get one that does.

3. Ride more. Ride through the sores unless they're actually infected.

4. Synthetic underwear (boxer briefs that fit snugly). Cheaper than bike shorts and, like Vikb pointed out, padded shorts aren't addressing the root cause.

5. I haven't tried the chamois butters. What's worked for me ever since I did incredibly sweaty outdoors work in loads of PPE was sprinkling liberal amounts of Gold Bond body powder down my underwear.

Hygiene is important, but moisture control is the critical issue when it comes to the bacteria that cause the sores. Hence the underwear and butt powder. And don't try baby powder. Combing the perfume scent of it and sweat is just an awful combination and isn't nearly as effective as the Gold Bond.

GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2015, 09:29:59 AM »
I find that riding further than 20 km in regular underwear and shorts in hot weather causes saddle sores because of friction and rubbing.  Bike shorts prevent this.  They stay in one place and wick sweat away from you.  I've had no issues just wearing a good pair of bike shorts and doing 60 km rides.

Immediately after you get off your bike, shower.  Bike shorts wick sweat away from you as air passes over them.  If you stop sweating and air isn't passing over them, they actually hold sweat against your nether regions.  If you leave sweat soaked bike shorts on while wandering around the house for a couple hours, you're creating great conditions for bacterial growth . . . which is likely to lead to sores.

Advice to make a saddle sore worse and infected is idiotic.  You can go from pretty mild discomfort to deep pain and serious infection requiring medical treatment by following this approach.

mskyle

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2015, 10:45:34 AM »
I need to "air out" after a hot ride... For me, this means wearing a skirt or dress and adopting a "wide stance" at my cube for the first 30 minutes or so after I get to work. Sounds like you're a guy, so maybe that won't work for you, but maybe loose trousers might help?

I think the padding is not as important on bike shorts as is the lack of seams in delicate areas.

TrMama

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2015, 12:02:23 PM »
In addition to all the other advice, I'd pop into a bike shop and ask them for a fitting. If your bike doesn't fit you, no amount of new saddle/padded shorts/butter/etc will make much of a difference.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2015, 09:48:41 AM »
Thanks for weighing in everybody!

Re: saddle fit. I actually have gone to a bike store, and tested out several saddles, and made sure my bike fit. The saddle I'm currently using feels like riding a cloud of awesome, yet I still get those angry pustules of misery.

I'm going to try the Gold Bonds Mr. Chief recommended. If that doesn't work, then it's bike shorts. They might be a band-aid, but maybe they are the right band-aid for the job. If I have to start rinsing off twice a day, my bike commuting will be dead. I've already got dry skin that objects to every day showering. So I'd also have to add some sort of lotion routine to the pot. Once that starts, my ridiculous effort quotient will be overcome. But I haven't given up yet.


GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2015, 12:21:14 PM »
Bike shorts aren't a bandaid.  They're the correct tool for the job.

CheapskateWife

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2015, 01:02:26 PM »
When I switched to a Selle Anatomica bike seat, it took away all my pelvic discomfort...highly recommend.  Oh and get yourself some padded bike shorts and stop trying to be a tough guy!

G-dog

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #15 on: June 10, 2015, 08:39:47 PM »
Maybe your very dry skin is part of the problem? If you can find a moisturizer that helps your skin, maybe that will help.

Le Poisson

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2015, 06:54:50 AM »
Maybe your very dry skin is part of the problem? If you can find a moisturizer that helps your skin, maybe that will help.

I've had trouble with eczema forever, mostly on my hands, and about a year ago I put a bottle of lotion on my desk - this resulted in a number of 'interesting comments' from coworkers (If I were equipped with a vagina it would be harassment, but that's another story). Anyways, I started applying lotion every time the phone rang. Its amazing how this has tamed the eczema problem without the need for steroid creams etc.

Might not work for your groin (you can't really lather up the land down under while on the phone at your desk) but this is another nod in the direction of something most guys don't do - moisturizing cream can be good stuff!

GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2015, 07:30:13 AM »
Might not work for your groin (you can't really lather up the land down under while on the phone at your desk)

Well, you can . . . but you would make all those comments you were getting rather accurate.  :P

Duchess of Stratosphear

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2015, 07:53:54 AM »
When I switched to a Selle Anatomica bike seat, it took away all my pelvic discomfort...highly recommend.  Oh and get yourself some padded bike shorts and stop trying to be a tough guy!

I have a Selle Anatomica as well. Expensive, but you won't have to replace it for years, if ever!

Also, CLEAN bike shorts. Wash after every use. Ditto Chamois Butt'r, or Bag Balm if you're cheap and don't mind petroleum products.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2015, 09:10:51 AM »
Hrm, I might have derailed my own thread with the dry skin comment. It's not an actual syndrome like exczma, etc. I just don't produce much natural skin oil. If I shower everyday my limbs and face get itchy and tight feeling, but no scaling or flaking.  I can shower everyday as long as I lotion myself, but then I'd have to add another product to my beauty routine. I've always found showering less and avoiding soap to be the simplest solution.

Obviously I may have to switch to 'shower more, use lotion' BUT, I've been researching using portable Hibiclens wipes instead of increasing the showering frequency. I really don't want to have to shower at work. It would be a huge hassle, and make bike commuting a huge turn off.

As for moisturizing my actual groin, I fear adding extra moisture to something that seems to be a moisture problem in the first place. Actually, mskyle made me realize a infection vector I'd never considered before - my uniform. I wear blousing straps, which means I rubberband my trousers to the top of my boots (link for the truly curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTHdR1sLa2U). The total lack of ventilation leads to a summer phenomenon we like to call swampass. I can't understand why I haven't linked the two problems before...

Rutes

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2015, 10:34:44 AM »
I've been using a split saddle for about 4 years now. Got it for under $30 on Amazon. Mine is the "Hobson EasySeat", but I'm sure a lot of others would work just as well. My biking buddies always make fun of it, but that bothers me a lot less than the soreness that I used to get from a regular saddle. As one of my friends said, it's like having "independent butt-cheek suspension."

G-dog

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2015, 04:28:20 PM »
Maybe your very dry skin is part of the problem? If you can find a moisturizer that helps your skin, maybe that will help.

I've had trouble with eczema forever, mostly on my hands, and about a year ago I put a bottle of lotion on my desk - this resulted in a number of 'interesting comments' from coworkers (If I were equipped with a vagina it would be harassment, but that's another story). Anyways, I started applying lotion every time the phone rang. Its amazing how this has tamed the eczema problem without the need for steroid creams etc.

Might not work for your groin (you can't really lather up the land down under while on the phone at your desk) but this is another nod in the direction of something most guys don't do - moisturizing cream can be good stuff!

Just make sure you put the box of Kleenex right by the lotion!
FYI - it's still harassment if you feel harassed. up to you how you want to handle it. If you don't feel harassed, more like annoyed, or offended - then not harassment.

cdttmm

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2015, 04:48:48 PM »
Padded bike shorts.

Anti Monkey Butt powder.

http://www.antimonkeybutt.com/

Seriously.

Gold Bond powder only if Anti Monkey Butt powder is unavailable.

Never baby powder.

GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2015, 04:53:38 PM »
Can I make the recommendation that you try the bike shorts without any gunk, grease, or powder first?

3okirb

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2015, 05:19:59 PM »
BODY GLIDE.  You can thank me later.  (BTW, Academy has it if you don't want to order it online.  It's near the weight lifting stuff in the front.

smilla

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2015, 05:39:33 PM »
Saddle sores are often caused by infected hair follicles which is often caused by ingrown hair so in addition to the bike shorts (padded or not):

when you shower, use a washcloth to scrub the area (gently if there are open sores) to exfoliate and keep those follicles unblocked.

as an at-work compromise, swipe the area with an acne pad (2% salicylic acid) when you change from your bike shorts.  Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant and will also help to keep the follicles clear.

if you wax or shave the area you may want to switch to a trimmer to reduce the likelihood of ingrowns. 

if you leave the area au naturel you may want to try a trimmer which might reduce hair breakage/pulling (which can irritate the follicles) caused by friction.

Can I make the recommendation that you try the bike shorts without any gunk, grease, or powder first?

+1 to this but if you do end up using gunk, grease or powder, +1 to Gold Bond powder as it has salicylic acid and zinc oxide which should help prevent and heal irritation.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #26 on: June 11, 2015, 07:31:30 PM »
Saddle sores are often caused by infected hair follicles which is often caused by ingrown hair so in addition to the bike shorts (padded or not):

when you shower, use a washcloth to scrub the area (gently if there are open sores) to exfoliate and keep those follicles unblocked.

as an at-work compromise, swipe the area with an acne pad (2% salicylic acid) when you change from your bike shorts.  Salicylic acid is a chemical exfoliant and will also help to keep the follicles clear.

if you wax or shave the area you may want to switch to a trimmer to reduce the likelihood of ingrowns. 

if you leave the area au naturel you may want to try a trimmer which might reduce hair breakage/pulling (which can irritate the follicles) caused by friction.

Great advice, I certainly hadn't thought of acne pads. I suspect my issue probably does start with ingrown hairs and opportunistic infections.

Can I make the recommendation that you try the bike shorts without any gunk, grease, or powder first?

Also sound advice. One step at a time, etc.

BODY GLIDE.

Anti Monkey Butt powder.

Both of these look like wepons worth adding to the potential arsenal. I tried pretty hard to come up with a double entendre about alternate uses for something called body glide....but I got nothing. At least it sounds less lonely than the pump bottle of lotion?

cdttmm

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #27 on: June 11, 2015, 08:39:56 PM »
Some additional thoughts.

Body Glide is great before you have saddle sores. Once you have them, Body Glide and other lubes tend to make things worse not better. Anti Monkey Butt powder will help treat an existing problem. Once you've solved the problem you can then try using Body Glide as a preventative measure.

Here's some related "scientific" research. Just for fun.

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2013/08/13/preventing-swamp-crotch/

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2015, 09:02:26 AM »
One other thing.  While it is 99% likely this is a run of the mill biking issue, there is also another condition called hidradenitis supperativa.  It is very rare but I'm one of the lucky few who get it.  You end up w/ cysts under the skin that come to the surface like a boil and then burst.  There are a lot of theories behind why, including infected hair follicle.  I have mine very under control right now thank goodness. That said, many docs have never even heard of it and it is very hard to get diagnosed. If you have reoccurring issues in hairy areas, read up on the disease.  Reoccurring can mean just one spot that won't go away.  Luckily, mine has been just one.  For everyone else, don't google it unless you really think you might have it.  The results on a google search can be pretty gross.

Sailor Sam

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2015, 12:30:17 PM »
Hey Blond Lawyer, thanks for your reply. I actually stumbled across HS information while researching my troubles. My problem area is definitely in one of the places HS likes to attack. I also learned about lichen planus and lichen sclerouses during my travels. Horrifying!

I'm keeping an eye on everything, and I'm hopeful it's regular old biking troubles. My armpits are clear, and the lumps (eventually) go away if I quit biking for long enough.   

Another thing NOT to look up when you've got a case of the bumps is information on MRSA. I made that mistake, freaked out, and acted neurotic all over my long suffering wife for 2 long days. Eventually I calmed down, but I'm no longer allowed to look at things on the internet. 

Blonde Lawyer

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #30 on: June 18, 2015, 01:42:00 PM »
Ha! My first uninformed doc misdiagnosed my HS as MRSA and had me totally freaking out.  I was on crazy antibiotics for a few days until they got back the lab report that I did not have it.  I'd suggest next time it goes away, don't immediately start biking.  Wait a month or two (I know it sucks) and see if the thing comes back on its own without biking.  That would be one way to try to figure out if it is HS.  Mine were definitely hormone related too.  Not sure if you are male or female.

If it is HS, what's worked for me is strict gluten/dairy free, Seasonique birth control so 3 months w/ no period plus low hormone pills even when I have my period, keeping the area dry even if that means changing my underwear multiple times/day on hot days, witch hazel pre and post biking in addition to what I already posted re: biking, laser hair removal professionally and now home laser hair removal for maintenance.  It's not exactly just to remove the hair.  Something about the laser prevents the cyst.  Oh and before strictly doing the above, I had mine surgically removed 3 times.  Not fun.

lithotomist

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #31 on: June 19, 2015, 06:58:35 PM »
Hey all, I have to throw in my two cents into this one.  I'm a practicing urologist who focuses on sexual dysfunction and for the love of your sex life get yourself a bike SEAT not a saddle.  Anything with a nose between your legs is crushing you pudendal artery and nerve which makes for some bad times in the bedroom over the long term.  There is an entire body of literature on this topic published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine. 

I have no affiliation with these guys but their website has a nice overview of the anatomy and physiology of how saddles are bad for you.  Saddles with a cut out in the middle are the worse offenders of all. 

http://www.nexride.com/why-noseless.html

Keep on riding and keep your bits safe ;>

GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #32 on: June 20, 2015, 12:56:58 PM »
There are an awful lot of people who never have any erectile problems who use a standard bike seat regularly.

phwadsworth

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #33 on: June 21, 2015, 06:17:37 AM »
Saddle sores are zits, caused by chaffing and grinding bacteria into the skin.  That's it.

- get real cycling shorts, with a chamois, several pairs so you can rotate them.  Spend $$$ on these.  The difference between the $50 and $120 pairs is *amazing*, do it.  invest.  they last a very long time.
- keep your body and your shorts very clean.  If you can't get right to a shower after a ride use disinfecting wet wipes.
- Chamois Lube.  I prefer DZ Nuts
- Use antibiotic ointment on any sores that start.

A saddle that fits well will help, but it takes a long time (months) to know if it's working.  It takes time for your butt and the saddle to get familiar with each other.

aperture

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #34 on: June 21, 2015, 06:25:33 AM »
Thanks for the heads up lithotomist. Valued info!

lithotomist

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #35 on: June 22, 2015, 11:35:00 AM »
Same goes for men and women.  GuitarStv, take a look at the studies and see what you think.  Not everyone who rides is going to end up in trouble but I see plenty who do. 

GuitarStv

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #36 on: June 22, 2015, 12:11:18 PM »
Same goes for men and women.  GuitarStv, take a look at the studies and see what you think.  Not everyone who rides is going to end up in trouble but I see plenty who do.

My understanding is that significant tingling and numbness typically precede erection problems.  I am absolutely not a professional cyclist, but I regularly ride to work (11 miles each way) and run errands on my bike.  With my bike properly adjusted I haven't experienced any numbness on even longer 60-70 km rides.  (I try to regularly move my hands around and will slide back or forth on my saddle, occasionally lifting my ass up on longer rides to keep blood flowing.  Not sure if it makes a difference or not.)  If you do experience tingling, numbness and problems getting it up . . . by all means, invest in a different saddle, mess with your bike fit, or run screaming from your bike.

For everyone else, I'll just leave this here:

Quote
In this large cross-sectional observational study of cyclists, weekly cycling duration was not associated with ED or infertility.
Quote
In a large, detailed cross-sectional study of habitual cyclists, we present findings regarding the association between self-reported cycling time and ED, infertility, and prostate cancer. There was no biological gradient between cycling time and ED or infertility, which is at odds with previous suggestions of a causal relationship.
From the largest study ever done on the matter: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/jomh.2014.0012

http://bicyclehabitat.com/articles/saddle-seats-and-erectile-dysfunction-the-myth-exploded-pg97.htm
« Last Edit: June 22, 2015, 12:17:30 PM by GuitarStv »

Koogie

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Re: Saddle sores - the bike commute edition
« Reply #37 on: June 22, 2015, 12:26:04 PM »
I get saddle sores when bike touring.   Cheap and effective solution is using Diaper Cream on them at night (same cream they put on babies asses for diaper rash)

Stuff is like magic.  Sores heal almost overnight. 

Messy as hell though.