Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

mediumbird
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Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 3:05pm

So, I have been cycling for a while and done several long distance tours both supported and unsupported. I am aware of the saddle versus our sensitive area issues and had no problem on these trips with the use of chamois cream and good bike shorts, plus a saddle that seems comfortable. However....I am finding that the awful roads locally, both Sustrans and quiet back roads cause me more of an issue. The road surfaces are just awful. Uneven, holes that have been filled that are now just lumps, making the ride like riding on giant cobblestones. Just back from a 3 day mini break and the Sustrans path along Loch Lomond was one of the worse. Apart from not allowing decent progress, the constant jostling up and down seems to cause more of an issue in my sensitive area. It’s actually really putting me off getting back on the bike, especially if I know my route is going along some of these roads(often used by my local bike club I am a member of). Do men suffer the same issue in these awful surfaces? I wonder if not as they seem to fly over them with ease, where like today, I stand out of the saddle to ease the discomfort, but there’s only so long you can do that for. Any suggestions or should I just ditch the road bike and get a mountain bike with full suspension? I’ve honestly ridden on smoother forest tracks on my road bike....Maybe this is a new reason why women don’t cycle as the road surfaces are just awful and therefore painful!

Carlton green
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby Carlton green » 19 Sep 2019, 3:33pm

Well done on what you’re managing to achieve, I can’t seem to get the ladies in my own family cycling at all.

As for whether it’s just you that’s a hard one to give a meaningful answer too because we don’t know enough about the bike that you’re riding. I’ll ride relatively short distances on well surfaced cycleways and tracks on my road bike, but I’ll do it relatively slowly on my 1&1/4” or 32mm wide tyres. At some point I’ll move to 700 x 35 as an ‘all surface’ size (that will allow faster travel, more comfort and less concern about wheel damage) but for the really rough tracks that you’re talking of I would suggest wider again.

A while back the CTC mag did an article on womens’ saddles, it might be worth tracking it down and getting hold of a copy.

I hope that you get better responses than mine, but at least it’s a start.

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mjr » 19 Sep 2019, 3:46pm

mediumbird wrote:Do men suffer the same issue in these awful surfaces? I wonder if not as they seem to fly over them with ease, where like today, I stand out of the saddle to ease the discomfort, but there’s only so long you can do that for. Any suggestions or should I just ditch the road bike and get a mountain bike with full suspension?

Wider or flexier tyres, better saddle, sprung saddle, suspension seatpost...

I think what you describe may be the same as what causes some men to suffer "numb willy syndrome". British roads are horribly rough and you always have to keep one out for defects and avoid riding over as many as possible. Many repairs now are defects in themselves. Government hates bikes in practice if not theory :(
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mediumbird
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 3:54pm

Carlton green wrote:Well done on what you’re managing to achieve, I can’t seem to get the ladies in my own family cycling at all.

As for whether it’s just you that’s a hard one to give a meaningful answer too because we don’t know enough about the bike that you’re riding. I’ll ride relatively short distances on well surfaced cycleways and tracks on my road bike, but I’ll do it relatively slowly on my 1&1/4” or 32mm wide tyres. At some point I’ll move to 700 x 35 as an ‘all surface’ size (that will allow faster travel, more comfort and less concern about wheel damage) but for the really rough tracks that you’re talking of I would suggest wider again.

A while back the CTC mag did an article on womens’ saddles, it might be worth tracking it down and getting hold of a copy.

I hope that you get better responses than mine, but at least it’s a start.

I’m riding on 25 Schwalbe Luganos, carrying rear panniers. I cycled 69 miles day one, 66 day two and then 54 today(worst road surface today). I’m using the same saddle and bike set up I did LEJOG, the Rhine cycle and St Malo to Nice, plus several shorter trips in Europe on their lovely cycle tracks. Ours are just atrocious. You look at them, and think, that should be ok, but they are god awful lumpy things. I like to be able to cover reasonable distances with my bike set up, will bigger tyres etc not compromise that?
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby Vorpal » 19 Sep 2019, 4:11pm

There are loads of threads on here about saddle sore (one of these days I will finish indexing them :oops: ).

It depends upon the type of soreness you are experiencing.

If it is bruising, or feels like that, fatter tyres, a suspension seatpost and/or saddle might help.
Here are a couple of threads about suspension
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=131986&p=1385102
viewtopic.php?f=5&t=126001

Many people on this forum dismiss them as being useless, but gel saddles can also help with bruising.

If the problem is more chafing, it may be a little harder to find the solution.

I spent quite a bit of time and energy resolving chafing problems that only began after having babies. In my opinion, the main things (more or less in order) that influence it are:

1) you have to get used to the saddle and vice versa; there is also a certain amount of 'hardening' of saddle contact points. If you generally ride on better surfaces, I might expect rough surfaces to give you some difficulty. It might help to train for rough surfaces by increasing rough surface distances gradually.
2) Saddle position is crucial and after a few days in the saddle, a few mm here or there can make a big difference
Make sure that your sit bones are the primary contact between you and the saddle at all times: If other places are in hard contact with the saddle, see if you can adjust the saddle by tilting it a little up or down, or moving it a little down or up, forwards or back and solve the problem.
Make only one change at a time, and mark the position on the rails, so that you can change it back if you make it worse. Or see 531colin's bike set-up guide
If adjustments do no solve the problem, see point 3.
3) Saddles and bums both come in a wide variety of shapes
It's entirely possible that your saddle and bum are not entirely compatible, but this is something that is only noticeable with rough surface riding. If this is the problem, be prepared to try a number of different saddles before you find one that suits. This process and the eventual solution are very individual, so one person's cure may not be yours
4) I don't honestly think much of chamois cream for most folk. I can understand it for folks who are pushing their boundaries of capability (athletes, someone undertaking a ride that is far beyond what they normally do, etc.). IMO, chamois cream is more to address a symptom, when it would be better to find a cure. If you generally need chamois cream for longer rides, there may be a saddle / position issue that has gone unaddressed. Again, this is a personal thing, and I acknowledge that just because I don't use it, that does not mean it isn't useful, but I do think that it is important to ensure that there isn't an underlying issue.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

mediumbird
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 4:27pm

Thanks vorpal. Not bruising but chafing. I’m off the age(56) that finds chamois cream helpful. I also have a gel saddle. I might try and see if a local bike fit guy can help....
Most of my riding is rough riding because of the road surfaces, but the thought of having to do more of that type of training to toughen up that area is not appealing....
When I get a chance I’ll look into the forum a bit more and Colin’s info on bike fitting. Not sure I can do it all myself...
It’s just weird how it’s become a new problem with nothing else changing in bike set up apart from the quality of the road surfaces. To be fair, even if I didn’t have this recent issue, I just loathe riding on poor UK roads(in my region anyway)

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mjr » 19 Sep 2019, 4:30pm

Colin's guide is pretty good DIY. The trouble with bike fitters is that there are many competing methods and it's the racier fits which pay best, as I understand it. If you can find one who is happy doing tourist fits, it may be worth it.

mediumbird wrote:I’m riding on 25 Schwalbe Luganos, carrying rear panniers. I cycled 69 miles day one, 66 day two [...] I like to be able to cover reasonable distances with my bike set up, will bigger tyres etc not compromise that?

On good surfaces, it basically would (but there is an ongoing debate about what the optimal road bike tyre width is - when I was growing up, people seemed to think 32mm, now it's considered to be 28mm and it's been down to 23mm in between!), but on "god awful lumpy things", you will be able to ride further because 1. you'll lose less energy being bounced around all over the place; and 2. you'll be more comfortable so able to ride for longer.

The other complication is that there are tyres and there are tyres...

But I think that's all for bruising more than chafing, isn't it?
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby Psamathe » 19 Sep 2019, 5:29pm

I (as a bloke) have found that when touring, a lot of bumpy road surfaces over a couple of days can bruise my sit bones. French have fantastic tarmac cycle paths but their love of tree lines paths and Platanus trees (with shallow roots) can sometimes make paths into several miles of "speed bumps". A few days of such paths and my sit bones get tender.

I have found my sit bones "toughen-up" with cycling. After getting home after this year 2 month tour I didn't go out on the bike for over a month and when I did for a few days after that my sit bones were quite tender.

This year I did suffer saddle sores though I realised what was happening quickly and the cause so it didn't become too serious. I had two pairs of cycle shorts, both same brand & style, identical except one was a year old and one pair brand new and the older ones had stretched a bit and were not sitting comfortably/moving around and the chafing started. I could not find any Chamois cream in Netherlands - bike shops knew and understood what I wanted but didn't sell the stuff - tried quite a few (good ones with "flashy" bikes, drop bars etc., not the "city bike" only stores). But some antiseptic cream and using the new pair of shorts and things stabilised so I could continue.

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby rfryer » 19 Sep 2019, 6:00pm

mediumbird wrote:I’m riding on 25 Schwalbe Luganos, carrying rear panniers. I cycled 69 miles day one, 66 day two and then 54 today(worst road surface today). I’m using the same saddle and bike set up I did LEJOG, the Rhine cycle and St Malo to Nice, plus several shorter trips in Europe on their lovely cycle tracks. Ours are just atrocious. You look at them, and think, that should be ok, but they are god awful lumpy things. I like to be able to cover reasonable distances with my bike set up, will bigger tyres etc not compromise that?

There's a school of thought that you could go much wider and lower pressure with your tyres (40mm+) without compromising your ability to cover distances. Google for Jan Heine if you want to be persuaded :D

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby Carlton green » 19 Sep 2019, 10:21pm

mediumbird wrote:I’m riding on 25 Schwalbe Luganos, carrying rear panniers. I cycled 69 miles day one, 66 day two and then 54 today(worst road surface today). I’m using the same saddle and bike set up I did LEJOG, the Rhine cycle and St Malo to Nice, plus several shorter trips in Europe on their lovely cycle tracks. Ours are just atrocious. You look at them, and think, that should be ok, but they are god awful lumpy things. I like to be able to cover reasonable distances with my bike set up, will bigger tyres etc not compromise that?


I take it that you’re talking 25mm wide tyres and if that’s the case they I’d say that something so narrow shouldn’t be used off of paved surfaces (ie. they’re not suitable for off road riding). Wider tyres might, sometimes, be slower tyres but IMHO the benefits of a suitably cushioned ride make the notional additional drag well worth the trade. I don’t know what clearance there is on your bike for wider tyres, or how they might work with the rims, but am certain sure that your best first change would be fatter tyres. I’m amazed that you are managing off road on 25’s.

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 10:34pm

Carlton green wrote:
mediumbird wrote:I’m riding on 25 Schwalbe Luganos, carrying rear panniers. I cycled 69 miles day one, 66 day two and then 54 today(worst road surface today). I’m using the same saddle and bike set up I did LEJOG, the Rhine cycle and St Malo to Nice, plus several shorter trips in Europe on their lovely cycle tracks. Ours are just atrocious. You look at them, and think, that should be ok, but they are god awful lumpy things. I like to be able to cover reasonable distances with my bike set up, will bigger tyres etc not compromise that?


I take it that you’re talking 25mm wide tyres and if that’s the case they I’d say that something so narrow shouldn’t be used off of paved surfaces (ie. they’re not suitable for off road riding). Wider tyres might, sometimes, be slower tyres but IMHO the benefits of a suitably cushioned ride make the notional additional drag well worth the trade. I don’t know what clearance there is on your bike for wider tyres, or how they might work with the rims, but am certain sure that your best first change would be fatter tyres. I’m amazed that you are managing off road on 25’s.

I’m not cycling off road, I’m cycling on tarmacadam cycle paths that are awful, and lumpy potholed/badly repaired single track roads. It’s these types of surfaces that are putting me off cycling. In general I will cycle on main roads, but some are just too fast and too dangerous for me to be happy to cycle on. Loch Lomond road is a prime example hence attempting to use the cycle path. I have quite happily ridden forest tracks on my 25 wide tyres with no difficulty. Unfortunately the bike can’t take any wider tyres.

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 10:36pm

I’m working on a theory that I’m stretching too far and too much weight on my hands thereby tipping my pelvis forward and causing the issue, it’s just exacerbated by our awful road surfaces......

Carlton green
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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby Carlton green » 19 Sep 2019, 10:42pm

mediumbird wrote:

I’m not cycling off road, I’m cycling on tarmacadam cycle paths that are awful, and lumpy potholed/badly repaired single track roads. It’s these types of surfaces that are putting me off cycling. In general I will cycle on main roads, but some are just too fast and too dangerous for me to be happy to cycle on. Loch Lomond road is a prime example hence attempting to use the cycle path. I have quite happily ridden forest tracks on my 25 wide tyres with no difficulty. Unfortunately the bike can’t take any wider tyres.


However....I am finding that the awful roads locally, both Sustrans and quiet back roads cause me more of an issue. The road surfaces are just awful. Uneven, holes that have been filled that are now just lumps, making the ride like riding on giant cobblestones. Just back from a 3 day mini break and the Sustrans path along Loch Lomond was one of the worse. Apart from not allowing decent progress, the constant jostling up and down seems to cause more of an issue

Sorry, my misunderstanding. Basically I think that if the bike won’t take even fractional wider tyres then your options are limited. I don’t know enough about sprung saddles or shock posts to recommend them but suggest that you research them. After that I’d be inclined to accept that your bike isn’t suitable for you to use on those tracks.

Edit Slowster’s response below expresses more of my thoughts too. I think that the bike you have has done you proud, but really you’re asking too much of it.
Last edited by Carlton green on 19 Sep 2019, 10:56pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby slowster » 19 Sep 2019, 10:50pm

To elaborate further on the tyre width:

Your bike is a Giant SCR 3.0, which I think is an aluminium framed/carbon forked bike with relatively close clearances, which will restrict your ability to fit wider tyres than 25mm. I suspect that 28mm would be the maximum possible, and even that might require you to remove the mudguards (even if the mudguards did not actually touch the tyres, you need a reasonable amount of clearance between tyre and mudguard to reduce the risk of a piece of dirt picked up by a tyre locking the wheel).

Although your bike has mudguard and rack eyes, I think it was designed and marketed more as a sporty/fast day/race bike than as a touring bike, hence it having clearance only for fairly narrow tyres.

We don't know what you weigh, or more importantly what is the combined weight of you and your bike plus loaded panniers, but more weight is generally going to mean higher pressures are needed, especially for the rear wheel which is taking more of the weight. Schwalbe suggest tyre pressures for given tyre widths and rider weights here, and you can see that much lower pressures are suggested for wider tyres/lower rider weight (to which luggage weight will need to be added for loaded touring). Presumably on rough roads and tracks you are keeping the pressures high also to reduce the risk of pinch punctures.

I think a lot of people, indeed probably most of them, would experience discomfort touring with loaded panniers on 25mm tyres covering those distances on rough terrain.

The short term answer may be to try 28mm tyres (and if necessary remove the mudguards), but in the longer term maybe you should consider whether you would be better off getting a bike designed for touring. I would expect most off the shelf touring bikes to be able to take 32mm tyres at minimum, and preferably 35mm or even 37mm, and if it's a disc braked tourer then it can be designed with even wider clearances (although it does not automatically follow that a disc braked tourer will have been designed to exploit potential tyre width to the full - it depends upon the model).

Note also that the choice of tyre is important in wider widths. Something like a Schwalbe Marathon Supreme is a relatively fast rolling supple tyre and would probably be a good choice. In contrast the Schwalbe Marathon Plus with its thick stiff layer of puncture protecting material is a slower tyre which for the same width is likely to need to be pumped up to much higher pressures to reduce the dragginess (whereas you want to be able to take full advantage of the ability to run a wider tyre at a lower pressure).

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Re: Is this issue peculiar to women, or is it me?

Postby mediumbird » 19 Sep 2019, 11:09pm

Thanks slowster and Carlton green.
I have had the Giant bike for 12 years and it has done me well on many cycle touring trips. I got it from a bike shop near Hexham that came recommended. Basically it was an off the shelf frame and the owner put different gearing, handlebars etc to allow for light touring, so I don’t carry much in the panniers. I like the lighter weight of the bike against the really heavy touring bikes designed for big loads. I weigh about 68kg and have about 9-10kg in the bags.
I think I may need to go bike shopping......not sure how to convince my OH as regards that though :lol:
What about cyclocross type bikes? Any good for lightweight touring but better geometry, bigger tyres and don’t weigh a ton?
As regards tyres, I have used the marathon plus tyres on two of my long distance trips. Great for no punctures but I hate the ride of them even more on our rough roads, so ditched them!