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“What does Petal Power Joy Ride Crème have that the other chamois creams don’t have?” This is a GREAT question and one we get pretty frequently. Most people are pretty surprised when I tell them it’s what we DON’T have that makes our chamois cream different from the others.
When I first started to develop our Joy Ride Crème, I gave our formulators a long list of NO’s. I told them this cream should have no parabens, no petroleum products, no tea tree and/or other mint oils, no animal products, no animal testing, no gluten, no man-made chemicals. Since I am picky about what I put on my body, it was really important to me that this chamois cream be made with super mild, all-natural, and plant-based ingredients. Luckily, our formulator “gets it”. They are one of the nation’s leading manufacturer’s of all-natural and organic spa and wellness products, so making the Joy Ride Crème without anything on my no-no list was a piece of cake for them.
Here are a few of the ingredients we choose NOT to use in our chamois cream and why:
What they are: Parabens are a class of preservatives widely used in cosmetics, foods, and pharmaceuticals to extend the product’s shelf life by inhibiting bacteria and mold growth. The most common forms of parabens used in cosmetics products are methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben.
Why we leave them out: Parabens are considered “xenoestrogens”, which means they mimic estrogen in the body, potentially disrupting hormone function. When parabens enter the bloodstream, they trick your body into thinking they are actually estrogen. The more estrogen your body is exposed to, the risk of breast cancer is greater. While there has been much controversy over whether or not parabens are safe in cosmetics, we have opted to leave it out since there are safer, plant-derived alternatives we use keep our product fresh.
Tea Tree Oil
What it is: Tea tree oil (also known as melaleuca oil) is one of nature’s finest and most effective anti-microbial, antiseptic, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory essential oils. Native to Australia, tea tree oil has been used for centuries to prevent and treat a wide variety of maladies.
Why we leave it out: There’s little doubt about how effective tea tree oil is against fighting bacteria however it can also be incredibly harsh on your skin. Contact dermatitis is extremely common, resulting in itching, burning, redness, rashes, and even blistering. Many people are extremely sensitive to tea tree oil, especially women. I’m not a doctor, but common sense seems to dictate that people who have sensitive skin may not want to be sitting in a product containing tea tree oil for a couple hours on a bike ride. Plus, it also smells awful. Like make-your-eyes-water awful. We prefer to just leave it out. Taking the time to get clean BEFORE you apply chamois cream goes a long way to rid your skin of any harmful bacteria.
Menthol/Peppermint Oil/Other Mint Oils
What they are: Menthol can be derived synthetically or organically from a variety of different mint oils. When applied to the skin, menthol and mint oils naturally trigger cold receptors which results in that cool, tingling sensation. It’s widely used in a variety of products such as lip balms, cold medications, topical analgesics to relieve joint/muscle pain, mouthwash, toothpaste, cigarettes, and a long list of others.
Why we leave them out: Menthol is commonly used in chamois cream (often referred to as a “Euro” style cream). Some cyclists really like the cooling sensation menthol provides. But for some people, the tingling is so uncomfortable on what’s arguably the most delicate skin on your body, it literally makes them want to turn inside out. I’ve had some women say the burning after applying some Euro-style creams is so intense, they’ve had to take a shower to remove the stuff before getting on their bike. Menthol and other mint oils are generally considered safe, but because many people don’t dig the minty-fresh “party in your pants” sensation, we choose to leave these ingredients out of our chamois cream.
What they are: Since the term “petroleum products” refers to a pretty broad category, I’m going to just focus on the petroleum-derived products commonly used in chamois creams and creams/balms used as anti-friction creams (like diaper rash ointments and others): petroleum jelly, petrolatum, mineral oil, paraffin wax, and paraffin oil. These ingredients are derived from crude oil…yes, the stuff that goes into making gasoline and motor oil. Petroleum-based products are cheap and effective…so they are widely used in a variety of health and beauty products.
Why we leave them out: Oh boy, where do I start? I am vehemently against using ANY of these ingredients in chamois cream (you can read the blog post I wrote on this subject here). In a nutshell, it’s not good for your skin, it’s not good for your bike shorts, and it’s not good for your bike seat. It may be effective to reduce friction, but it doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Petroleum products don’t allow your skin to breathe, they do nothing to actually nourish your skin, they can cause skin irritation, and there have been studies linking these ingredients to cancer. Let’s move on to what these ingredients can do to your bike shorts and saddle, shall we? Depending on the concentration of petroleum used, these ingredients can stain clothing and your saddle…and they are REALLY hard to wash out, if not impossible. And since this nasty stuff can’t be washed out easily, it also means bacteria can get trapped in your chamois. GROSS. Last but certainly not least, petroleum can break down foam rubber over time. And since your chamois and your bike seat are both made out of foam rubber, these two expensive pieces of gear can potentially wear out much quicker. Wouldn’t you rather just invest in a better chamois cream than a new pair of shorts or a bike seat? I know I would.
We proudly display our list of ingredients on our website so you can easily see what we use…and equally important, what we don’t use. This is especially critical for people who have sensitivities or allergies. And not only do we provide a complete list, we also give information about how each ingredients is derived. On Amazon.com, we provide a picture of the ingredients list on the label. We encourage all of our retailers who sell online to either list the ingredients in their product descriptions or provide a picture of them on the label. Why? Because we firmly believe that ingredients matter.
People want to know what they are putting on their bodies and in their bodies…and they are becoming more educated about the impacts of certain ingredients on their health and well-being. For whatever reason, it’s incredibly difficult to find a list of ingredients for many health and beauty products online (including other brands of chamois cream!). Quite often, if you want to know what the ingredients are, it means a trip to the store. We won’t make you work that hard. For a complete list of the ingredients we use in our Joy Ride Creme and how they are derived, simply click here.
This past weekend, we had the pleasure of attending the all-women’s mountain bike festival Rocktober for the third year in a row. In its 6th year, Rocktober is hosted by the Southern California-based women’s mountain bike club Girlz Gone Riding (GGR) and serves as a membership drive for CORBA, the local International Mountain Bicycling Association chapter. I just love this event for so many reasons…the energy of a couple hundred women mountain bikers in one place is SO awesome, plus it’s always great to see old friends and make new ones. I feel like I am with my “dirt sisters”.
Three years ago, this was the very first event we ever went to with Petal Power…I remember how excited I was to introduce all these women to our new company and educate them about the benefits of riding with chamois cream. This year brought the same feelings of excitement since we would also be bringing along our newly launched sister brand, Ladies Only Velo.
Last week as I prepped for the big event, some of my excitement got knocked down a level or two when I saw there was a chance of rain the day of Rocktober at Lake Castaic, the event venue. As the weekend approached, a 20% chance of rain turned into a 30% chance…and then the odds jumped to a 60% chance by the time we left for the event on Saturday afternoon. We actually debated for a short time whether we should even go just in case it got cancelled, but GGR director and co-founder Wendy Engelberg said “rain or shine”, so away we went.
After a beautiful (and rain-free) evening of camping at Lake Castaic, we started to set up our booth at about 6am. It stayed dry until about 7am when most of the event attendees started arriving to check in and pick up their swag bag full of goodies. The rain came down harder as Wendy gave the morning address to 237 women who were bundled up in rain gear, ready to ride. Unfortunately, Wendy had to make the difficult decision to cancel all the rides in the name of safety and trail preservation. As that point, I fully expected to see people pack up and leave, but that wasn’t the case. Just about everyone stayed. One group decided to take a ride on the pavement around the lake. Another couple of groups formed with the ride coaches and they did skills clinics in the parking lot to learn about body position, cornering, braking, shifting, and other skills they could apply to future off-road rides. Other women cruised through the booths to check out the more than 30 vendors. The beautiful thing was even though all these women were soaking wet and cold, they all had smiles on their faces.
So what would compel over 200 women to brave the elements and get on their bikes? I think that can easily be summed up with one word: community. One of the dictionary definitions of the word “community” is “a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.”
Yes, we share a common interest (mountain biking) but it’s the very last part of this definition that really hits home for me: “…perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.” As women mountain bikers, hell yes we are distinct from society. I’d venture to say we’re freaking unicorns. Think about it for a minute. How many times have you come limping into the office on Monday morning covered in bumps, bruises, and/or scrapes…and had your co-workers look at you like you are completely nuts when you tell them your weekend of riding was epic? You eagerly pull out your phone so you can show them photos or video of you ripping down some awesome ribbon of singletrack, conquering that rock garden, or maybe even catching some air off a jump. Your co-workers curiously look at these images, giving you the gratuitous “Wow” or “Oh my gosh” or better yet, “You call that fun?!?“ Then they walk away, shaking their heads, saying to each other, “That chick is seriously crazy!” Not many women do what we do.
Through the eyes of our non-riding friends and family, we’re an odd bunch. The dirtier we get on the trail, the happier we are. We ride down sections of trail most people would have a hard time walking down. We could buy a good used car for less than what we paid for our bike (and due to the probability of n+1, we probably have more than one bike!). Our vacation destinations revolve around areas with awesome singletrack. We love to show off our latest “battle wounds” we got while riding. Our girlfriends want diamond rings…we just want chain rings.
Women who mountain bike are truly a distinct breed. Yep, unicorns. We aren’t afraid to get dirty. We’re independent, have an adventurous spirit, and love the outdoors. We’re self-sufficient…most of us know how to fix a flat tire and do basic trailside bike repair. We’re not deathly afraid of critters we encounter on the trail (OK, maybe we’re a little afraid of snakes, bears, mountain lions, etc but isn’t everyone to a certain extent? It’s certainly not enough to keep us from going for a ride!). We have grit…that determination and passion to become stronger, fitter, and more skilled riders. We work through our fears and challenges with the support of the other women we ride with. We crash…we get bruised and bloodied…and we love every minute of it.
It’s human nature to seek out people who share the same characteristics and interests as we do. This is how community is created. The beautiful thing about the women’s mountain bike community is that it knows no boundaries and carries no prejudice. Everyone wants to feel a sense of belonging in the communities they are a part of. It doesn’t matter where you go in the world, as mountain bikers we all speak the same “language”. Nobody cares what color your skin is, what religion you are, what your sexual orientation is, or how old you are. It doesn’t matter what level rider you are or what kind of bike you ride. Everyone belongs. Everyone loves bikes. And most of all, everyone loves to see other women having fun on their bikes.
Here in Southern California, we are incredibly fortunate to have a club like Girlz Gone Riding with over 1,200 members. Wendy Engelberg has a gift few people (if any) have for creating and sustaining a women’s mountain biking community that welcomes women of all ages and abilities. Many women would not have started mountain biking or stuck with it if they didn’t have the support from their fellow GGR members. If it weren’t for Wendy and GGR, the women’s mountain biking scene in Southern California would not be nearly as strong as it is today. GGR is the place we can go to get support and give support. It’s the place we go to become stronger riders. It’s the place we go to learn more about bikes. It’s the place we go to laugh and ride with our mountain biking “sisters” who share the same love for bikes as we do. GGR is our community.
Community. It’s what compels over 200 women to hang out with each other all day and “play bikes” in the rain.
(Editor's Note: we posted this in both the Ladies Only Velo and Petal Power blogs since it pertains to both our sister brands.)
I have always been fascinated with “less is more” travel. Bicycle touring, backpacking, teardrop and tiny trailers, VW Westfalias, Sprinter van conversions, and car camping are, in my opinion, the best way to see the world. It’s amazing how little you need when you travel…and how liberating it can be to shed all the comforts of home in favor of traveling simple and light. All those ginormous “McMansions on Wheels” RV’s do absolutely nothing for me. So when bikepacking became a “thing” a few years back, it instantly went on my “bucket list”.
What’s bikepacking? It’s pretty simple…it’s like backpacking on a bike, usually a mountain bike. However, when you bikepack, you don’t wear a big huge backpacking rig on your back. Instead you carry all your gear in purpose-built bags that mount to your bicycle. With all the cool bikepacking-specific bags starting to emerge on the market and camping gear getting lighter and more compact, ultralight off-road self-contained travel by bike is becoming more popular.
When my longtime friend, Susie Murphy (Executive Director for the San Diego Mountain Bike Association and Petal Power Ambassador) invited me to do an overnight bikepacking trip along the 70+ mile Coast to Crest Trail here in San Diego County as part of a filming project, I jumped at the chance. The trip was supported and hosted by One Wild Life and their OWL Adventure Lab bus, a new mobile co-working and creative space vehicle that has the ability for people to stay connected and work from the beach, the mountains, the trailhead, or virtually anywhere. One Wild Life is creating a video for the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy to promote the trail, so they needed some volunteers to ride the route so they could film it.
Perfect! This was just the push I needed to finally get some gear and give this bikepacking thing a try! I decided to get a set of the new Ortlieb bikepacking bags. You can never go wrong with Ortlieb…their bags are made in Germany, waterproof, and pretty much bombproof. The afternoon before the trip, I eagerly started packing up all my stuff in the bags so I could get them mounted on my bike. I got my clothes and toiletries in my handlebar bag with no problem, but my sleeping gear in the seat bag was a different story. My sleeping bag and sleeping pad were light and compact 10 years ago when I bought them for a bike tour. But now…not so much. My how things change. There was no way in hell they were going to fit in my seatbag…so off to REI I go to invest in some new stuff. I walked out with an REI “Flash” women’s sleeping bag, a new sleeping pad, sleeping bag liner, and splurged on a uber-light inflatable pillow…all of which fit neatly in my seat bag with plenty of room to spare. The Ortlieb bags mounted up to my bike without a hitch, so now all that was left to do was get a good night’s sleep to get rested up before my adventure.
We started the ride at the “crest” part of the trailhead at Volcan Mountain way up in the mountains of Julian. We had a little bit of a ride on the pavement before hitting the trail which was good since it gave me the opportunity to see how differently my bike would handle with the added weight and bulk of the bags. I fully expected to feel very top heavy and squirrely, but I didn’t at all. Even when we peeled off onto the singletrack, I was amazed at how balanced the bike felt. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t even know the bags were there…yes, the bike did feel a little heavier. The climbs were just a little tougher and it took a little more braking effort on descents, but other than that, the bike handled like a champ. However, I did make a point to ride cautiously until I got used to the feeling of being loaded (and I don’t mean drunk!).
For the rest of the afternoon, we meandered our way through meadows, sliced through fun singletrack, and cruised down fire roads in some of the most spectacular backcountry San Diego County has to offer. The views were just amazing, especially along the Upper Santa Ysabel Truck Trail. San Diego County is really unique because there aren’t too many places in the world where you can take in sweeping vistas of the desert floor below your mountain viewpoint, then hike, ride, or drive a few miles to the west, and see all the way to the ocean. It makes for some extremely varied terrain and ecosystems that was evident all along this first half of the trail. We rolled through pine and oak tree forests, beautiful grassy meadows, and scrub-like chaparral on our way to our half-way point where we’d be camping for the night.
One of the many great things about doing this as a first bikepacking trip was we didn’t have to worry about carrying dinner/breakfast food and cooking gear with us. The Adventure Lab bus met us at our half-way point and had cold beer, drinks, and snacks waiting for us as we rolled into camp at about 4pm. Since the Adventure Lab bus IS a mobile workstation, we were able to use its awesome Goal Zero Yeti portable solar generator so we could charge up our cameras and phones, which were going dead from taking so many pictures and video. While we got changed and got our sleeping gear all situated before dark, Ryan and Tim from One Wild Life cooked us a delicious pasta dinner complete with garlic bread and salad. After dinner, we enjoyed a little more beer and wine over the exchange of trail stories from the day’s ride down from the mountains.
Rise and shine! We were up at about 7am to break camp, eat breakfast, and head down the trail. Tim and Ryan served us a delicious breakfast of old-fashioned oatmeal with all the fixings, eggs, fruit, and most importantly…GREAT coffee. Once we were all fueled up and fully caffeinated, we loaded all our stuff back onto our bikes and hit the trail. Next stop: Dog Beach in Del Mar! On this second half of the Coast to Crest Trail, you get into a little more “civilization” as you go through the San Dieguito River Park towards Lake Hodges. There were lots of other people on the trail: MTBers, runners, hikers, and bird watchers (Lake Hodges and the surrounding river park has world class bird watching, from what I’m told). A couple of the cyclists gave us the thumbs up when they saw we were sporting bikepacking gear on our bikes. I had ridden these trails many, many times and I fully expected that I would feel much slower with a loaded bike. But much like the day before, I was pleasantly surprised how well my bike handled with the added weight. Other than feeling a little slower on the climbs than I normally would and botching a couple super tight switchbacks I usually don’t have problems with, there were times I just forgot I had the bags on my bike.
As we got closer to the beach, the warm, dry air of the inland valleys started to give way to cooler temperatures and that unmistakable “onshore flow” breeze coming from the ocean. As we rolled into Del Mar and the ocean came into view, it was truly a melancholy feeling. On one hand, I felt a great sense of accomplishment to have ridden the 70-odd miles through the backcountry of San Diego all the way down to the sea. But on the other hand, I was really sad to see it come to an end. We pedaled down to Dog Beach and took our bikes down to the water’s edge to celebrate and take some pictures. As we made our way back where the Adventure Lab bus was parked, I said to my group, “Wanna ride back up to Julian?” Everyone chuckled a bit, but I was only half joking. The experience of traveling light without an agenda, exploring places you’ve never been, and meeting awesome people along the way can be highly addictive. I could have easily kept going for another couple days.
Going into this trip, I was truly hoping that bikepacking would be the awesome experience I imagined it would be. It was. It’s always a great feeling to scratch something off your bucket list. But as a friend of mine pointed out (who is also a highly experienced bikepacker), there’s “No checking it off the list! It’ll just get its own list now.” I’m already planning future bikepacking adventures…and that list is getting pretty long!
(Note: The Coast To Crest Trail isn’t 100% done yet, but getting closer. We had to take a few detours to link it all together.)
Of course, I am no expert with one whopping overnight trip under my belt, but here are a few tips that might be helpful:
Beginning a ride straight from your house is so convenient…you have all your cycling-related gear at your fingertips. But if you put your bike on your car and travel to a race, trailhead, or other location to start your ride from, there’s a good chance you won’t have all the comforts of home with you in your car.
Consider keeping a “go-to” gear bag partially packed at all times with a few simple items that are either easily forgotten at home or will help make your day in the saddle as epic as possible. Keep your gear bag in an easily accessible location so all you have to do is throw in your riding kit and helmet, load your bike onto your car, and hit the road. It’s a huge time saver since you won’t be running around at the last minute, tracking down all the little stuff you might need for the day.
In addition to you riding kit, helmet, shoes, and nutrition, here’s a list of 12 items you shouldn’t be without in your cycling gear bag:
We’d like to hear from you…what’s in your cycling gear bag? What’s that one item you never leave home without?
“I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!” Isn’t that how the saying goes? As cyclists, we SHOULD be saying, “I scream, you scream, we all scream for CHAMOIS CREAM!” However, chamois cream seems to be something that some women cyclists either don’t know about…or they think they don’t need it.
Sure, there are a lot of things in life we don’t need, but chamois cream should not be one of them if you spend any significant time on your bicycle.
As cyclists, we tend to have pretty high pain thresholds; it’s what gets us up the nastiest of climbs. In fact, we even learn to like the pain because it can be make us feel like we’re getting fitter. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? In some cases that’s true, but if you are experiencing pain and chafing on your lady parts when you ride, that is NOT making you stronger. Seriously. It’s just giving you a chappy butt and opening the door for saddle sores. Eww.
So if you’re one of the chamois cream holdouts who thinks you don’t need it, give it a try. Most women who start using it never go back to NOT using chamois cream because it makes such a huge difference for them in terms of comfort and health.
Not real sure about what chamois cream will do for you? Well, let’s go over the benefits, shall we?
Chamois cream helps reduce friction
First and foremost, chamois cream is designed to specifically to help reduce friction on your girly bits when you ride. When you sit on your bike seat and start to pedal, you’ll experience both skin-on-fabric friction (between your skin and bike shorts/chamois pad) as well as skin-on-skin friction (hopefully not much explanation is needed here…let’s just say those delicate petals are subject to a lot of abuse when you ride!). Even if the fabric on your bike shorts and chamois pad are softer than a she-mouse’s belly, you are still going to experience friction. It’s just part of cycling…much like the simple act of walking will produce friction on your feet from your shoes. However, friction is NOT your friend! You know what happens when your feet experience too much friction (blister city!). Too much friction on your nether regions can result in painful chafing, hot spots, and saddle sores. Basically stuff you don’t want because it can keep you off your bicycle until it’s healed up. A dollop of chamois cream “down there” goes a long way to help reduce this friction.
Chamois cream helps reduce saddle sores
What’s a saddle sore, you ask? If you have to ask, you’ve probably never had one (LUCKY YOU!). If you have had one, you are likely cringing about now because you know how painful they are. A saddle sore is essentially a fluid-filled boil (sort of like a big pimple) that forms in your crotch area generally where you have contact with the saddle. They form when bacteria enters the body through small micro-tears in the skin that develop as a result of friction (there’s that word again!). As we discussed above, chamois cream will help reduce this pesky friction. It’s pretty simple: less friction = fewer skin tears = fewer saddle sores. A saddle sore will usually go away within a few days if you rest it, however there are rare cases where they are so severe they require a doctor’s attention. It goes without saying that these nasty buggers hurt like Hades. Most cyclists will agree, it’s not a matter of IF you get a saddle sore, it’s WHEN you’ll get one. Why risk it? Just apply some chamois cream to help ward them off. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Chamois cream helps condition your skin
A good chamois cream will contain emollients to help condition your skin. Why is this important on your lady parts? Like we discussed above, your skin will develop small micro-tears under friction when you ride, which can open the door for saddle sore to develop. By keeping the skin supple and moisturized with chamois cream, it will be more pliable and not as susceptible to tearing. Choose a natural, plant-based cream rich in lipids (fats, oils, fatty acids, fat-soluble vitamins, etc) but free from parabens and petroleum products (also called “petrolatum”…mineral oil and paraffin wax also falls in this category). Ingredients such as menthol, tea tree oil, and lanolin can be very irritating to some people, watch out for them if you have sensitive skin.
Chamois cream keeps you more comfortable.
By now, it should go without saying that chamois cream will keep you much more comfortable on the bike. Friction hurts. Chafing hurts. Saddle sores hurt. Why ruin a perfectly good bike ride? Even if you are saying to yourself, “I don’t have problems with any of that stuff. I’m comfortable enough”. Think again. Remember when you were a newbie bike rider and you didn’t wear proper bike clothing…and then you got your first pair of padded bike shorts? Remember how much better your bum felt both during and after your rides? Chamois cream will give you that same feeling of “aaaahhhhh…why didn’t I try this sooner?” Women seem to have a pretty high pain threshold, so sometimes we just ride along, not fully aware of the pain we are experiencing until we do something that makes us realize how much better we feel. It’s things like a comfy bike saddle, a good pair of bike shorts, a properly-fitted bicycle…and chamois cream…that help make a good bike ride even better.
The bottom line (pun absolutely intended!) is if you aren’t using chamois cream, you really should be. It’s sort of like using sunscreen…sure, you can go without it when you’re outdoors, but don’t you feel much better at the end of the day when you aren’t sunburned to a crisp? Using chamois cream really isn’t any different…when you take the time to slather some on before you ride, your girly bits will be FAR happier at the end of the day. Just think of chamois cream as sunscreen for where the sun doesn’t shine!
Petroleum...it's a broad, sweeping term that includes both crude oil (yes, the stuff that goes in your car) and the by-products made from the refinement of crude oil. Petroleum jelly (also called petrolatum) is one of those by-products...and it's widely used in skin care and beauty products. So the stuff that goes in your car is used to make products for stuff you put on your body. Yuck.
Petrolatum is in more products than you'd think. There are some chamois cream brands who use it (the names will be withheld to protect the innocent). There are also many chamois cream "substitutes" like diaper rash ointment and "barnyard animal" balms that use it too (again, brand names will be withheld). It's also in many lotions, lip balms, and other cosmetics.
Here are just a few reasons we feel petroleum jelly/petrolatum has no place in a chamois cream:
And FYI...mineral oil, paraffin wax, and paraffin oil ALL go by the name petrolatum and are ALL petroleum derivatives, so read your ingredients labels carefully!
At Petal Power, we strive to use the very best natural and plant-based ingredients in our products to help protect and nourish your delicate skin. For a full list of our ingredients and how they are derived, click here!
“I see Paris, I see France, I see your underpants!” chuckled my male riding partner during a ride many years ago. This prompted me to immediately stop my bike and ask if I had a hole in the back of my bike shorts. “No,” he said. “But I can see your panty lines under your shorts”. I immediately turned beet red. He sheepishly explained that riding with undies under your bike shorts is a no-no. I remember thinking, Did he really just tell me to take my panties off?!? As if he was a mind reader, he quickly added, “No, you don’t have to take them off now! Just leave them at home next time you ride!”
Some of you reading this might be thinking about a similar story you have about the first time someone told you that you weren’t supposed to wear underwear with your bike shorts. Hopefully you took their advice and just stopped wearing them. Some of you might have gotten this important memo, but just can’t bring yourself to go commando on a bike. And many of you might be thinking, Huh?!? No undies under bike shorts?!? I don’t get it. Do tell.
Padded bike shorts are purpose-built for cycling. The fabric used is designed to wick moisture away from your body to keep you cool and dry. Bicycle shorts are constructed to help you move freely and naturally on the bike. Seams are placed very strategically…while they are a necessary part of garment construction, they are NOT your friend as they can cause painful chafing and irritation if they are placed in the wrong areas.
The chamois (pronounced sham-ee) pad in bike shorts is a work of art in itself. An unbelievable amount of research and development goes into the creation of these little wonders. They are usually gender-specific, made out of high-density foam, and covered with a soft microfiber fabric cover. The construction of the chamois is designed not only to pad your bum, but also to help wick moisture and bacteria away from your girly bits.
To recap what we just discussed above, bike shorts are designed to serve two major functions: to keep you comfortable and healthy on your bike. What bike shorts are NOT designed for is use with underwear of any kind! That means no thongs, boy briefs, bikinis, hipsters, or high-waisters. None. If you do, you are defeating the purpose of wearing bike shorts to begin with. Underwear bunches up in places it shouldn’t when you’re on the bike. The binding and seams on your panties can and will lead to some pretty painful chafing in areas where you just don’t want it. And don’t even get me started on the pain lace panties can inflict. Furthermore, wearing panties with your bike shorts simply isn’t healthy. Most panties aren’t designed to wick moisture away from your skin, which means sweat and bacteria doesn’t have anywhere to go. This can lead to saddle sores and other maladies. Yuck.
With any luck, if you have been a panty-wearing bike-riding offender up to this point, you have been convinced to ditch them for good in the name of health and comfort.
A few of you out there are probably still skeptical of all this. And I know that there’s a fairly strong contingent out there who have heard their friends and riding partners preach the “no undies when riding” gospel before, but just can’t bring themselves to go commando. I just can’t do it, you may be thinking. OK, don’t get your panties in a bunch…read on. Here are a few things to consider:
Everyone is doing it.
Yep, that’s right. All the cool kids ride commando. The women you see line up at the start line of the at your local mountain bike and road bike races? No undies. The men and women who do the grueling Race Across America (RAAM) race? No undies. All the guys who race in the Tour de France…no boxers, no briefs, no nothing. You might be saying, Yeah, but they are all racers. I don’t race. It doesn’t matter! If you ride a bike, you probably have friends who also ride bikes. Ask them what THEY do. They will likely tell you “NO UNDIES”…if they haven’t already.
I have actually had women tell me that one of the reasons they can’t bring themselves to ride without panties is they are embarrassed to go into public without underwear on. I promise you…all those people whizzing by you in their cars will have NO CLUE you aren’t wearing panties under your bike shorts unless they happen to be cyclists themselves. And I guarantee you that not one hiker or equestrian you meet on your mountain bike will turn to their friends and say, Oh my! She doesn’t have panties on under her shorts! And if they did? WHO CARES! Chances are you’ll never see those people again anyhow.
Mother doesn’t always know best.
I think a lot of women hear their mother’s voices at the mere thought of riding commando. Memories come flooding back of that conversation you had with your mother when you were 7 or 8 years old after you asked why you just couldn’t be naked under your dress or pants. Good girls ALWAYS wear underwear. Bad girls don’t wear panties. Peace out and word to your mother: It’s OK to not wear panties under your bike shorts. Really it is. Nobody…not even you mother…will chastise you for not wearing them on your bike.
Your shorts probably aren’t going anywhere.
A gal who came to our booth during an event confessed that she absolutely hated riding with panties under her bike shorts…but she couldn’t bring herself to make the “leap” to riding commando. “Yes, I get chafed. Yes, it hurts. But I can’t do it. I mean, what if something happened and my bike shorts came off?!? I’d be naked!” OK, so when was the last time you heard of someone’s bike shorts just go flying off their body for no reason right in the middle of a ride? As long as your shorts fit you properly, there’s a really high likelihood they will stay put on your bum. And in the unfortunate event you crash so badly your shorts come off (yes, we’ve heard that excuse too), you’ll likely have worse things to worry about (like the unbearable pain road rash) than whether your butt is exposed for the world to see.
Hopefully, we’ll get a few more “commando converts” out there. If you are still on the fence, just start slowly and ease into it. Don your bike shorts (sans panties!) and go for a short ride around the block. If you see your neighbors, no big deal. They will never know unless you happened to hang a big sign around your neck that says, “Howdy neighbor! I’m riding with no panties on!” Once you’ve mastered a few short rides, try some longer rides. If you really feel you MUST have some sort of an extra layer on, get a little cycling skirt to wear over your bike shorts when you ride. Moxie Cycling makes some particularly cute ones…as does Club Ride, shebeest, Sweet Spot Skirts, and Terry.
Come on, ladies…take those panties off, put on your bike shorts (and don’t forget your chamois cream!), and go for a ride! Your girly bits will thank you.
We've kept our little secret under wraps for several months now, but now it's time to let the cat outta the bag! We are SUPER stoked to sponsor the LUNA Chix Pro Team as their official chamois cream supplier! Here's a copy of the press release that went out this morning. Feel free to share!
Petal Power LLC is proud to announce their sponsorship of the LUNA Pro Team as their official chamois cream supplier for 2015.
“We are obviously beyond thrilled to be working with a professional team of this caliber,” says Petal Power founder Jill Hamilton. “We have worked very hard to produce a complete chamois cream system to help keep women happy, healthy, and comfortable on their bikes. We are proud to be part of the LUNA Chix program and contribute to their health and success this season.”
The LUNA Chix Pro Team is the longest-running team in the history of mountain bike racing. The 2015 LUNA Chix Pro Team roster includes reigning World Champion and Olympian Catharine Pendrel (CAN), Olympic Bronze Medalist Georgia Gould (USA), 4-time Olympian and World Cup winner Katerina Nash (CZE), Junior World MTB Champion Andrea Waldis (SWI), U23 Pan American Cyclocross Champion Maghalie Rochette (CAN), and XTERRA Amateur World Champion Hannah Rae Finchamp (USA).
Launched in August 2014, the San Diego-based company has created a unique 3-step before, during, and after ride chamois cream system made specifically for the needs of women riders. The Petal Power “Joy Ride System” consists of pre-ride cleansing wipes, a during-ride chamois cream, and a post-ride shower gel, all formulated with natural and plant-based ingredients. Additionally, all are made without parabens, animal testing, or petroleum products.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of speaking to a group of nearly 200 women mountain bikers at the Girlz Gone Riding Rocktober event about something near and dear to my heart: racing. As "veteran" racers, Wendy Engelberg (Girlz Gone Riding founder) asked my friend Nancy Harris and I to talk to about why we love racing. After our little speech, I had several women tell me they were sufficiently inspired to give racing a try, so I figured it would be a good idea to jot my thoughts down in effort to get the message out to more people!
My first mountain bike race was in 1997; I started out racing in the cross country category. A year or so later, I also started racing downhill since it better suited my "adrenaline junkie" tendencies. I ended up racing downhill for about 10 years, with a little dual slalom, BMX, and cross country mixed in to keep it interesting. I took a little break from racing for about 4 years, but I have recently returned to my racing "family", competing in Super D and cross country. Once racing is in your blood, it's hard to walk away from it for very long.
Participating in race events over the years has contributed to my overall well-being in more ways than I can ever begin to tell you. My experience with racing isn't unique; if you talk to other women who have raced, they will likely tell you the same thing. In fact, if you talk to enough people about how racing has impacted their lives, you will start to see a pattern develop where many racers have had the same takeaways. You will, without a doubt, see a twinkle in their eyes as they gush about what they love about the sport and why you (yes YOU!) should give it a go.
Nothing would make me happier if you stopped reading right now and started Googling to find out when and where your local races are. But chances are, there could be some lingering doubts or excuses holding you back. That's OK...we've heard them all. And any racer will tell you they have OVERCOME them all...
So what are you waiting for? I'm personally challenging all of you to give racing a try. At very least, you'll make a new friend or two and have a great story to tell about racing your bike. I did my first race on whim and never thought it would take me the places I've been physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What do you have to lose?
See you at the races!
OK ladies, whether you are a seasoned cycling veteran or a newbie just starting out, we've all uttered those three little words during a ride: "My crotch hurts!" (or insert whatever "down there" euphemism you fancy). Sometimes it's 30 miles into your ride and other times it's 100 feet from wherever you hopped on your bike. Regardless, pain in our nether regions is obviously NOT a good thing and will make a perfectly good bike ride go bad pretty quickly.
What's a girl to do? When you are experiencing pain in the saddle, there's generally a reason for it...and quite often it's a pretty simple solution (or combination thereof) that will help you chase the pain away and enjoy the ride. We put together a handy little list of 8 reasons your "girly bits" hurt when you ride to help you troubleshoot the problem and make some changes so you can ride in comfort.
Petal Power LLC
P O Box 2491
Eagle, ID 83616