RAGBRAI XLIV Countdown – July 24-30, 2016
Friends of RAGBRAI

Training blog

RAGBRAI Training: Let’s Get to the Bottom of the Issue

Very frequently, the legs can carry you all the way through RAGBRAI.  They may be tired but will get you there.  On the other hand, often the more limiting factor is one’s  seat/bottom/derriere/buttocks. One of the most important reasons for riding a lot prior to RAGBRAI is to make sure your own seat is prepared for spending hours sitting on your bike saddle. It would be a shame if you couldn’t finish because your rear couldn’t handle it. A little embarrassing to explain as well.

There is no getting around the fact that when riding 50-100 miles per day, you will be sitting on your bike saddle for several hours a day. Several things can happen when your seat is not trained properly. You may notice soreness under your sit bones after a long ride. This usually goes away fairly quickly. The next thing that may happen is chaffing where your seat and legs rub from pedaling. The worst thing that can happen is development of saddle sores. These can keep you off your bike and ruin your RAGBRAI. Here are some suggestions for avoid having a pain in the rear.

First, you should wear cycling shorts. These are designed to provide padding to your tender under region. The padding also helps absorb perspiration to avoid chaffing and development of saddle sores. TIP: DO NOT WEAR UNDERWEAR UNDER YOUR CYCLING SHORTS. Cycling shorts are designed be worn directly against the skin. Underwear adds another layer of clothing that can rub and chafe, and even worse, has seams which can irritate your skin. If you don’t like wearing tight fitting Lycra shorts, there are different types of riding shorts, including baggy shorts. But they all have an inner lining with a chamois (pronounced ‘shammy’). For a ride like RAGBRAI, you will want at least two pairs of cycling shorts, preferably more. The reason being that after each day you need to wash your shorts. Due to the humid and sometimes rainy weather that occurs in Iowa in July, you can’t always count on your shorts drying overnight. So bring an extra pair or two so you always have a clean and dry pair available. What’s wrong with putting on wet shorts? It’s not a pleasant to put on a pair of cold wet shorts first thing in the morning and it also subjects your groin area to moisture right off the bat and may never dry out during the day.

Second, ride a lot in preparation. Spend a lot of time putting in the miles and sitting on your bike saddle. As mentioned above, this isn’t just about training your legs, it’s training your seat. In many cases, it’s more about training your seat. Gradually build up to longer rides. Doing a lot of riding all at once can irritate your tender seat skin. By gradually building up to longer miles, you will gradually toughen your skin. This is a great reason for riding year round by the way. You maintain your toughened seat skin and don’t have to retrain it each spring.

Third, to avoid chaffing, there are commercial products available that you can use to apply to your skin where it contacts the chamois of your shorts. There are several brands with rather interesting names such as Chamois Butt’r, Assos Chamois Cream, DZNUTS, Friction Freedom, and Ride EZ Chamois Cream from right here in Urbandale Iowa. Wipe a thin layer on your skin in your groin area prior to your ride to help provide a smoother ride.

Fourth, keep your groin area as clean and dry as possible to avoid the dreaded saddle sore. Saddle sores are infections in your skin around your seat area. These are caused by bacteria getting into your skin and not being cleaned promptly or thoroughly. These become infected and are usually right under your sit bones where you put pressure on your saddle. These are extremely uncomfortable and can make it impossible to ride. Saddle sores are so painful they can cause a Tour de France rider to quit the race. Prevention is definitely the best defense. Make sure you wear clean shorts every day. Wash your shorts after each day. Either bring along a little container of laundry detergent or you can also use shampoo in a pinch. Just hand wash in a sink, wring it out and hang out to dry inside out in the sun if possible. (Be careful if you string up a clothesline as they can be hazardous. Be sure to take down clotheslines at night in campgrounds)

You also need to clean your own skin thoroughly and quickly after each ride. The worst thing you can do is spend the rest of the day in your dirty, wet shorts after you finish your ride. Change out of your shorts right away at the end of your ride. Shower as soon as possible after you finish riding but it is more important to change quickly. Bacteria love warmth and moisture, exactly the conditions in your shorts after a ride. When you take a shower be sure to thoroughly clean your groin area. If you can’t shower right away here’s another great tip that I use. Bring some individually wrapped wipes and wipe your groin area clean when changing into street clothes. I use Preparation H Portable Wipes that come in individual packets. You can find these at your local drug store. If you don’t have these wipes, you can also use hand sanitizer such as Purell. I suggest you keep a small bottle of it with your bike gear at all times.

The Bottom Line:  With a little attention to the tips above, you will be able to develop a tough rear end to last you all the through RAGBRAI.

Coach David Ertl

David Ertl is a USA Cycling Level 1 (Elite) Coach. He coaches the Des Moines Cycle Club Race Team and is a national head coach for the the JDRF Ride To Cure Diabetes and he coaches individual cyclists. He also provides cycling training plans and ebooks at his website: http://www.CyclesportCoaching.com . He can be contacted at coach@cyclesportcoaching.com.


9 Responses on “RAGBRAI Training: Let’s Get to the Bottom of the Issue


June 28, 2013 at 7:44 am

OR, minimize many issues by riding a recumbent, and better yet, a recumbent TRIKE! See everyone on the road. My new name is “On Your Left” or OYL for short!

Urban Legends

June 28, 2013 at 7:46 am

Another product that has become a standard on my RAGBRAI is Desitin (or similar) diaper rash ointment. I apply a layer at the end of the day and it really helps to kill any nasty bacteria that may be eating away at those sensitive areas. Chamois Butt’r during the day and Desitin in the evening.


June 28, 2013 at 8:14 am

For the Ladies out there, go get yourself some Ho Ha Ride Glide…great stuff! Kyles Bikes in Ankeny has it. Also Anti Monkey Butt is a great powder…I use both when I ride.


June 28, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I’m glad you said “minimize,” Bananaman! LOL


June 28, 2013 at 2:05 pm

I momentarily panicked when I read this. I’ve been doing it all wrong! My shorts don’t have padding, I don’t use chamois butter, etc. Then I remembered that I, too, ride a recumbent.

Phew. :)


June 28, 2013 at 3:47 pm

After the shower I use Gold Bond powder. For the ride Chamois Buttr.


July 2, 2013 at 8:34 pm

thanks for the tips. i had no idea of all of this (other than getting a sore butt trying to train for this) i’m heading to the pharmacy tonight!

Laila's Grammie

August 21, 2013 at 8:22 am

WOW! Thanks for those tips! 2014 will be my first try at this ride so here’s hoping it all works out!

cheap ecigarette V2 ex series review 2012

February 2, 2014 at 5:06 am

Tɦanks foг sharing your thouɡhts aboսt store ecigs V2 eҳ series
brands 2012. Ʀegards

Visit my websitye … cheap ecigarette V2 ex series review 2012

Leave a Reply

Latest Blog Posts

  • RAGBRAI Registration for 2016 Is Open!

    Been thinking about great Iowa hospitality and all that RAGBRAI has to offer? Relax! Registration is now open for RAGBRAI XLIV!! If you’ve registered before, take note: the username and password ...

  • Coming Soon - New Online RAGBRAI Registration System

    To meet higher security demands brought about because of internet fraud, we found it necessary to upgrade our online registration system. We took this opportunity to incorporate some changes that ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIV Logo - Revealed!

    We've had hogs, corn, and tractors. We've ridden mile upon mile and ventured all across the state of Iowa. And now it's finally time to relax, and enjoy all of ...

  • RAGBRAI XLIII Survey Results

    A big Thank You to all the riders, support personnel, and volunteers who made RAGBRAI XLIII such a huge success.  We had 4735 respond to our online surveys providing a ...

  • My RAGBRAI Story: An Inspirational Tale from a First Time RAGBRAIer

    RAGBRAI XLIII was the culmination of a process that brought me from the edge of personal disaster to the brink of a new life. Just nineteen months ago I ...

  • RAGBRAI Training: Reflections on RAGBRAI from a Training Perspective

    RAGBRAI is over for another year. Congratulations on riding more than 400 miles in one week (or however many miles you rode). Not many people ever ride their ...

  • Congratulations to Ben Behrends for Winning the RAGBRAI Kid's Art Contest

    We would like to congratulate all the young artists throughout Iowa who drew, painted or scultured RAGBRAI masterpieces leading up to RAGBRAI. We hope you saw some of the ...

  • RAGBRAI® XLIII Lost and Found

    Do you recognize anything in this photo?  Several lost items were turned into us throughout the week including cell phones, keys, bike computers, eyewear and more.  All owners of wallets, ...

  • 20 RAGBRAI photos: Blue skies and countrysides

    20 RAGBRAI Photos: Blue Skies and Countrysides

  • 15 RAGBRAI photos: Creative costumes of the ride

    See some of the most outlandish outfits of RAGBRAI 2015.

Latest Videos

  • This year's logo theme is "It's time to take a break."

  • We made a new camel friend, played human foos-ball and did the required slip and sliding. Relive the 2015 RAGBRAI ride with some of our favorite moments. And get ready for the 2016 route announcement party in January.

  • "This is my gift to you guys," said pool owner Bud Henson whose house is right along the RAGBRAI route this year in Moscow, IA.

  • First time RAGBRAI rider experiences Iowa on two wheels.

  • All Ability Cycles gives bicycle rides to residents of the Hiawatha Care Center on Friday, July 24, 2015. The group gives rides to senior residents along the RAGBRAI route.

  • Jabara the camel stole the show in Mount Vernon for RAGBRAI.

  • DM Register scribes scarf more rhubarb cream pie than NPR!

  • Tony Ron, of Fort Dodge, sells jewelry made of recycled bicycle spokes to pay for a flight and visa to Ecuador.

  • Patty Ankrum explains a project in Mount Vernon to take advantages of the thousands of RAGBRAI cyclists passing through.

  • Hundreds of riders flock to Team Google's complimentary charging tent set up in the RAGBRAI meetup town.

Find us socially

Email Signup

Sign up for the latest RAGBRAI news and notes (if there is no news in a day, you won’t get an e-mail).

© 2015 RAGBRAI | Terms of Service | Privacy Policy