Friday, April 4, 2014

Contact Points (sore butt) revisited

During the Stagecoach 400 I truly tested my choice of saddle, bib shorts, chamois, pain cream and medical recovery ointments.  Some passed the test others failed.

At 400 miles, cool to very hot temps and just shy of 4 full riding days I was able to truly ‘test’ my choices. 

The seat I was using seemed just about perfect in all my training rides up to this point.  Smooth with no seams or stitching to chaff.  Padding quite firm but still accommodating. But what I learned from SC 400 race experience (and since confirmed with some internet research) is it’s to narrow when I sit up in my relaxed TDR position. It’s perfect for an aggressive, forward race or aero bar position but simply to narrow when I sit up.  Much of the TDR will be spent in an upright relaxed position.

Turns out there is scientific evidence to support a wider saddle for upright positions and narrower saddles for classic race positions.  Of course everyone wants a cool looking, light, narrow ‘race’ saddle but apparently the same person might benefit from different width saddles for different uses.  IE: not just to accommodate different personal sit bone widths but also to best fit different riding positions.  I sort of knew this from experience but till I read and studied the following:
I never really put 2 and 2 together.  Turns out by sit bone measurement I do take a normal or slightly wider width saddle—but only when in a more aggressive race position on my bike.  When in the full upright position a wider saddle should better fit my sit bones. I think this is why I like the aero bars so much.  When I drop down to the aero position on my TDR bike it puts me not in a true aero position but basically a classic road race position.  My sit bones are then ‘matched’ to the normal width saddles I have always used and everything feels perfect.   Well we will see, I am going to test this concept with two wider-than-I-normally use saddles.

SQlab "active" saddle on order for testing......
Bib Shorts:
After my 2010 TDR bib short fiasco I thought I had my bibs nailed.  But after the SC 400 it turns out the chamois in the shorts I used started to pill up just a tiny bit.  This may have been caused by the extra friction developed on day 1, when I deliberately skipped adding chamois cream thru the long hot day.  But then again maybe not, maybe it was just normal wear & tear and if I extend the pilling out over 20days I am scared these shorts will not last the entire TDR.  It’s difficult to find bib shorts that fit my long torso, fat waist and skinny stick legs.  If the torso and waist fit inevitably the lower legs will be to loose.  And if the lower legs are too loose they ride up and pinch my –wait that’s probably to much detail….  Anyway I am trying out a pair of Pearl IzumiP.R.O. bib shorts. 
The fit is still loose on the legs but the chamois material looks like it will resist pilling –we will see. 

Plan B is to use/test some bib knickers.  Knickers solve the problem of riding up and pinching but sometimes my bad knee does not like constant pressure and I worry about the occasional ‘hot’ day on the TDR.  And I would most likely need to buy some regular bibs come NM.

Chamois and Pain creams:
I have used A&D as my go-to chamois cream during all my more recent multi-days and will probably continue to do so. However on the very strong recommendation of Michael Grosso I am going to retry ASSOS chamois cream. During the final ride to the finish on day 4 of the SC 400 Michael Grosso and I extensively compared saddle sore notes.  He 100% absolutely emphatically recommended Assos bibs and chamois cream.  Unfortunately the Assos bibs simply do not fit at my lower leg but I am going to re-experiment with the cream.  (And the Assos bib knickers do fit—so I may buy a pair and test them on an upcoming overnight in a desert area) 

During the SC 400, once I started to get sore I quickly reverted to A&D but it was too late to stop the damage from skipping the A&D.  (I wanted to see how far I could push before I ‘had’ to add chamois cream, turns out about 1 full day) So by day 4 I was moderately sore and irritated.  I used my GeronimoPain Cream each night and each morning was partially healed up.  And once by the end of day 3 and twice on day 4 I mixed some Num-Zit into my A&D.  Like always it does the trick—pain gone, at least for a few hours.  Not a solution but I will be surprised if I could ever go the whole TDR without resorting to Num-Zit. 

Personally I think a ‘mix’ of Geronimo Pain cream, Num-Zit and Aleve Naproxen is the best combination of pain medication for the TDR.  The key is to use Geronimo for recovery each night and so on till I really need both Num-Zit and Aleve—those to be used sparingly from that point forward.  And not to ever over do or rely 100% on any one pain killer.

I will let ya all know how the new saddles and bibs work out---------

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