So many of my clients have questions and run into issues related to saddle sores, and man, when you get a bad one, it can be really bad. I have actually had a couple clients that suffered so severely, they had to have surgery.
When you sit on a saddle, that’s a lot of weight on a very small surface area. There’s the weight of the torso, the weight of the helmet, the weight of the upper body, the arms — it’s all focused into this relatively small point. Then we add friction generated by the movement of the legs. With so many moving parts there is so much that can go wrong which can lead to undercarriage issues for the rider.
Today, I’ve also got a special guest that we’ll get to in the second part of the podcast. Don Powell is the creator and owner of Panache Cyclewear. He’s been designing and creating his own cycling gear there for 12 years. We’ll hear a bit from Don about the construction of chamois and fabrics and technical details in the second part.
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Welcome to the cycling and alignment podcast, an examination of cycling as a practice and dialogue about the integration of sport, right relationship to your life.
Colby Pearce 00:25
Welcome cycling in alignment listeners, thank you for joining us once again. We are recording at the very end of 2020. And we missed an episode in there. So for those of you who were waiting anxiously for last Tuesday’s drop, I appreciate your patience. Sometimes, you know, holidays happen and people travel and I don’t know if you know this, but 2020 there was this pandemic thing and stuff got a little complicated. So we had to take a week off there. Now we’re back. And we’re here to discuss your favorite topic. So source, I have a lot of clients who come to me and discuss saddle sores have questions about saddle sores. And man, when you get a bad one, they can be really bad. I’ve been in the sport for 35 years. So of course, I’ve had my own kung fu battles with saddle sores. And I’ll say that some of mine have been pretty solid. But I’ve had some clients who have really been through the wringer. I’ve had a couple clients who’ve had to have surgery. And that is obviously scenario we would like to avoid. So for those of you out there who have questions about saddle sores, hopefully we’re going to answer all of them. Today, I’ve got a special guest that we’ll get to in the second part of the podcast, Don Powell, the creator and owner of panache, like aware, Dawn’s had that company for I’m gonna say about 12 years now, maybe a little longer. And he’s been making his own stuff there on his own terms forever. He’s also the creative director there. And he has a lot of super cool kit design. So we’ll hear a bit from Don about the construction of jammies and fabrics and technical details like that in the second part, but for now, I’m going to just unpack some of the more common points of discussion I have with my clients about saddle sores. So what are some of the things that can cause saddle sores or will say variables that can lead to sales or creation. And this is something we want to lay out so that we can understand how to minimize things, I think people tend to think about saddle sores in terms of I got a sore because of this, meaning it was a single factorial event. But my understanding is that most officers are kind of caused by a series of events, or rather multiple factors contributing to the likelihood of this happening. And if you think about the conditions under which we put our nether regions, our undercarriages, or crutches, we’re kind of we’re kind of asking for it. When you sit on a saddle, that’s a lot of weight on a very small surface area, the weight of the torso, the way the helmet, the weight of the upper body, the arms, it’s all focused into this relatively small point, and then we’re going to add friction, and that’s generated by the movement of the legs, where the motion of pedaling becomes focused into a very small area. And over time, this is kind of like when you were in your driveway with a magnifying glass and you focus the sun and fried all those ants. I know you did this. All kids do this. So it’s part of learning about physics. And it’s also cruel. It’s our little exercise in playing God, well, this is the ants having revenge upon you, because those ants getting your Shammi and cause unhappy things to happen. So what are the contributing factors to this? Well, for one thing, we don’t have a lot of airflow in that area. I mean, of course, we’re writing outdoors, we’ve got airflow passing over our bodies constantly. And that air flows helps us move moisture and sweat away from the skin. And Don talks about this later. But there’s sort of an ideal balance, we want some moisture around the barrier of the skin, but not too much. And because you’re sitting on the saddle, air can’t really flow between your butt and the saddle unless of course, you’re standing up out of the saddle. So we kind of collect a bit more warmth, heat and moisture in that area. And then we’ve got a pad and the pad by design helps provide some cushioning, but at the same time, it prevents airflow and prevents moisture from moving away from the body as effectively.
Colby Pearce 04:51
So we’re sort of my point is we’re sort of have a recipe for all this force to be concentrated in these areas. And the Most likely area for a saddle sore is under the issue of pubic remai, or the ischial tuberosities. So to review our geometry of the underside of the human, think about the issue of the issue of the underside of the two halves of the pelvis. And these are bones that are roughly shaped like rocking chair feet. So they’re wide in the back, and they kind of come together in the front. They’re angled, and they’re also curved. So remember, if you think about a rocking chair being placed on a hardwood floor, that’s what the issues are like, they kind of rock back and forth. And when you put the issue on a flat surface, you get one point of contact. So when we use a curved saddle, we are curving the floor up to meet the chair, and we’re distributing that area over a larger surface area that we’re distributing the weight over a larger surface area. So in the back, the wider part of those rocking chair feet, we have two kind of little bumps and a little points. And those are the ischial tuberosities. And when you go to a shop, sometimes some faders use a method where they measure your sit bone width, or six bone width depending on the colloquialism. And that’s really what they’re talking about is the distance between those two bumps. There’s another two bumps more towards the front side of things. And those are the issue pubic grandma. So really, we have four kind of bumps. And these bumps may or may not be more pronounced on some humans than others. I mean, we’re all humans, we have slightly different bone shapes, we roughly have the same bones, although you can actually have anatomical anomalies where people occasionally have extra bones in different places or less. But this is the beautiful individuality of human beings. But basically, fundamentally, all humans have these markers on their ischium. And so the way to think about this is when you’re sitting upright, with a more upright torso, more towards will say 45 ish degrees, depending on your fit, and you’re on the tops, you’re probably putting more weight towards the issue of the ischial tuberosities. Those are the bones in the back. And then as you get lower and your shoulder height drops, your chin height drops, maybe you go towards the hoods, more of your weight is placed between the ischial tuberosities and the issue of pubic remai. And then as you go really low and arrow, you’re racing home and a headwind or trying to bridge the gap to a breakaway, and you’re in the drops, or maybe you’re on the hoods, but your elbows are bent to a very low angle and your chin height and your shoulder height are very low, your torso is closer horizontal, your pelvis tends to rotate forward more towards the issue of pubic ramaa. Those are the bumps in the front. So that’s kind of our terrain map.
Colby Pearce 07:54
all of that is contingent on the mechanical stability of the pelvis, meaning the less stable the pelvis is, the more likely it is you will incur a sore and the sore could happen towards the remai. Or towards the issue of the ischial tuberosities. It’s probably more common for people to get a pressure point under the tuberosities. This depends on how your body interacts with the saddle, and how those two terrain maps fit together or don’t. We also get more likelihood of chafing in between those two points in the side. And I’ll describe that as the crease or the area between your parent your parent or your premium depending on where you place the emphasis on this level. And the upper upper upper part of your thigh. So the premium and the thigh right in between that areas of crease and there’s one on either side. And that’s an area where a lot of people can get a lot of chiefing the things that influence this whole paradigm and this whole interaction between your butt and the saddle include yourself height is the most obvious one if your cells too high, your hips tend to rock more because you’re kind of reaching for the saddle at the bottom or reaching for the pedal at the bottom of this pedal stroke. And so the more rocking you have, the more likely you will have chiefing and as the saddle height increases, it is more likely that a person will reach more on one side than the other. That’s the more common paradigm. I call that. Commonly I’ll call that hip drop in my bike fitting sessions. Also setback will influence this, the angle of the saddle, the stance width of your pedals, the angle adjustment of your cleats, the arch support or lack of arch support in your cycling shoes, and also the condition of your shoes, cleats and pedals. So someone can have all the details of saddle height and setback and angle dialed and come in and their shoes can be super blown out and old and just not supportive enough and the foot can be moving in that shoe and that can ultimately resulting stability of the pelvis, which causes friction and a saddle sore. Same with the cleats and pedals. So we want generally speaking pedals with float, which most people are better off with, we kind of want a certain amount of play in the pedal, in the plain of will say horizontal movement, meaning if you can clip into your pedal and move your ankle closer to the chain stay away from the chain stay. That’s how most plates are designed to allow movement. And that’s generally speaking, good movement to have, we do not want to play in the plane of rotational movement around the center axis of the foot, meaning if you could drop the ball of your foot down towards the pedal axle, and also move the pinky toe down towards the pedal axle. If you can rotate your foot in that plane, that’s generally speaking not really good, because that allows pronation or supination. And if we have too much of that movement, because your pedals are too blown, or your cleats are too smoked, and there’s too much play in that system there that can quite easily cause a lot of pelvic instability and saddle sores. Amongst other things, knee problem, knee pain being one of the more common ones. We also have the equation of pelvic stability. So if someone’s on the bike, and all those mechanical aspects of bike fit are dialed, but they’re super, super tight, their muscles are really bound up, they’re not flexible, they lack mobility. If someone’s lacking a lot of internal or external mobility in the hips, and they’re trying to pedal like crazy in the sagittal plane with a lot of force and, or a very high cadence, then those hips don’t move well enough to allow that motion, especially when they’re pedaling really hard. And you end up with a lot of bouncing but syndrome. Jonathan Byers used to comment on me having bouncing back when I was a junior, I wasn’t really that good at being applying a lot of power to high cadence, and my butt would bounce on the saddle. And in particular, my right leg wasn’t very smooth at the bottom of the stroke. Some of that is probably because my saddle was too high as young rider didn’t figure that out till years later. Hence the wormhole of bike fitting.
Colby Pearce 12:19
If your quads are super tight, your hamstrings are super tight. You’re so as early access are like little steel cables. If your core function sucks, if your breathing pattern is inverted, or just poor, if your pelvic floor isn’t strong and anchored, all these things can cause pelvic instability, which ultimately can contribute to a sort of sore. So there’s a lot that goes into this. And we’re trying to get a human being to interact with a bicycle and bicycles are very unyielding. So fundamentally, when your facial system or muscular system is really bound up, you are more likely to have problems that can result in this little fulcrum of stress and pressure that ultimately erupts into a constant pattern. Other factors that can contribute include soaps, and this is a bit of a wormhole for my clients. Sometimes when clients are battling saddle sores over a long term timeline, they come to the conclusion that they need to emphasize hygiene. And this is a reasonable line of thought. But sometimes we go too far down the rabbit hole in one direction. And I’ve heard of clients assuming that because they need to have extremely clean conditions, they’ll research a more powerful or harsher scope. And I’ve even heard of clients going out and using helical ends, which is some sort of soap that surgeons use to scrub down their hands and arms when they wash for two or three minutes straight before you go into brain surgery or open heart surgery. And these are extreme conditions, you are opening up a human body to perform surgery and potentially introducing bacteria which could be common, very problematic. So the reason surgeons scrub themselves so extensively, is because you’re interrupting the normal body’s defense mechanisms by slicing people open and doing necessary procedures to improve their health or save their lives. These are exceptional conditions. That’s not what Cycling is. Yes, Cycling is exceptional, but hopefully we’re not opening up the skin. So when you scrub your crotch for two minutes straight with hibbett lens or some sort of other soap that Naipaul’s every bit of bacteria off of your body, you’re compromising the microbiome of your skin. Our skin is the first layer of defense against pathogenic invaders. When you roll around in the dirt or pet your dog or go to the park and walk in bare feet, which hopefully you do occasionally, a healthy microbiome in your skin helps prevent things like parasites from invading your skin. From when you step in, who knows what that’s about. everything that’s in nature. You know, you go in the ocean, you get fish poop on you, you go in the park, there’s dog feces and bird feces and worm designations and, you know, detritus, there’s there’s nature and that’s healthy that that’s that layer of humans in the earth is part of what challenges your microbiome on a healthy level, and allows your body to defend itself against nature in a healthy way. So when you wipe out that biome, that microbiome with the super harsh detergents and soaps, you’re actually stripping the oils away, stripping away the helpful helpful bacteria, the natural balance of bacteria, and that dries out the skin so intensely, and leaves it leaves it defenseless, that you can actually kind of continue the cycle of a Salazar. When we strip away that microbiome from the skin with these harsh soaps, and then we add a petroleum based shimmy cream back into our skin, we’re kind of going farther from nature farther from natural balance. So I’ll talk more about Shammi creams in a moment. Don also unpacks his philosophy on that and he has a lot of interesting things to say. My simple method is use a soap that is a natural soap that isn’t super harsh, and use lots of it. Lots of soap and warm water and wash really attentively. I do especially after a long, hard ride, I will wash my crotch. For 60 seconds straight. I will use warm soap and water and I’m using that example explicitly to let you know that 60 seconds is a really long time. If you actually watch a clock and wash yourself in one place for 60 seconds you’ll realize how intense that is.
Colby Pearce 16:56
The soap I prefer is Dr. Bronner’s. Dr. Bronner’s is really old soap company that uses natural ingredients and a lot of essential oils and their products. I think it works really well. Some people even think Dr. Bronner’s is too harsh if you want to gentler so you can check out later. That’s w e, l, e, da. I believe it’s a German company, I’ve used their products, they’re very gentle. we unpack a bit about soaps and washing. In my episode with Dr. Scott story as well, Scott recommends washing the critical areas only that his armpits feed and crotch with soap and just using warm water on the rest of your body. My feeling is if you’ve done a five hour bike ride, and you’ve sweat excessively, sunlight, so probably isn’t a bad idea in most places at the body, if not all. So the point being is we don’t want to napalm the microbiome of the skin. We want to allow that balance of natural oils and natural skin protection to happen. And by using really strong soaps, we run the risk of taking that out of balance and furthering the cycle. You’re just challenging the skin more. There are a lot of Shammi Korean products out on the market, Don talks about how he doesn’t use shaving cream. I also do not use shaving cream. The last time I’ve used shaving cream was when I was a pro 60 writer. When you’re racing the track for three hours a night at 120 RPM average, you pretty much need something to deal with a little bit of friction. Also consider that when you’re on the velodrome, you’re going through the corners and you’re increasing the G forces, which means you’re effectively amplifying your weight, which means you’re pushing down in the saddle with more force than you would when you’re just riding your bike on the road or on gravel. So all those factors kind of add up to Yeah, we need to make sure that things are looked after here and we don’t develop a saddle sore. That said, if you are going to use shanny cream, I highly recommend a more natural product. I’ve played a little bit with one brand in particular, it’s called matte alchemy. They’re actually here in Colorado, I’ll put a link to them in the show notes. They’ve got a much more holistic view of what to put on your skin. My rule is, if you look the ingredients list on any shaving cream or any product you’re going to put on your skin and you don’t have no idea what it is. That’s flag number one. Number two is if it’s an ingredient that you would conceivably put in your mouth, then you can put it on your skin. But I wouldn’t eat petroleum jelly. So I’m not gonna put it on my skin because you things do go through your skin, it is a porous membrane. When you get into chlorinated water, as much as 60% of that chlorinated water goes through the skin and into your body. So we have to think about these things. The skin is your vortex in a sense. I also prefer to also recommend that my clients rehab hydrate their skin after they do this washing with a gentle soap. And again my go to product for that is Dr. Bronner’s. They make excellent lotions which for me are the perfect balance of strong enough and thick enough the right texture to rehydrate my skin and help it develop its natural means of dealing with the world, but also not so heavy that they’re going to clog pores. There’s not petroleum products in those, those lotions and moisturizers. Another aspect of our little cycling worlds that can make saddle sores become a thing is the amount of time you’re spending on the trainer. Clearly, a lot of people trained more indoors in 2020 than they did in other years. At this moment, it’s winter in Colorado, so a lot of people are riding indoors as well. The more we write indoors on the trainer, the more we make all of these things kind of worse in the direction of saddle sores, the bike is completely stationary, it is locked in place, that tends to magnify all these micro movements of the torso of the pelvis, which increases our little fulcrum to generate more heat and more friction in certain spots. So that just increases the likelihood of a service or happening. So all of our rules are even more important. All of our recommendations are even more important to follow when you’re writing more on the trainer. Some other things to think about are a trainer platform that allows some movement. I’ve mentioned in the past the Cirrus trip trainer platform, there’s some other options out there that you can take advantage of. When the trainer can move under you while you’re training indoors. Then we help offset some of those micro movements and let the bike have some natural motion during pedaling. Also, it encourages you to stand up more.
Colby Pearce 21:56
Riders tend to stand up less when their trainer when they’re on the trainer indoors, I think partially because the trainer tends to be fixed. And standing up becomes really awkward. You can’t really rock the bike so much.
Colby Pearce 22:08
maybe set an alarm and consider standing up every few minutes. I mean, there’s no reason at all, if you stand up one minute out of every 10. When you’re riding outdoors, there’s no reason why that same ratio should not happen indoors. The other suggestion I’ll give you is considered riding rollers. When you’re really good, you can even stand up on the rollers. This again allows for a little bit of stabilization. A little more souplesse and supple muscle during indoor training helps work on your technique of pedaling. I would argue a little more effectively than riding on a trainer but also just gives us a soul movement and motion that will help prevent that endless pressure on one point of your undercarriage. Also, don’t be afraid to take breaks. Remember that when you ride outdoors, you’re stopping and stoplights, you’re probably stopping for coffee, you’re stopping to pee, you are stopping to pet that cute dog, whatever you got going on during your outdoor rides. When we’re on the trainer, we tend to not take as many breaks. Don’t be afraid to take a break. Don’t think your coach is going to yell at you if you go pee for 30 seconds. And that also helps relieve pressure and move things around a little bit. To that end, trainer rides are more focused in general. And because you’re not drafting, you’re not coasting you don’t have stoplight time. train rides are distilled. So what I’m getting at is if your prescription is a two hour zone to ride on the trainer, excuse me outdoors, you can probably boil that down to about 90 minutes on a trainer get the same amount of work done. And a similar level work rate. Similar number of cages. So don’t assume that trainer time and outdoor ride time are one to one they’re really not. You got to boil it down and distill it and see what you’re actually getting as the benefit. That allows you to minimize jump miles and you can also compress warmup time and warm downtime a little bit so that we’re not getting ourselves so much pressure on our stuff in a fixed position. The lack of airflow compensation for outdoor riding doubly applies on the trainer of course because most the time riders ride with a fan, but that fan is just not going to do as good a job of moving away moisture, especially around the area of the shimmy in the crotch. The other concept I want to talk about is detoxification pathways. So all humans have different methods of detoxification. We’re constantly detoxifying, all the stuff, the internal things that we need to move out like oxidative stress and damage, the crap that ends up in our diet that glide phosphate we get in our food and water and everywhere else that it is unfortunately, the microplastics Or else we’ve got to process and move out of our system. And there are five primary pathways for that. Three of them are organs. Well, actually all of them are organs, kidney, liver, colon, lungs, and skin. And depending on who you are and your phenotype, you may lot rely on or lean more on one or more of these pathways for detoxification. And this is really simple to kind of Intuit once you understand how humans work, and you consider that there are kids in high school who have acne and those who don’t. And some of that comes down to their individual tendencies to detoxify through their skin use their skin as more of a pathway of detoxification. So I was a kid who had a fair amount of acne in high school, not cystic acne, fortunately, but I definitely have enough to be noticed. And that tells you that I do process toxins through the pathway of my skin. If you’re one of these people who tends to process toxicity out of your skin, then that means hygiene and shammies. And the cleanliness of your shorts. And the condition of your shorts is an important thing. I actually had in grade school in high school had a propensity to get skin boils, which were super miserable to deal with. A boil, in case you don’t know is basically a localized infection of a single port that can become extremely red and inflamed and painful. And it was just something I got when I was a kid I diet wasn’t great. When I was younger I I’m in grade school here. So it’s not like I was had a lot of detoxification pathways in my system. How would I’ve offset that knowing what I know now I would have hydrated better, I would have eaten a much better diet. Things like hot showers, or ideally far infrared, sauna.
Colby Pearce 27:00
Yoga, deep breath, work, all these things can help move toxins out of the body. I didn’t have any of those skills or tools at my disposal at the time. So periodically, I would have this manifestation of these toxins into my skin, not a great way to to deal with things. Not particularly pleasant. Also wasn’t the best way for me to walk through high school. But life gives you lessons until you pass the lesson and then you you figure it out, move on to the next one. If you have a propensity towards these types of challenges, then that gives you a clue as to how you have to negotiate the world navigate the world and figure out where are your detoxification pathways are. One thing I figured out that works particularly well for me in this department is regular supplementation of liposomal glutathione. glutathione is a master antioxidant. And I take it pretty much daily. Usually in the evenings, I took a liposomal formulation which is made by Quicksilver, I’ll put a link to that in the show notes if you want to check it out. liposomal simply means really, really, really tiny. And when you use a like a summer formulation, you take a few drops onto your tongue, and it will pass immediately through the barrier of the skin into your bloodstream, thus bypassing the gastric tract. So we don’t have to take you can take with ion in capsule form if you want to, but it has to go through your stomach and survive and get into the digestive system to get into your bloodstream. liposomal bypasses all that. So generally speaking liposomal formulas, you take less of them. And they put no strain on your digestive tract, your stomach, etc. But they also have a little more bioavailability because they go directly into your into the system. When you’re taking a liposuction formula liposuction formula, it is extra important to make sure it is high quality because obviously it’s going straight into your bloodstream. So this is something I’ve noticed works for me. When I take lithium regularly, my skin problems are almost none. And I don’t get oils now much in adult life due to the fact that I’ve maximized more of these detox detoxification techniques and pathways. So that’s a good solution that I figured out for me. So I found that when I take Bluetooth ion regularly, my skin is very clear. I have for many years of cyclists struggled with skin issues and in particular, I would get some irritation in that area, the crease, that’s the area between my parent em and the upper upper upper part of my thigh, who gets some irritation there and sometimes the skin would just become kind of a little bit almost razor Bernie or a mild rash and that was from your the irritation of my lay rubbing against the cell. Since I’ve changed to a better sell the SNP that your tuition has gone down quite a bit, although that can still flare up from time to time, if I’m using shorts that are a little past their shelf life will say they’ve started to get old, the elastic in the shorts will no longer work particularly around the leg band, and then the leg band will creep up on the thigh, and then the fabric tends to bunch in that crease. And then I get that irritation. And because my skin is one of my detoxification pathways, it gets a little sensitive and gets a little irritated. And if I ignore that for long enough, or don’t pay attention to it, then this game will get broken and then boom, a Salesforce starts immediately. So that’s kind of how that all works, I have to have shorts that are in really good shape. I and in particular, in the winter, when you’re riding with leg and knee warmers under your shorts, that is easier to happen because the fabric on the leg and arm warmers or excuse me leg and knee warmers tends to be not as good of a grippy surface for the silicone covers on the leg man to the shorts. So all these little variables add up. And fundamentally, we’re doing a sport that is repetitive in motion. And so even a tiny bit of something that seems like it’s not a big deal in terms of short fit, can add up over 1000s and 1000s of pedal revolutions in a single ride. That’s how you know these problems. Another discussion I have with some of my clients is occasionally people will get bruised. And that can happen. Perhaps on gravel rides, or mountain bike rides, if you’re riding hardtail.
Colby Pearce 31:38
Or even on road rides, maybe the shorts are super blown out or someone just does an unusually long ride. They’re riding for an hour or two a day regularly. And then they decide to go on a monster, you know, six or eight hour adventure ride on the weekend. And they’ll get bruised and you can either bruise your parent, your parent em, or you can bruise the skin under the ischial tuberosities. That’s pretty common. If that does happen, you’ve got to take some time off and let that bruise heal. Epsom salt or an Epsom salt bath or compress can be very helpful to help to reduce bruising, which is fundamentally just a lot of magnesium, you could also try some magnesium gel. Another tool that I found that can be really helpful for bruising is a cream it’s called traumeel, or trauma med. And it comes in either a cream or an alcohol based gel that can be helpful. I’ll put a link to that in the show notes.
Colby Pearce 32:30
That’s that product is good to have around just for bruising in general as well. If you bump your knee on a coffee table is a really common one. Maybe it hurts for a few minutes, and then you go ride and that inflammation is still there. And then you ride on and it gets worse. It’s like a little fire. So ways to help with bruising. One last aspect that can result in
Colby Pearce 32:57
with saddle sores is saddle construction. And of course, the type of saddles got to be right, we really needed to fit and match the shape of your undercarriage, it’s also got to be in the right place, as we discussed in the mechanical aspects of bike fit. But generally speaking, padding is not really the best solution, meaning more padding, sometimes people tend to think that more padding is better. And I think the line of thought here is that because there’s the pressure point, we add padding to the around that pressure point or under it, we’re going to distribute the pressure more effectively. And that certainly can be the case sometimes. But in my opinion, from what I’ve seen most of the time, that’s not the ideal solution. Why? Well think about the shape of the saddle, the base shape of the saddle, and the shape of your issue on those bones that are shaped like rocking chair feet. Those are two pretty hard surfaces. And what is padding padding is a gasket, it’s a void space filler, it’s a one size fits all solution. So when we have a saddle base shape that doesn’t really match the shape of your ischium. a manufacturer solution to sell more saddles without worrying about the particularities of that human beings bony structure is to just add a ton of padding. And when we fill that void space with a bunch of padding and make it a one size fits all solution, the problem is padding is generally by nature. It encourages bouncing, it encourages pelvic motion, and when you have an unstable pelvis or a poor core function or really tight hamstrings or hip flexors, you know pick your poison here and the pelvis is bouncing and then we add a lot of padding underneath there. We just encourage more bouncing and more chafing and one of my primary goals is a bike fitter is to have a stable quiet pelvis under load, especially submaximal load we accept that as load becomes more maximal there’s going to be some pelvic motion and that’s okay. So we also select a saddle that allows for that motion without building a lot of chafing or pressure or fulcrums have pressure points. But really the overall arching philosophy is to have a quiet pelvis. So generally speaking, the more padding the worse you are, the further you move from that goal of having a stable pelvis. And this is again one reason why I think SMP is such a tidy solution for so many athletes. When I test someone on an SMP cell, I put them on the less padded versions, and SMP To be clear, make cells that have no padding, they make a model that is a carbon base, and they also make one that is a thermal plastic base with leather only. And as Don will discuss in his section on shimmy design, we’ve added padding to the shimmy. When shammies went away from being a piece of leather and became a synthetic pad. We put padding in the shimmy. Most shimmies are around 10 to 15 millimeters thick. So you’ve already got at least a centimeter of padding under your butt. Now, of course, that’s compressible foam. So when you sit on it, it’s not a full centimeter. But what I’m saying is we’ve moved the padding away from the saddle and into the shimmy to a degree. So you may be able to ride on a saddle if it’s the right shape with little or no padding and be perfectly fine. And generally speaking, if we’re trying to minimize Salesforce, we want to move towards less padding. I have this experience over and over again, where when I get the right shape saddle under a rider, they’re completely blown away at how little padding they actually need. So if you’re using a really padded cell, there’s a good chance it’s not the right shape, and the padding is just there to kind of make up the difference. That’s what I’m getting at. We also want to pay particular attention to the distribution of padding in that crease area there between the parent and in the upper upper thigh. If the sound is too wide right there, you’re just going to be wrestling the bear the whole time. And you can kind of figure that out, it’s hard to see when you’re sitting on a saddle, you really can’t see what the clearance is there. But if you put your bike on a trainer, and you align the mirror, so you can see yourself dead on from the front angle, and perhaps the mirror needs to be angled such that you can see the gap, then you can figure out is your inner thigh really rubbing right up against the nose, that saddle or is there a slight gap there,
Colby Pearce 37:21
you can figure that out by looking in the mirror, you can also probably figure it out by maybe maybe you can put your fingers in between there while you’re pedaling, that might be a little awkward, but try to iron out how much clearance you have between your thigh and the side of the saddle. And I’m not talking about at the back, I’m not talking about the very nose I’m talking about right in the middle. And if there’s a lot of rubbing or friction there, you’re kind of probably the center section sounds too wide. And you’re going to have constant problems. Especially if you’ve got labor knee warmers on because then you’ve introduced another layer of fabric and a big thick band of elastic there with silicone and the silicone is just going to get rubbed against your thigh the whole time. If the if there’s a big gap between your thigh and the side of that saddle, then that might suggest this out is a little too narrow and you might tend to fall off one side or the other. If there’s no gap at all, then you’re going to get some chiefing. So again, we’re looking for that perfect balance. Hopefully that’s a bit actionable. And you can figure out if you’re challenging that area, you can sort of do some sleuthing to figure out what solid ones might be ideal for you. One last point I would like to make about cell sores is
Colby Pearce 38:36
If you are a hairy person in particular in your undercarriage, this can cause problems. Particular if there’s a lot of hair in the crease the area between the upper upper thigh and the Pentium or grundles or whatever you want to call it. This can cause issues because as there are micro movements of the skin and soft tissue during pedaling these micro moments pull on hair and then irritate the skin and this cause redness and causes inflammation and other problems just general discomfort. Occasionally if it goes really bad, it can break the skin and then he sells or conformed.
But generally speaking,
Colby Pearce 39:19
less hair is better. I don’t recommend shaving. In my experience shaving can really irritate the skin and make it too exposed. And if you shave, especially right up in the crease and then ride which is the beginning of rash are very, very high. You can undergo a more expensive and painful method, otherwise known as laser hair removal, called by racing colleagues have done this, namely Brad huff and Mike Freeman.
And I think around
Colby Pearce 39:49
2006, maybe five they went got laser hair removal on their grundles. This means you’re sitting spreading over a couple hours while a technician shoots you in The underside with a laser, which is quite painful. Apparently, I did not go this route, although they both say that it did drastically improve their interaction with their bicycle cell. My option is to use a men’s body shaver or beard trimmer, women’s heritable devices don’t get those names, they get other names, bikini line trimmers, I suppose. And just take the hair down to a very, very short length in the critical areas. And for me, this makes a huge difference in my writing, especially in my longer rides, I’ve just find that everything is quiet, I don’t get a lot of complaints. If I let things get a little longer in that area, the hair gets longer than the skin just gets irritated over time. You can offset that by using shaving cream to lubricate everything, but then you’re dependent on that product. And as I’ve discussed, Jamie cream isn’t my first choice, I’d rather just have no cream to deal with and no hair to deal with. So if you managed to keep your hair trimmed and tidy your undercarriage that can really minimize the chance of discomfort, swelling, inflammation and source. So I decided to ask Don Pelle, the owner and chief creative designer at panache cycle were to come on board and tell us a little bit about his experience with shammies, shorts, fabrics and all the things that can contribute to a happy ride or a not so happy ride. Don, we walk us through a bit of those things. Tell us a bit about how shampoos are made and some of the foams and the technicalities of fabrics if you would.
Yeah, so today’s shammies are fairly robust compared to the days where the name chami comes from, though, originally, a shammy was in fact a shammy piece of leather that was sewn into a wool bike short in the beginning to give a little bit of padding between you and your bike saddle. And back in those days, the saddle actually had a lot more padding. So the saddle was really your comfort zone. So you had saddles with more foam, less foam, more comfort, less foam. And over the years, it has shifted to the duty of the Shammi to really take on that role of comfort. And I think a lot of that was driven just by weight and weight weenies so you get the saddle to weigh very little. And you take out a lot of the components that are have to do with comfort. So it’s pretty much settled in these days to foam various density foams that are either sewn or laminated or glued to a piece of fabric. And in the in the beginning, it was very simple piece of foam sewn on fabric. These days, it’s gotten more advanced where you know, people some people heat mold, a shammy, which means you take a fabric, some glue, some foam, and you press them together to create a contour. And various points of have more or less padding. So that’s where we’re at today. And you know, the fabrics can be fairly technical. They used to be nylon, now they’re polyester. Carbon is inside of them to really get them to either dry quicker antimicrobial components as well.
Colby Pearce 44:09
And you’d mentioned that there are some pros and cons to some of those different construction methods when a shammy is formed or shaped ostensively that’s to fit around your nether regions more effectively to fit to cup, your butt basically in your crotch, right. But when you bond those fabrics together, there’s some consequences there correct?
Yeah, correct. So, essentially, companies have started to like, like what you said to heat mold. at Monash we don’t do that. we sew our fabrics together with our foams. And there is a light lamination so that the the fabric doesn’t shift. We found that to be the most comfortable solution whereas a lot of shammies today are actually over engineered. And, and one of the reasons is to make them look more technical. So you have this process of heat molding, which adds more glue, you know, and by that process of doing that, it takes out some stretch, it adds in a layer of non breathability. And these actually all kind of go against comfort. And what we’ve found is really the, the thing that provides the most comfort is stretch, so that the shimmy needs to stretch, a lot like the shorts, they’re being sewn into stretch. And that provides the most comfort, if you, if you add in the heat molding, they stretch less, and then they don’t stretch with your body. And so then in the pedal motion, they actually cause a point of friction, rather than taking away that friction. Eat molding is is not really necessarily the best answer. And a big reason is that stretch component and other is adding that additional layer of glue, which is not breathable, and it provides problems. So
Colby Pearce 46:11
yes, yeah. Okay, so it seems like there in some senses. The market is maybe demanding more technical, more, you know, air quotes, advanced products, and sometimes the company’s carrying for that, because they feel that that’s what the customer wants. But really, it sounds like what you’re saying is that that’s not, the customer doesn’t always necessarily know what they want. They think they want something that looks really cool, and has lots of advanced reliefs and technology in it. But sometimes it’s just something it’s a really simple solution that turns out to be best.
Yeah, that’s exactly it. You know, I think brands want to make that Shammi look incredibly technical. And it does when you heat mold, it looks, you know, pretty technical, versus what we do, where we take a very light stitch that’s recessed, and connect the foam the high density to the fabric and the other lighter density foam. We’ve done this in testing. And it really does come out that the it’s not simple. It’s just that if you over engineer it, you put in things that are not comfortable, even though they look like they should be comfortable. So you have you have that dynamic going on. And I can relay a story to highlight that point where, before I started, I worked at another bike brand. And we did a lot of testing I probably wrote in 100 plus channels just to kind of get to know the lay of the land, what’s comfortable, what’s not comfortable. And we kind of honed in on this kind of couple few shammies that were based on this technology that we have. That’s fairly simple. And they were the most comfortable. But we weren’t at the time in that brand allowed to use those shammies ironically, because they had this whole seamless thing going on, oh, it’s not seamless. There’s a seam in there. So we can’t use it. Let’s use a less comfortable Shami because it’s seamless. So when it came time to start pin ash, I went to the provider of those shammies, which is cytec, an Italian company that has a long history of making shammies. And I said Hey, what’s up with this? You know, this line of shammies that I don’t see in anyone else’s shorts, but you know, they’re super comfortable. And they’re like, yeah, it’s it’s it is a very comfortable Shami, not many brands use it. But it is the Shami that our local pros have us put in their team shorts. So they tear out whatever Shami came in, they’re, you know, they’re sponsored brand shorts, and they sewed this one in. And so I was like, hey, that’s, that’s great for panache, because that’s what we’re about. We’re about making, you know, the most comfortable technical garments without the marketing spiel. So you know, I think that says a lot about just Shammi construction in general. Sometimes you try to do too much and put the high density pieces or gel inserts in very specific parts of the Shami but that doesn’t necessarily align to comfort.
Colby Pearce 49:32
Cool and then I get a lot of questions about how to take care of your your shins how to take care of your shorts, you know, and I think different manufacturers that have different Washington structions I do hear a lot of athletes talk about washing their, their shorts on cold because they’re concerned about preserving the life of the lycra or spandex aspect of your shorts, you know, retaining the compression and the shape of the leg bands and things like that. You can’t On Now, what’s your philosophy on how the clothing should be cared for?
Yeah, you know, you
hear a lot in the cycling world this whole like, Oh, yeah, I, I, you know, I hand wash my stuff, and I hang dry, my shorts and my jersey. And to be honest with you, I mean, I, you know, I’m the founder of the company and I don’t, I don’t do that I basically put all my stuff in with the regular wash, and the regular dryer. One, it’s easier. And yes, if you’re really particular about your stuff, you’re gonna you know, lengthen or give it more longevity, but but not by a whole lot. And then sometimes in that equation of not, you know, washing your stuff, you can actually do more harm. And one of the examples is with the Shammi, especially if it’s not really engineered to last forever. And you know, is foam so foam packs out over time. If you want a foam that doesn’t pack out over time, it’s very harsh, it doesn’t stretch enough, it doesn’t have the the the components that you want in a phone that you’d want to put on your your butt. So the Shammi and the short have a life. And the big analogy that I like to give is, it’s a lot like a running shoe. You know, runners know that running shoes do not last forever, more, you use that bit short, that you know, it’s not going to last as long. There is no such thing as something that lasts forever in a bike in a bike short. In fact, the more you ride, the more often you’re going to have to buy more big shorts. I mean, pros go through, you know what 2030 dip shorts a year quite a bit. Along with that is one of the reasons you do want to wash your stuff your kit, is that when you go on a ride you sweat, and a component of sweat is salt. And when salt goes off of your body into room temperature it crystallizes. So if you’re just washing your bib shorts in cold water, you don’t necessarily get rid of all of that salt. Yes, detergents help that. But a lot of times you just miss apart. And that salt crystal can sit there. And it’s actually a reason why a lot of people kind of get a saddle sore in the first place is either don’t wash your shorts at all, you ride them again, the next day, it’s this salt crystals. So in order to get a sore usually involves some kind of micro breaking of the skin and allows the bacteria to get in. So it’s a good reason to either hand wash your big shorts, if you really don’t want to put them in the wash in warm water, or even hot water out of the tap. Or just put them in the wash in warm water. I also put my stuff through the dryer, you know, over the years, it really does not have a profound effect on the lifetime of that that bib short.
Colby Pearce 53:03
Okay, so another
conversation that I’ve had come up with my clients frequently is the types of detergents that they might use during washing, or some clients,
Colby Pearce 53:14
I think, maybe they don’t think about it, but they’re using fabric softeners or dryer sheets to give the fabric you know, a nice, happy perfume sense or ostensibly to make their shorts softer, maybe they’re thinking that they have a sore thing to soften the fabric. So they add these, these fabric softeners to their washing process. How What is that?
How does that look?
Is that a good thing to do with your kit or
Yeah, so it’s not really a great thing to do to your kit. And what it’s doing is it’s putting chemicals into your kit so that it softens the fibers and usually makes it smell, you know, nice. But the problem is those things that you add to the fibers, a lot of times hinder those fibers ability to do what they’re supposed to do. So, you know panache, we use kind of high end fibers that are help move the moisture off of your skin from the inside layer to the outside layer. You can think of it as like wicking. So the water on the inside your sweating goes to the inside of the garment and through the size of the filament and and other kind of like micro fabric pieces goes to the outside. So what a fabric softener does is it interferes with that whole thing and doesn’t allow the moisture to transfer from the inside to the outside. And you’ll see on like high end like membrane garments like gore tex. They specifically say don’t use fabric softeners and I think this is a good illustration your mind of what these things actually are. They’re little chemicals That in a membrane fabric actually clog up those membranes. And then all of a sudden, your GoreTex jacket doesn’t work. Because those all those holes are filled up. So it’s the same thing, even in a regular fabric, it just interferes with the functionality of the fabrics. Right now, if you have been doing this for years, you, you may notice that you know, your stuff is not performing as well, you can just run it through the wash a few times, and it’ll get rid of those chemicals. And then you
Colby Pearce 55:34
can start over you and I’ve had multiple discussions about that concept of membrane about breathability of fabrics and the technical performance of fabrics. And I just want you to comment on that. This is a little bit of a side point on our discussion about about shaming, specifically, but it does relate in the sense that all athletic clothing, tactical clothing is a balance of performance. In the sense that we’re trying to we’re trying to accomplish, we need to cover the athlete and protect their skin to a degree. But we also want the fabric to perform while they’re exercising and deal with perspiration and sweat, we want to keep them cool and move sweat away from the body. And so all fabrics really are porous membranes and GoreTex being kind of the cold weather example. And you’ve explained this to me in the past. Fundamentally, like a three layer laminate fabric is the middle layer, the membrane or the actual gortex component, whether you’re talking about regular gore tex pro or or zR or windstopper, or whatever little fancy letters they put on the end of it. Basically, it’s a plastic bag with really, really microscopic holes in it. That’s what it is. And the holes are so small that the vapor can pass through the holes. But water coming from the exterior rain or snow can’t get through because the drops are there, the molecules are clumped together and drops, right. So we want the vapor to escape. So that’s what’s happening on a very microscopic level, when you put fabric softeners on your cortex jacket. That’s why the holes get plugged. It’s the same concept in a summer lightweight jersey, it’s just that the pores, the holes in the in the fabric are much larger, right because it’s a fabric. But I wondered if you could comment on just briefly the difference between the types of fabrics. So people have a better conceptual understanding. nylon is used primarily more for durability. So we would have more nylon content in for example, the heel of a sock where you might wear a hole in it or the toe sock, right. And you might have more nylon around the area of the shimmy in a short because that’s where you get a lot of kind of motion and abrasive motion of the legs moving slightly, you know, hopefully less. So on the sides of the saddle, for example. And so that nylon resists abrasion, the downside of nylon, it doesn’t do as good of a job of transporting moisture. It’s also a poor insulator, right?
Yeah, true. So to make it easy, there’s really two types of fabrics that the fabric world uses. Synthetic wise polyester and nylon. And nylon is more durable than polyester. So you go Okay, we’ll just use nylon everywhere. It’s more durable, has two issues when it comes to cycling kit. One is it loves water. So it’s just kind of hold on to the water. It’s like a sponge. And so you will be your garment will become wet. So polyester doesn’t like water. Thus why you have like nike dri fit, that’s really just their word for polyester, it’s more breathable, it doesn’t like water, so it’s gonna dry faster. And they’re in the polyester world. There are a lot of different qualities of polyester. So you know, nike dri fit tends to be a high quality polyester, and pin ash we use, you know, high end stuff as well. You can think of like a poor or low grade polyester in those fabrics and in cycling or that are more coarse and not so soft. And then, you know, a lot of ways a good way to understand this is the way that they’re made is think of like an extra it’s they’re extruded, which is like making hamburger meat, you’re taking a blob raw raw materials, and you’re putting it through an extruder and outcomes, this thing that you create the fibers with and you can envision like a low end polyester just comes out like ground beef or high end they’re doing some fancy things to the strings either. Maybe I’m hollow, that’s coolmax fabric, or having these kind of offshoots that allow better wicking, or Denyer gradient, which is one part of the fiber is skinnier than the other end of the fiber. And thus, it’s like a straw. It’s like a straw that works on its own, it just pulls the water
out sucks to harm you too. So
yeah, so you to make a really nice fabric, it’s is you want to use polyester, because you can do that too. And you can’t do that as well with with nylon. The other thing about nylon in the cycling world as you can’t print on nylon, right. So anywhere where you see printing, if you try to print on nylon, it just doesn’t take the ink sometimes doesn’t take the ink at all, or it’ll be blurry. So. But that said, That’s a lot. That’s why a lot of big shorts are all one color, black, blue, whatever. And they’re, they’re made on nylon, because the short is on the saddle. And that’s where the most friction, really all the friction occurs. So you need something really durable there. And that’s why you find a lot of bike shorts where the middle is black. And the side panels are print because side panels don’t hit saddle. But you’ll notice when you’re in an, you know, an all black short, including ours, that they they don’t dry as quickly. Now, a lot of times you’re on a bike The air is coming in. And that’s why it’s kind of a good solution there. But then you take that into the Shammi realm as well. And it’s, it’s an interesting problem that you’re trying to solve for. Because you don’t want to make a shammy that soaks up all of the water, all of your sweat, because then you know, you can think about that dry on dry, that’s chafing, right? You need some kind of microclimate in there that has a little bit humidity to it. So you you don’t want it super wet. So you don’t want to use a nylon fabric, which a lot of people do, because there’s a certain fabric that Shammi makers use that it’s an islands cheaper to so they want to use the cheaper fabric, but then all of a sudden you have a sponge down there. Not good. So that’s why you do find a lot of the really fancy fabrics in a shammy, including our own, where you’re really trying to take away most of the water, but not all of the water. And then that’s where to the conversation of Shammi cream comes in. You know, in the in originally like we’re we began this with the Shammi you know, piece of leather. So when that was in a wool, short, you know, circa the 60s 70s. And before and you had that Shammi that piece of leather in there, they had to find a way to make that soft, because it’s inherently stiff when it’s washed and then it’s dry. It’s very stiff. It’s like a cardboard box. It’s abrasive. So that’s when people started using shamy cream. Okay, we put this on before we ride. We soften up the Shami now you can ride and you’re not going to chafe and it’s doing its job. So, then when we first went away from that Shammi fabric, and we use foams and other pieces of fabric and then stitches to kind of make cups and lines in there and the stitching wasn’t in the right spot. People kept using the Shammi cream, okay, we need the shaving cream, and because we haven’t dialed things in yet. And now today the way shammies are you have eliminated most of the key friction points to the point where you really don’t need Shammi cream and I know you have your opinions on Shammi cream too from a chemical perspective. But before you get to that, it’s just not necessary most of the time. Now, for example, me personally so you know, I own my own apparel brand. And I never use Shammi cream. I haven’t used shaving cream in a decade. So you know I’m a data point and I haven’t had either a saddle sore in a very long time. Probably prefinished. That’s not to say zero. And actually you and I were just talking about this the other day. I had one about four weeks ago, but only for one day. I’m getting I’m getting one. So it and it went away very quickly as I go. Thank goodness. But again, so I don’t use shaving cream, you know are shammies they stretch they work. You really don’t need shaving cream. Now. That said, there, we live in Colorado, it’s dry here. And so it’s not like you know, if you’re in a very humid area, you might want to use Shammi cream. And there is a time when I suggest you definitely use Shammi cream. And that’s actually when it’s raining. And the reason is, when it rains, the grit comes off of your tie off the road into your tires, and flips up on your backside, and then drains down sometimes and sometimes the grip makes its way to your taint. Right, okay. And then that can cause huge problems. So that is a situation where Shammi cream comes in handy, because then you just lubricate it, and it just, you know, you don’t break the skin. So anyway, that’s my two cents and perspective on
champion. Thank you so much.
Colby Pearce 1:06:01
I think that covers everything. Don Powell from panache. lacquerware has graciously agreed to leave you a discount code. Since you’re listening to this podcast, you get the hook up, go to panache cyberware.com and use the code alignment. To get 20% off your purchase of a panache kit. The catch, you have to know how to spell alignment. And hopefully Don spelled it the same way you did. Go check out your panache cycle where it’s the only kit I wear. And Don has some really cool creative stuff on there. Also, don’t be afraid to sign up for his email list, you’ll get all kinds of announcements on his new cool products. That’s panache cycle where.com there will be a link in the show notes. And maybe we’ll put the code in the show notes to
check it out.
Colby Pearce 1:06:55
Also, in the show notes, I’m going to drop a link to purchase some life assembled Bluetooth ion if you’re interested. This is a store it’s called carrabelle. And it is my own peers coaching page on this store. If you go there, you will enter your email and choose a password then you have an account. And I’m going to drop a code in the shownotes for 10% off your first purchase. The code is Pierce 10 that’s with a capital P. You have to spell my name right. So much spelling. And then you can check out some Bluetooth if you’re interested. There are also other Quicksilver products in that store, feel free to go nuts and get whatever you want. They also make some really good immune products. I take quiksilver products daily myself and many of my clients do as well. They are based in Colorado and they make very high quality life assemble goodies. Check it out. If you have questions about specific products, please let me know but feel free to use that discount code to get yourself some goods that’s pure stem with a capital E.
Colby Pearce 1:08:06
Alright, space monkeys. We’ve talked enough about undercarriages for the day you’re probably sick of that topic. Hopefully you found these tips helpful and actionable. If you have questions or comments about your saddle to undercarriage interface, you know where to reach me cycling in alignment at Fast Talk Labs comm send me a note and we can do the dissection. We can have the discussion, we can make all the points and solve all your problems, hopefully. Otherwise, don’t forget to pedal your bike fast and smooth.