Wait a minute. There's a difference between men and womens cycling shorts??

Wait a minute.  There's a difference between men and womens cycling shorts??

It's true.

Honestly!  Trust us!  There are so many differences between the cycling clothing that is designed for men, and the clothing that is designed for women.  Today, we're going to chat about the padding on the shorts......

When I first started cycling, I'm not going to lie to you, I really didn't know that there was much of a difference between the cycling clothing for men and for women.  In my mind, all this lycra clobber was really just snug fitting gear that clung to every nook and cranny of my body (and not always in a good way!!) and oh my goodness how am I going to be able to even sit on the saddle on my bike wearing those massively padded cycling shorts?  

Turns out, those massively padded cycling shorts were actually poor quality mens shorts and as I precariously bobbled along on my saddle for my first few spins, I was getting more and more saddle sore and couldn't understand why.  Being quite clueless at this stage, I kept wearing those bloody shorts and after a few weeks, I racked my bike into my shed and didn't cycle it again for a while because my poor hiney wasn't happy.  I wasn't quite at the "sitting on a rubber ring" stage but I just didn't know what to do.

A short while later, a local bike club advertised that it was starting a womens beginner group so I went along to the introduction night and got chatting to other gals and I mentioned to one of them about being so saddle sore and what on earth was going on!  "Those" cycling shorts were a size too big and being mens shorts, the padding (which I then learned was called the "chamois pad") was designed for the male form and basically I had chafed myself to within an inch of my life.

Next day I ordered myself some new gear and long story short, I've never looked back!  Who knew there was such a difference between the padding in shorts for men and women and that the correct size was paramount?  Apparently everyone, apart from ME!

Now, we all know that men and women have different nether regions and because of that, it's so important to wear the correct shorts.  When it comes to the chamois pad in mens cycling shorts, they are designed to support the sit bones and to provide channels to remove pressure from the perineal region (this helps to increase the blood flow and therefore, helps to prevent a numb bum!).  For us gals, the chamois pads in our shorts are wider where our sit bones are and provide more consistent support all the way forward.    

Here's another thing that's not strictly related to cycling shorts but something that isn't talked about much (apart from me, I talk about this all the time and how I would probably die if it didn't exist.....in a very dramatic way!!) - CHAMOIS CREAM!  When I do pop my clogs, bury me in a vat of this stuff as there's no way I'd have ever done as much cycling if this didn't exist.    

This marvellous invention was developed when cyclists used a leather chamois and the cream helped to condition it.  Cyclists applied the cream directly to their chamois back then but these days, it's more common to apply it straight on to yer bum (you can still apply it to your chamois pad - there's no laws in place!).  How much chamois cream to use is a personal decision but you'll figure it out as you go along (there's no need to apply handfuls of the stuff - I've spotted cyclists with cream squelching out of their shorts!!). All that said, chamois cream isn't a miracle fix and it is only one piece of the comfort pie.  Good fitting shorts with a suitable chamois, a good saddle on your bike that fits you well (talk to your local bike shop - they know stuff!) and some lovely bum cream.  Those three things should keep you in the saddle for longer.  Here's some links to the bum cream I like along with a couple of others that friends use:

Muc Off Luxury Chamois Cream

Assos Chamois Cream Women

Udderly Smooth Chamois Cream

One final thing (ladies......especially ladies that are new to cycling and maybe just thinking of buying some cycling shorts......). Riding your bike in your lovely new padded cycling shorts is all well and good but you might wonder, should you be wearing underwear with them? 

The short answer is no.   You might feel super naked going out with no knicks on in these tight fitting lycra shorts but trust us, this is not the time to be wearing any underwear!  Wearing it will ultimately defeat the point of wearing cycling shorts because it adds a layer of fabric between you and your chamois pad.  The seams in underwear will chafe you furiously and finally, you'll have the dreaded VPL.  Mortifying......!

Go forth and be comfortable.  Happy cycling!

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