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“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.
Petal Power LLC
P O Box 2491
Eagle, ID 83616