‘Well yes it does, thank you for asking!’ One of the most common questions I have gotten about my journey thus far is ‘but how do you keep your bum from hurting?’. In all reality I probably should have thought about this a lot more before I left for the bike tour. I was pretty caught up in the idea that I wanted to buy the least cyclist looking clothing I could so I could look like a cute non-cyclist on the bike. It pains me to say this was a mistake.
My partner convinced me a while back I would need a good warm pair of bib tights, with bottom padding, so I asked for the Castelli warm pair as a present. I definitely don’t regret getting these, I have actually worn them a lot, but they probably heightened my resolve that I didn’t want bike clothes. Bibs, are in my opinion, the opposite of casual Gigi Hadid gym chic. Plus they make going to the bathroom really hard! I know if you read lots of womens blogs on what bike bottoms to get they swear by bibs, but unfortunately all bike bibs did was put me off bike clothing further.
So continuing on my journey into becoming a full time cycle tourist, I was packing for a tour of Europe in the summer without buying any cycling shorts. I am not really sure how I thought I would accomplish this, but I was much more worried about what else I would wear instead of my cycle shorts. My partner, understanding I was being pretty naive, gifted me some Humvee cycle shorts. He thought maybe I would like these because instead of your usual spandex bike look they had a padded insert with loose fitting pocketed shorts that are worn on top. This was definitely not the look I was going for! I am just not a loose fitting, long, pocketed short kind of girl, but I settled for them all the same. I did start wearing them on the trip and the padding was pretty good but as the muscles in my legs got more defined the elastic grip at the bottom of the leg started eating into my skin. Not ok on a 40 mile day in the heat! I tried cutting the seam, which didn’t work, before I came to the realisation that, I am a cyclist and I need shorts!
Unfortunately with this epiphany I didn’t also realise that I needed to spend some time on trying out different shorts and some money on good quality shorts. We stopped at the next Decathlon we came accross. For those of you who don’t know, Decathalon is a discount European outdoors shop. Please don’t take this as me putting Decathalon down in any way, they are a great shop with incredibly reasonably priced sporting goods, however if you are planning on spending thousands of miles in the saddle this is probably not where you want to pick up your clothing. Moving on, I did buy my first pair of of lycra shorts from there, for 15 euros! As you can imagine this wasn’t my best idea, the shorts had very little padding and more importantly it wasn’t stiff enough for my needs. On a positive note, they weren’t bibs which for me were much more comfortable.
After a few days in these shorts I finally realised my bum is really hurting and I needed really good shorts! I stopped in a lot of bike shops to try on shorts and I spent a lot of time researching shorts online. In the end I found a pair of Gore riding shorts that are excellent for me. They have stiffer padding, fabric seams around the thighs and a dropped front seem so that is more comfortable when you are riding. The shorts were pretty expensive for my budget, €87, but you can spend as much as £200 on good shorts. I also reinvested in some long overshorts that are super light from Gore as well. Although as I said before I am not really a long baggy short kind of girl, I did want a pair of these for when we enter countries that not as many women walk around in lycra.
The moral of this story as you might have guessed is that as much as you try to fight It, if your going on epic bike tour, you are a cyclist!, so unfortunately you need to invest some time and money into cyclist clothes. Oh and good bum cream should also be in your shopping list!