Bike Commuting Is Tough on the Tush

Last week I inaugurated a season of bike commuting and in the subtitle of my Bike Commuting Begins post I jokingly proclaimed it the “dawn of the sore bottom.” I was expecting a little soreness, maybe a little tenderness to the touch – but nothing like what I am experiencing. My quest for frugal transportation is making my sit bones feel like they’ve been hammered by Thor himself.

Now I have narrowed down the culprit to one (or all) of three things:

Bike Shorts(1) My biking shorts. That’s right, my biking shorts are none other than the highly sought after khaki shorts. To be honest, they just aren’t providing the padding that my delicate derriere needs. They fit well, loose and comfortable – but not so loose that they get caught in my wheels. That is really important so I don’t eat crap in the middle of the road. Additionally, they are stylish and resist stains pretty well – but if you look carefully you can see the marks left on the seat of my shorts by potential culprit #2 – my saddle.

Iguana Seat

(2) Iguana seat … ha! … more like Iguana-make-your-arse-sore-eat. I knew the seat was a little firm, but golly whiz. I didn’t think it would grind the flesh and muscle between it and my Ischial Tuberosity into grits. This is my prime suspect (and like $40+ bucks to replace).

(3) Then there is my riding style – as fast as my little legs can handle. Now I don’t have a bike computer or anything else to measure my RPMs, but I think I am in the 60-120 range.1 Since my legs are spinning pretty fast-ish I generally feel bumps in the road without the benefit of my legs cushioning the blow. This may be a technique thing, but I’m not sure.

Since I have such soreness I have been reluctant to take the long rides. When all is said and done, I have ridden 55.1 miles in 6 1/2 days of commuting2 I could be logging many more miles if I thought I could sit in the saddle for that long every day. The day after my longer days, like when I ride the 12 miles home after work, I am usually pretty tender, but not sore anywhere else on my body except my butt. Lame.

I have ridden all the way home from work twice now. The first time I did it on “accident” after getting ditched by my bus. It already had two bikes on it (the limit on my transit system) so I got left at the stop. Instead of waiting another 30 minutes till the next bus might ditch me I decided I’d ride until the next bus caught up – it never did. On that first trip I went door-to-door in about 1 hour 10 minutes.

The second attempt I did much better, making the 12 mile trip in ~45 minutes.3 That was a very pleasant surprise to say the least. It has me thinking after some training I might be able to make the trip in 30 minutes. That would be as quick as driving to work in a car … on the freeway.

Another concern that has been raised about bike commuting has been safety. As of today, I have not had any close calls, been afraid for my life; or encountered an out of control driver. Everyone has been very respectful and I have felt nothing but safe on the roads.

I really hope that I can get past the tender tush and on to more ridding. Before I go out and buy a new seat or riding shorts with padding I may do some experimenting with old pillows since my wife has a penchant for sewing. I’d rather look like a toddler with a loaded diaper than let this soreness keep up. Think of all the practical joke I could play … Seriously, think about it and leave a comment – I need to know what they are.

  1. I know this range is pretty big – like I said, I don’t have one of those fancy bike computer things. []
  2. 6.2 miles on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday last week; 15.1 on Thursday last week; 15.1 on Monday this week, 6.2 on Tuesday, and 3.1 so far today. []
  3. That’s 16 MPH! Woot! []