Ride Across Britain: ‘I like sore butts and I cannot lie’

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Later this year KARL HOLBROOK is taking on the Deloitte Ride Across Britain cycle challenge. In his latest feature, he looks at the ugly truth about cycling 1,000 miles.

There is one 
important topic that still hasn’t reared its ugly head. Bums.

And for most of us, deep into training for our 1,000 mile, nine-day Ride Across Britain adventure, it’s a pretty sore subject.

What nobody tells you about cycling is that after a while your saddle and shorts will conspire against you and end up working together like a belt sander as you pedal. Whether you’re just starting out or have been cycling half your life, at some point you are going to feel like you are sitting on a razorblade.

Saddle soreness has got to be the number one complaint by long distance cyclists - and uninitiated newcomers - but luckily Simon McCormick, Threshold Sport’s resident cut and stitch man, has been on with some advice to ease our weary bums.

“I like sore butts and I cannot lie,” the 46-year-old A&E consultant says with an Ali G flick of the wrist. “From day three onward it is what us medics on Ride Across Britain spend most of our time dealing with.

“Be it the ‘Bum Clinic’ at 7am; the paracetamol, compeeds and gaffa tape (yes, we sometimes resort to gaffa tape) at the pitstops; or the caring examination at the end of the day with a sympathetic ear, a soothing word and a gentle shave of any hair to try and get a dressing to stick, it’s what we spend our time dealing with.

“We recognise some of the riders better when they bend over to pick something up that when they wave to us.”

The doctor, who lives in Sheffield, has been a medic on the ride for three years and was made chief medic at last year’s event. He was also Radio 1’s Greg James’ medic on his Sport Relief challenge in February. So he knows what he’s talking about.

Here are his top tips for keeping your bum in tip top shape on the bike:

- Get your bike set up right. Poor riding position will hurt everything from your neck down to your toes. Get it done properly.

- Get good shorts. Generally you get what you pay for but whatever you choose, look after them well (wash them after EVERY day). You can also use a second pair as extra padding, should the worst happen.

- Spread the load. Don’t keep all the pressure in the same place all the way through the ride. Have a standard position you use for most of the time but stand up occasionally, move forward a bit, back a bit, have a wriggle. It not only lets the pressured areas ‘breathe’ it also helps change the strain on your muscles and joints.

- Ride strong. Here we go again...train or pain! When you ride your pelvis should be rock steady. However, as you tire, you start to rock in the saddle and drive the pedals using your hips rather than your thighs. You end up grinding your pelvis on to the saddle with inevitable results: I christened it the RAB twerk last year. Good training, strong legs and butt from the gym, proper pacing and sensible use of your gears (ride in a lighter gear rather than pushing hard) will protect your legs and therefore your butt.

- Skin care. You don’t need, or even want, skin like a rhino. You want soft, supple skin which is healthy and so withstands pressure and infection. Simple rules. When you get home IMMEDIATELY get out of your shorts and have a wash...don’t be tempted to have a beer and do it later! Dry it gently, maybe go commando and let it air dry, then apply some nice moisturising cream or cycling skin cream.

Love your bum, check it regularly for hotspots or sores using a mirror or front facing camera from your phone (turn off Instagram sharing first).

THE FACTS

- Deloitte Ride Across Britain

September 10 -18

- Website: www.rideacrossbritain.com

- Social media: www.facebook.com/rideacrossbritain/