The Importance of cycling hygiene
Key sweat points in the body, and the garments that sit there, deserve your special attention. Specifically, the crotch area where the chamois fits and bacteria thrives. Your skin when unharmed keeps bacteria on the surface where it can’t enter the body. The issue for cyclists however is movement and sweat can create abrasions through rubbing. This probability increases if you don’t have the most comfortable saddle or chamois.
This region is a prime site to develop a sore, or where clogged pores and hair follicles can become infected. This may not seem so menacing until you develop a saddle sore or an ingrown hair, and the words “abscess”, “septic”, and “pus” are then associated with your crotch. These can be pain to treat and lead to time spent off the bike, so here are a few reminders with respect to hygiene to keep you riding.
Get out of your kit
Be sure to change out of your kit right after your ride. We often have to drive to and from our riding route, or we pit stop on our way to the shower to have a quick snack. Don’t do it. Change before getting in your car or sitting down for a meal. The extra moisture and heat your body produces in this time will create a breeding ground for bacteria. Not to mention your probably stink.
Never wear shorts twice without washing
I’m surprised by how few people know how to care for their expensive shorts. The chamois in your shorts is like a sponge and will hold moisture against your skin where bacteria breeds. Furthermore, once that sweat dries it crystalizes (think microscopic razor blades), which makes the material much more abrasive against your skin and increases the likelihood of saddle sores and infections. The simple solution is to wash your shorts after each use.
Plus, you’ve likely invested good money in those shorts of yours so it would be wise to consider an active wear cleaner designed specifically for its technical fabric, as well as a chamois cream to minimize rubbing and repair gels for after your ride. You can’t prevent sweat and bacteria, but you can lessen the chance of developing sores, which act as a primary source of infection when mixed with your fitness liquids.
Wipe down your bike
This may sound like a no brainer, or maybe a non-threat as these are your own germs, but get in the habit of giving your handlebars and saddle a wipe down with antibacterial wipes after each ride. Bacteria (think influenza, C. difficile and faecal matter) can live for months on surfaces and under the right conditions start to multiply. This is an easy way to kill germs and keep your bike looking mint by removing salty sweat drips.