Ok, I am sure this is a bit on the random side, but I started riding fairly regularly last summer. I ride in regular running shorts or tights if it is cold out. I ride regularly 20-40 miles or so at the moment. How much will I regret riding in regular shorts every day for a week? I despise the look and feel of padded rear shorts. I have tried several on and the feel like I am wearing a diaper. I am planning on riding as much as possible from now until RAGBRAI week so figure I should have a pretty good idea how well this will work by then. I do have a seat with a small amount of padding on it, so I’m sure that helps a bit. Just thought I would check with some RAGBRAI regulars and see what they though.
Shanon: if you are a young’un you can probably get by without padded shorts, but us “older folks” sure do like the padding. Also, using a chamois cream is beneficial, too. I understand about your hesitancy to wear adult diapers. I, too, was hesitant at first; just remember that you won’t have to look at your padded behind, but everyone else will. The padding is there to provide a firm but cushioned ride for your behind. Try riding 100 miles without it, then ride 60 miles the next day. Let your body tell you if it wants the padding or not. After all, when all the other 12,000 riders are wearing the same thing then you end up not noticing them at all.
if you can get by without bike shorts for 3 60 mile days before RAGBRAI. if after that 3rd day and the seams are not causing problems, the wicking is okay and no chaffing going on, you might make 7 days I did the first few years I did the ride, then found out it could be a lot better. the chamois is there for more that just padding though. Don’t know the bnrand you tried, a different brand might fit better. a brief bike short intro, http://www.performancebike.com/bikes/Content_10052_10551_-1_CyclingShortsGuide
All butts are not created equal. One of our ride buddies, except for a couple rides, has never worn bicycle padded shorts. She says “I don’t need them …. it feels like a Tampex!”. The Little Stoker (my center fold) wears Tri shorts which have minimal padding designed so that you can run and swim in them. Take a look at what Aerotechdesigns.com has and then shop around a bit. If ya don’t need them don’t wear them.
If you are serious about riding longer distances with the most comfort and prevention of saddle sores and chaffing, you will eventually graduate yourself to wearing “bib shorts”. Bibs hold them up and keep them in the right place. All cycling shorts are designed to prevent as much friction as possible and wick away moisture/sweat. And don’t buy cheap. Yes, look for sales, but buy something that will last. There truly is a very big difference between a Bellweather bib short and a Pearl Izumi bib short. A good pair of bib shorts and a saddle that works for you (everyone is different) is the best combination. After that, a proper bike fit. I have wasted a lot of money on shorts and liners only to eventually start using bib shorts. Then, my wife learned the same lesson. Then, a friend of mine learned the same lesson. Then, another friend of mine learned the same lesson. Get the point?
Also, concerning the saddle……softer is not always better. Find a good retailer who will let you buy and try and exchange saddles until you find the right one for you. REI comes to mind. It might be a soft one. It might be a hard, flatter one. Some love Brooks saddles while I found Kontact saddles work best for me. But I have to emphasize that a proper bike fit is necessary to accurately assess the saddle. For your information: I do have a Brooks Imperial saddle with less than 100 miles on it that I would like to sell if you or anyone you know might be interested. It’s in perfect condition, in the box.
You really have to experiment. If you can get buy without it, great. Personally I think the shorts are the one thing you should skimp on. Let alone would I say get a pad, I’d say get the best one you can find.
Wear and tear on your body build up over time. One ride won’t let you know if you’ll be happy on the saddle at the end of the week.
Bob: Also, concerning the saddle……softer is not always better. Find a good retailer who will let you buy and try and exchange saddles until you find the right one for you. REI comes to mind. It might be a soft one. It might be a hard, flatter one. Some love Brooks saddles while I found Kontact saddles work best for me. But I have to emphasize that a proper bike fit is necessary to accurately assess the saddle. For your information: I do have a Brooks Imperial saddle with less than 100 miles on it that I would like to sell if you or anyone you know might be interested. It’s in perfect condition, in the box.
After riding a Brooks saddle, for a year and dealing with the pain, I bought a Selle Anatomica. This saddle was comfortable from my first ride, no break in period required. I love it! I gave the Brooks to someone, I didn’t really like!!!! http://selleanatomica.com/
I think it’s a big risk to go without padded shorts. Even if you rode before with out them the trouble is once the sore spots start they just get worse with continued riding. So if on day 4 you get a sore spot it will get worse the rest of the week and will be very unpleasant. The chamois creme (which you spread on yourself, not the chamois (pad)) also is a must have item to prevent potential sore spots.
I ride a lot and shorts along with cycling shoes are the last things I would cut budgetary corners on. Even higher priority then the bike itself excluding the saddle and riding position.
As far as women specific items the women I know do not think bib shorts are a big deal like they are for many men. You don’t need the waste band as tight usually. And saddles are a much different experience for women then men. Most women I know have saddles with a center channel to relieve the pressure.
ok, getting ready for just my 3rd RAGBRAI & I have learned padded shorts are vital. Just my 2 cents worth but the Iowa 4 H Club is out to break you! Heat, Humidity, Hills & Headwinds!! You do not want to begin to chafe in areas not meant to chafe. A saddle sore could end your ride. As a member of the Wisconsin Cheese Butts, a couple of us had a morning ritual: Mike says, “Hey you got that Ass Butter?” It is actually Chamois Butter but there are other products that work as well. My Bontrager seat resembles an aerodynamic two by four. But by the time you finish your training your padded self & your seat will fit together like two jigsaw puzzle pieces. oh yes, padded shorts, Ass Butter & a quality seat pay dividends. And remember, PIE PIE PIE!!
Unless you can set aside a week to ride RAGBRAI like distances every day and do it without padding or problems you will not really know until you get that saddle sore on day 5 that you should have worn padded shorts. Chances are you won’t be riding for a few days after you get one! Building up to once or twice a week rides equal to the longest RAGBRAI day won’t guarantee you that you can do 60 miles every day for a week. I am one of the few who ride in normal person’s shorts (although there seemed to be more of us last year than the year before). However I do wear padded cycling underwear under those spandex free shorts. Last year I started out without chamois cream the first three or four days and one cheek was starting to get a little tender by the time I switched to using it. I managed to make it through the whole ride but I could tell it was a near thing on that front (back?) even though otherwise I could have gone on indefinitely. I’d bring some padding and some cream and I would switch to them at the first hint of trouble because I found out the hard way once that this kind of trouble comes on real fast when it comes.