How To Prevent Saddle Sores

July 19, 2023 0 Comments

Two cyclists riding and talking happily on a road amid hills

Saddle sores have caused problems for many a cyclist. 

You may not have any issues in the early phase of your cycling career, but once you begin to regularly pedal more than 10 miles, you’re in for a rude awakening. Bumps, swelling, bruises, skin chafing and sit-bone pain can develop quickly, and soon you can’t even ride.

That doesn’t have to be your story, though. There are a few things you can do to prevent or quickly diminish saddle sores if you’re proactive. Longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie has used all five of these methods over the years — but the last one took his riding comfort to the next level.  

Ease Into Long Rides 

If you’re just getting into distance cycling, this may be the most important tip to start: Don’t overdo it. There are plenty of miles ahead, and you don’t need to jump from a 5-mile ride to a century overnight.  

Set a goal for how far you’d like to pedal, then make a plan to get there gradually. Lengthening your rides by 10% or so per week will give you time to adjust to longer rides.

Get a Chamois That Can Go the Distance 

When you lengthen those rides, don’t forget to upgrade your chamois. As Darryl puts it, “If you’re gonna get serious about cycling, you need to get a good pair of shorts.”

In fact, you may want several pairs. Darryl has 30-mile shorts, 50-mile shorts, and ones for centuries and beyond. The longer the ride, the better the padding required to ensure he’s well protected. Once you find shorts that can handle the longest rides, it’s a good idea to stock up on a few pairs so you always have a clean one handy.

Speaking of cleanliness — be sure to keep your bike shorts clean and in good shape. Wash them on a gentle cycle and hang them to dry. This will prevent bacterial growth and help preserve the material for many rides.

Get off the Saddle! 

Don’t take that the wrong way! If you’re careful to prevent saddle sores, you won’t need to stop pedaling and get out of the saddle altogether. But, on especially long rides, one of the best things you can do is to give your butt a rest periodically. In other words, stand up and pedal — and do it more than just when you’re climbing hills. 

“You’ve got to learn the skill of standing and pedaling, especially in a group, on the flats,” says Coach Darryl.

The majority of your time pedaling is spent on the flats. If you can get comfortable standing on level ground, you’ll be able to rest your rear much more often. On double centuries, Darryl starts out standing once or twice an hour, but by the end, he’s standing once every five minutes.

Try Some Butt Sauce 

Butt sauce, better known as chamois cream or anti-chafing cream, isn’t exactly a full-blown preventive for saddle sores. You only need it when they start to become a problem — but it can stop them from getting far worse.

There are a variety of ointments out there for this purpose, but Darryl only recommends one: Bag Balm’s Original Skin Moisturizer. Originally designed for milking cows, this moisturizer works wonders for treating saddle sores. 

Darryl originally learned of Bag Balm from legendary road cyclist Pete Penseyres, and he relied on it for years. All it takes is a small dollop on any irritated areas to provide immediate relief and protection. 

The Real Solution: Get a Better Saddle

The truth is, though, Coach Darryl stopped relying on Bag Balm eight years ago. That’s when he discovered the real solution to saddle sores: the Selle Anatomica saddle

These tensioned leather saddles are designed to prevent saddle sores and sit-bone pain. Instead of resting your rear on a cushioned frame, the leather forms a comfortable, movable hammock for your buttocks. The patented hot-dry process and flex-fly slot make the leather softer than the competition and allow the saddle to move with you as you pedal, minimizing pressure on your sit bone.

“There’s no discomfort,” Darryl explains. “I can put as many miles on it as I want.”

Discovering the Selle Anatomica saddle took Coach Darryl’s riding comfort to the next level, and he hasn’t used Bag Balm since. If you really want to say goodbye to saddle sores, don’t wait to try it out.  

Want to learn more about what sets Selle Anatomica apart? Compare us to the competition.


Look for more of Coach Darryl’s tips and insights at his website.

Photo by Tuvalum on Unsplash