The Best Cyclist Butt Sauce
“When your butt is not happy, it is literally a pain in the ass,” says longtime cycling coach Darryl MacKenzie. We couldn’t say it better ourselves.
When you’re pedaling an average of 80 strokes per minute, it’s hard to avoid some irritation. But, as we’ve said elsewhere, it’s possible to stop saddle sores. Here, we’re going to talk about one specific addition to your cycling products: butt sauce. Also known as chamois cream for cyclists, it provides an effective way to alleviate the situation. But first, let’s look at some of the most common types of saddle sores you might experience on the bike.
Types of Saddle Sores
There are plenty of different ailments that you can experience from spending a lot of time on the bike, but there are three specific ones that are fairly common.
- A round or egg-shaped growth inside the skin: This is usually a swelling in the fatty tissue area underneath the skin. It can lead to red skin and possible infection, so it’s best to have this checked out by a doctor. Coach Darryl recommends staying off the bike until this heals properly.
- Bruising on the skin: “Bruises are common if your body is constantly in contact with the harder part of the saddle,” Darryl says. You need to watch this, but you can use your best judgment as to whether it will keep you off the bike. Especially if it starts to change color for the worse, you may want to take a break.
- Chafing: This is the most common issue — a rash on the skin that comes from constant rubbing against your shorts or saddle. Like many cyclists, Darryl used to experience these occasionally on long rides. If it does happen, your best remedy is to keep it clean and dry to let it air out as much as possible when off the bike. If it breaks open and starts to bleed, though, you should see a doctor.
The Top Ways to Prevent Saddle Sores
For all of the above issues, prevention is far more pleasant than treatment after the fact. That’s where butt sauce comes in. But first, you have to make sure you have your two primary tools for fighting saddle sores in place: the right saddle and properly fitted bike shorts.
Your saddle is your first and most important line of defense. For maximum comfort, you need a tensioned leather saddle that conforms itself to your body and moves with you as you pedal. In fact, since Coach Darryl started using Selle Anatomica saddles in 2014, he hasn’t had any problems with saddle sores, nor has he needed additional saddle sore protection. Glad we could help, Darryl.
After that, you need to make sure you have bike shorts that fit well and don’t rub too much. There should be nothing else between your skin and chamois (the padding in your shorts), and you may want to have shorts with a thicker chamois on hand for longer rides.
Then comes your last line of defense: the butt sauce, aka chamois cream, for cyclists.
The Best Chamois Cream
If you’ve never used it, a good butt sauce can be a life-saver on long rides. Also sometimes called anti-chafing cream, this thick substance creates a protective, lubricating barrier on the skin that reduces friction and prevents irritation.
You can apply butt sauce anywhere you tend to experience issues. You’ll want to put it on right before a ride, prior to putting on your bike shorts. If necessary, you can stop and reapply at any point in the ride. Darryl does not recommend cyclist chamois creams designed to be applied to the chamois itself. Instead, apply it to the body selectively in areas that have been problems in the past, typically the size of a quarter or so — do not smear it all over.
There are many different brands of butt sauce out there, but Coach Darryl’s favorite wasn’t even specifically designed for cycling. His pick for best cycling butt sauce is Bag Balm’s Original Skin Moisturizer, a product that was originally designed in 1900 for milking cows.
He first heard about this cream from Pete Penseyres, the legendary two-time Race Across America winner and former world-record holder.
“He has lots of reasons to have saddle sores when he’s riding 3,000-plus miles in eight days or so,” Coach Darryl says. So, he took Penseyres’ word for it and tried it out. He used it anytime he was having problems with saddle sores for years.
You can find Bag Balm at many drug stores and even behind the counter at Costco. All that you need is a very small dollop before a ride, and you should be good to go. Couple that with a good saddle and shorts and you’re ready for a long, comfortable ride.
Look for more insights from Coach Darryl over at his website.