Posts Tagged ‘chamois’

Three-Peat World mtb Champion Rebecca Rusch talks with “girl meets bike”

October 2, 2009

You should know Rebecca

Rebecca Rusch is an incredible mountain biker. Yes, she is a crazy adventure racer, but she’s also dominated Women’s Endurance Mountain Biking for a while. Recently, she won the 24 Hour Solo World Mountain Bike Championship (for the 3rd year in a row) then just three weeks later, won the Leadville 100.  This is the signature of a true champion: the ability to extend their peak season and win. And her wins over the past eight years have been staggeringly good. So my number one question isn’t for Rebecca Rusch. It is for sports news and cycling news outlets. My core question is:

Why isn’t Rebecca Rusch more well known? Why isn’t the media making a HUGE fuss about her? Isn’t this a great role model for your girls?

Girl Meets Bike Meets Rebecca

I have to wonder if my questions showed Rebecca how much I’m NOT a “reporter”. Each one seem to take her slightly off guard, and at first I wondered if she understood why I was asking such “different” questions. But after a few, she got it.  It’s because, when talking to women riders who aren’t necessarily racers, they have VERY different questions from those being asked of her, in Pro journalism. As we sat down outside of Interbike’s Specialized booth she welcomed the more fancy free questions of a “girl meets bike” interview. What I found in Rebecca was a warm and approachable woman, with a passion for sharing the biking experience with other women. Truly, she is a valuable role model for getting girls on bikes.IMG_0485

Girl Meets Bike: How many bikes do you have? Do they have names?

Rebecca Rusch: “Ha, just like shoes, you can never have too many.” Counting for a sec, then “Eight. I think…some have names, others haven’t earned one yet.”

GMB: Which is your favorite?

Rebecca Rusch: I’m favoring the 29er at the moment, that’s the one I rode in the Leadville 100.

GMB: Oh (that’s a rather tall person’s bike, so I asked) How tall are you?

Rebecca Rusch: 5’7″

GMB: Ah, so you can fit a 29er without much problem.

Rebecca Rusch: Yeah, it fits me fine.

GMB: How does it ride?

Rebecca Rusch: Smoother, faster on doubletrack; good for a course like the Leadville 100. But I also love my Era, Specialized’s Women specific model.

GMB: I noticed that your bike has a Bike Pure Spacer on it. Why did you join Bike Pure?

Rebecca Rusch: They approached me, and I liked what they represent. That is, that they concentrate on praising the clean riders of the sport. It’s a very positive message.

GMB: Is doping a particular problem for women’s mountain biking given that upper body strength plays an important role in mtbing?

Rebecca Rusch: I haven’t really seen that, but the prize money is so low for women, that it just wouldn’t be a consideration.

GMB: Is doping likely to become an issue as Women’s Mountain Biking becomes popular?

Rebecca Rusch: I hope not, but I don’t think it’s likely.

GMB: Why Not?

Rebecca Rusch: Because [both monetarily and health-wise], it’s expensive, and it’s not worth the payout.

GMB: What would you say to a U23, or teen that is considering using EPO, CERA, or other kinds of drugs to enhance their performance?

Rebecca Rusch: NOTHING, absolutely nothing, is worth your health.

GMB: What about the issues of Pay Equity? Many of us have heard the argument that women’s racing doesn’t attract enough women, and so the purses should be comparatively lower than the men…

Rebecca Rusch: I do understand the dilemma that promoters are in, but  lower payouts for women is not the answer. An example (of pay inequity) is The 24 Hours of Moab race. The first place woman came in well before the second place man. But second place man got $2600 while the first place woman got only $600. The fact is, it is just as expensive for women to train for a race as men, and the fees to enter aren’t lower. The solution is, have the same payout for first second and third place women, and less payout or no payout beyond that. Women don’t need payouts for tenth place.

GMB: That makes a lot of sense.

GMB: Now, moving on to things more personal:

what’s your favorite saddle, chamois, chamois cream combination?

(She laughs, at first. I realize how I’ve just asked a question completely out of left field, and something a normal journalist would NEVER ask.)

Rebecca Rusch: Well, the saddle has got to be the Toupe, which is a Specialized men’s saddle. Chamois is the BG chamois in the higher quality Specialized women’s shorts. And for Chamois Cream, I use Beljum Budder with a little Noxema (yes, like in Grandma’s medicine cabinet) mixed together.

spec chamtoupebeljum budder

GMB: What’s your favorite outfit off the bike?

Rebecca Rusch: Flip flops, definitely ; with Bermuda shorts.

GMB: What’s your favorite outfit, on the bike?

Rebecca Rusch: My Team kit (her specialized uniform). I’m proud to wear that.

GMB: So Specialized has been good to you, as a sponsor…

Rebecca Rusch: Yes, they’re very supportive of their women riders. They’ve done a lot for women’s fit with BG (Body Geometry) , in both bikes and clothing. I’m very picky about who I choose to sponsor me. I have to believe in the products I use.  Specialized has been a good match for me.

GMB: Do you think women ride differently than men, given that our size, proportions and strengths are different?

Rebecca Rusch: I certainly see a difference in the attitudes of riding between men and women. Men have a more gung-ho ride-it attitude. For me there are some things that are easier and faster to walk, particularly in a race.

But yeah, women ride differently than men. Women ride with more grace and finesse…

GMB: As opposed to “brute forcing” through it?

Rebecca Rusch: Yes.

GMB: Do you think it’s helpful and important for women to ride mountain together, so that they can get visual cues of how to ride certain obstacles and trails?

Rebecca Rusch: Yes, If I’m out riding with other women, we like to stop and figure out how to ride the obstacle.  Sometimes just seeing another woman do an obstacle makes you think, maybe I can do that too. How did she do that? Then you figure it out together.

GMB: So you really appreciate your rides with other women.

Rebecca Rusch: It’s different. It can be more fun. Guys can be competitive, like trying to get me to “race” on a casual ride. But when I’m out riding with the girls, it’s about fun and connecting with my friends. Some of my best rides have been on my Cruiser with friends.

GMB: What’s your favorite trail and what do you do to maintain it?

Rebecca Rusch: I would say the Perimeter trail on Mt. Baldy (Sun Valley ski resort mountain) is my favorite, because I can do the ride from my house, climb 3300 ft of single track to the top on one side of the mountain, then ride down 3300 ft on sweet, rolling single track down.  Takes less than 3 hours and is a killer climbing workout and great descending skills.

I help maintain my local trails through the Wood River Bicycle Coalition. Wood River Bicycle Coalition is our local cycling organization that works on everything from safe routes to school to mtb trail development.  I recently helped put on two short track races that raised money for them to build two pump parks in the valley.  Local sponsors and companies such as Smith Sport Optics as well as a ton of local athletes are involved.

Many thanks to Rebecca Rusch for this interview.

More About Rebecca Rusch

Recently, Rebecca signed with KT Tape, that excellent Kinesiology Tape I reviewed a while back. KT Tape is sponsoring a promotional ride in Central Park, so if you live in New York City, YOU have the chance to ride with Rebecca Rusch!!! Lucky dog! Details about this event are on blog at http://rebeccarusch.wordpress.com/. Her blog is a good read, and maintains the same approachable experience that I had with her.

More about Rebecca Rusch’s career, articles with “REAL” cycling questions, video and other stuff here:

Rebbeca Rusch at I am Specialized

Best At-A-Glance stats: BikePure.org

She talks to VeloNews about Cape Epic HERE

Cool Specialized Video about Cape Epic, an amazing opportunity, in the form of a race, HERE

Two great video interviews of Rebecca Rusch:

CyclingDirt.org

BikeRumor.com

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Dear Girl,

October 29, 2008

This was an email I received about one month ago. I think it shows two things: 1-How painfully serious the subject of saddles and chamois can be, and, 2-how determined women are to overcome these obstacles and stay on their bikes.

Dear Girl,

I returned to road biking this year after many years of mountain biking and I have been suffering a slew of issues including a very painful bartholin’s cyst and urethritis. I underwent surgery and several uncomfortable procedures and I am now starting to suffer urinary problems again. I never had a single problem in all the years I was mountain biking. Are there any fit issues that are more related to road riding that I may not be aware of? (I am planning to get a bike fitting with a physical therapist in town who specializes in biking issues)

Any further insight would be greatly appreciated.
A.H.

Thank you A., for being concise, and letting other women know that they are not suffering alone; these problems are more common than you think. Girls, if you are having symptoms like these, please seek help from a doctor, hopefully one who understands repetitive female genital sports injuries. Working with a bike fitter who specializes in women can also help prevent reccurance of these issues.

The problems that you are suffering can be from a number of different contributers, probably a bit of each:

1. Your position on the bike

2. Type of saddle

3. Type of chamios (or lack of)

The short answer is, yes, women who ride road suffer more from saddle issues because of the very different position on a road bike. You are probably leaning much more on your clitoris/urethra causing compression and friction. These two factors will cause pain and irritation and can eventually lead to UTIs, saddle sores, Urethral Symdrome (Here’s a link, if you are not sure of the symptoms of Urethral Syndrome), and (as you know) a slew of other issues. The solution then, is getting the pressure off of the clitoris and urethra.

1. Your position on the bike

It is important to understand the difference between mtb and road position. When you’re on a road bike, your position and weight distribution is very different than a on mountain bike. Much more weight is put on the front end, because this creates stability on the road. Typically, 55% of your weight is on the rear end, 45% is on the front end. This is in comparison to 70%/30% split for MTB. That means that your weight is tilted further forward on the saddle, so unless you have a saddle and chamois that keep the majority of your rear weight on the sit bones, you’re likely to suffer from compression.

I hope it is obvious that exactly where your saddle is positioned on your bike means EVERYTHING. So, when you set up your saddle, try the first “neutral position” for women, which is 0-5mm forward from neutral, and the saddle nearly level, with the nose pointed down “one click” (typically 1-3 degrees).

2. Type of Saddle

The saddle that you used on your mountain bike may have worked beautifully on your more upright position. But on your road bike, you need to lean down more (to get into the drops for example) on the front end. The single biggest advancement for these women’s issues has got to be the split saddle. If position properly, it will let the girly bits have a space to to breathe, preventing compression, heat build up, and excess moisture (remember that we are talking about a part of the body that is lubricious). Since switching to a properly fitted split saddle, gone are the UTIs suffered through twenty years ago. It is however, extremely important to get a saddle that fits your sit bones; for a few years I had a split saddle that was way too wide for my sit bones and this caused me to inch up on the saddle, putting the cut out where it wasn’t doing any good. The wide nose also caused thigh rub, which led to saddle sores in the bikini line. So it is important to have your sit bones measured, and to try out the saddle (many saddle brands now have demo programs, through local bike shops), so that you make sure it fits you properly.

3. Type of Chamois

So humble, this piece of technical equipment, that people often take it for granted. But not wearing chamois, or the wrong type of chamois can cause irritation by improper placement of stitching, and build up of moisture again causing problems. So what’s the right chamois, for road riders? Of course it depends upon the individual, but the chamois that I’ve had the most success with has been a split chamois, or one that has the mirror image profile of the split saddle. This is why I like Etxe Ondo clothing so much. They use a split chamois made by an italian company called Dolomiti, and it is simply the best for me. It is, however, expensive (Etxe Ondo) and you may not ride long enough distances to merit the cost vs. benefits. But there are many chamois brands that have a split, and it is a matter of determining which chamois works best for you, and you’re riding circumstance. Other women have had much success with chamois that has air holes, which increases air circulation through the area and thus reduces moisture build up ( an example is Louis Garneau). This combined with a split saddle, may solve issues for many. Generally, the more time you spend in the saddle, the more you should invest in the quality of your chamois. For serious road riding (over an hour or two), I always recommend some type of chamois, preferably with some chamois cream.

By the way, so far, the results from the “saddle problems” survey for women are as follows:

Women, are you happy with your saddle/ chamois combination?

Yes, I am happy. I hardly ever have soreness, even after a long ride. 30%
I have problems, because I’m leaning on my clitoris, causing swelling, irritation, and soreness 23%
I have problems, because I get UTIs or Urethral Syndrome 11%
I get saddle sores on my bikini line, even though I wear chamois, and lubrication 10%
My sitbones are constantly sore 10%
I have problems, because I experience chaffing, and or rubbing 8%
My thighs rub the sides of my saddle, causing sores and/or chaffing 4%
I have saddle problems (as a woman) not mentioned here 4%

So 70% of the women surveyed have some kind of painful saddle/ chamois issues.
If you experience pain either in the clitoris or urethra, would you please answer one more question?

What kind of Saddle and Chamois combination do you ride?

I ride a saddle and chamois WITHOUT a split down the middle 50%
I ride a split saddle, but chamois has no split down the middle 33%
I ride my bike WITHOUT chamois 13%
I ride a saddle without a split down the middle, but chamois WITH a split 2%
BOTH saddle and chamois have a split down the middle 2%

So half of the women surveyed who have problems, ride a saddle/chamois combination with no split down the middle.

83% of the women who have problems do not ride a split saddle.

94% of those who have problems, do not have split chamois.

(Results are still early, but the trend suggests that the advice above is is pretty solid).

And for those whose sit bones are sore, you are in the right bike position, but (my guess is) something in your set up is too soft for you, like maybe gel in the saddle or chamois. Try something with less give in it, more density (NOT thicker), either in the saddle, or the chamois.

How Cycling is Different for Women: Reaching Out.

September 27, 2008

Warning: What follows is an attempt to gain information heuristically, by survey, discussion and further research and analysis. Women, the more honest you are with me, the better I can understand the issues, so that we can all help to solve them. It will also contain both normal vernacular and medical terms, with reference to the female anatomy.

If you are a gentleman visitor here, I respectfully hand you your plate of “no boys ALOUD” right now. Go to the back of the room, sit down, and start listening, but please say nothing, and do not answer the polls if you do not have the equipment. I really only want to hear first hand experience. Thank you.

Ladies, I may have the opportunity to translate the information I gather here to help the industry gain better understanding of women’s saddle / chamois design. There are only, two questions here, but your answer is very important. You don’t have to register for anything, so you can remain anonymous and answer should take less than a minute. Thank you so much in advance, as I would really like to help as many women as I can, to cycle pain-free.
I’ve switched polling software to make it a little easier to answer.

(Here’s a link, if you are not sure of the symptoms)
If you experience pain either in the clitoris or urethra, would you please answer one more question?

If you would prefer to tell me your experiences directly, please email me at lisa@girlmeetsbike.com

Nine Beginner’s Tips

November 20, 2007

1. When wearing chamois, go commando!I truly believe that one of the most unasked questions in cycling is “do I wear underwear with chamois?” The answer is an emphatic NO. Chamois is designed to be up against the skin. Its purpose is to help eliminate areas of friction and irritation in the crotch area. If you wear underwear you can cause an area of friction, which can be painful and lead to saddle sores. Chamois is very individual, so you may have to try a few to find the one that’s shaped right for you. Also consider chamois butter, particularly for long rides. For me Assos chamois creme has made all the difference in the world (though the menthol in it is still quite shocking at times). It virtually eliminates friction. There are other brands that other people like, so it is important to find the one that is most comfortable for you.

2. If you have clipless pedals, practice clipping in and out.Practice each foot separately, (clip in right, clip out right. Repeat for five minutes. Switch to left for five minutes). Just like anything else in sports, your body needs time to adjust to muscle memory, in this case of clipping in (i.e., your body instead of your mind remembers where the cleat is located in relationship to the ball of your foot), or clipping out (i.e., instinctively knowing the angle where your “clip mechanism” disengages). At first you’ll have to think about what you’re doing, but after a while, it will become second nature to you.

3. Right is Rear brake, and Rear derailleur. Remember “double R”, Right is Rear (unless you’re British).In braking, a good habit to get into, is to squeeze the (right) rear brake first, then simultaneously, gently squeeze the front brake (left). Also, learn how to “feather” your brakes. 70% of your braking power is in your Front brake, so please use it wisely.

4. If you fall, don’t stick out your hand; instead, learn how to tuck and roll.People just instinctively do this, particularly on slow speed falls, and it’s how people break their wrists. The very best thing that you can do is hold onto the bike, take the impact with your side, and roll with it.

5. I can’t emphasize enough how important these three elements are:

1. A properly fitted bike.
2. The right clothes, gloves, shoes, and helmet.
3. The right saddle.
If you have all of this dialed, then your body becomes completely carefree and pain-free. All you’re left with is pure enjoyment on the bike. But I’ve talked with far too many people who’ve had unnecessary friction burns from ill-fitting clothing, or had pain in their contact points (hands, feet and crotch) from the wrong shoes, gloves or saddle (and boy, I’ve had my share of blunders, too).If your bike fits you properly, there should be no pain in the body; not in the neck, shoulders, back, or knees, nor in any joint. Pain in any of these places indicates that something about the position of your bike needs adjustment.

6. Know how to fix a flat. And be fully prepared at all times.That means carrying extra tubes, patches, tire levers, and pump (or CO2 cartridges), and knowing how to use them. You WILL need them someday.

7. Check your bike and your gear (your stuff) each time you go out, without exception.Know how to check these things on your bike- tires, quick release skewers, brakes, headset, and drivetrain. Check you gear – make sure you have your helmut, gloves, water, food, your flat kit (see #6), and a multi-tool, if you know how to use one.If the list is too long to remember, type one up and print it out. Look at the list each time you’re about to go out. After a while this will become second nature as well, and will only take a few minutes. You risk having an accident, and that accident having disastrous results, by not doing these simple checks. Please, please do them.

8. Know how to shift gears, if you have them.At this point, many manufacturers have different subtleties of how they shift. Learn about yours, and how to shift smoothly with them. This will make things more comfortable for you as a rider, and will make the drivetrain last longer.

9. Your bike is your friend, your baby. Love it, take care of it, and you can have many blissful years together. 🙂


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