Sore After Long Cycle

An aerodynamic position, but likely to leave you feeling some soreness for anything over 25 miles.

On Monday, I often check my web stats to see the keywords people are searching to come to site. One which stood out was ‘sore bits after long cycle ride’ - I notice that search often comes on a Monday – presumably after someone has just done a long sportive / charity ride, when they aren’t so used to spending so long on the bike.

For the relative newcomer to cycling, the prospect of saddle sore and other ‘sore bits’ can be a major deterrent to cycling.

There are a few essential tips to minimise soreness whilst cycling

No underwear – just cycling shorts. Cycling shorts don’t have stitching in the wrong place; you wear them next to the skin. If you are doing long rides, don’t skimp – get the best quality shorts with a good solid insert. This will make a big difference to the comfort of your ride.

Preparation. If you are unused to cycling and do a 100 mile cycle ride, it’s not surprising if you do feel sore in many parts. Like many things, the body needs to adapt. You do get more used to sitting on a small saddle through gradually increasing time cycling.

Best Saddle. People often think that the bigger the saddle, the more comfortable it will be. It’s not always the case. However, it is worth getting a good quality saddle, and give yourself time to get used to it.

Saddle Sores. The most important thing with saddle sores is to ensure good hygiene and use an antiseptic to make sure no infection gets in. Dealing with saddle sore

If you are really keen, you can just ride through a saddle sore. It may feel sore for first 10 miles, but then isn’t as bad as your fear it will be.

Correct Set Up

It is important to make sure the bike is set up correctly, especially the correct saddle height

Sore Back.

Another potential sore point is the back. Make sure, you change your position and stretch. It’s good if you can be confident to sit up on the bike with no hands. This enables a straight back. If you are doing a lot of cycling, it is worth doing a few sit ups to improve lower back strength.

Get Out of the Saddle.

For most riders, this is something you will be doing automatically, but, when doing long time trials it is something I have to remember to keep doing. – Otherwise it can become tremendously painful. It is like the crotch area becomes completely numb. The secret is not to wait until pain starts – by then it’s too late. You have to get out of the saddle at regular intervals. This is important for any time trial of 50 miles or longer.


If you can get a massage after a long ride, it will help the muscles recover. It also gives you an excellent excuse to shave your legs – in case you needed one.

If you get best saddle, shorts and spend time getting used to bike, you’ll find it’s not as bad at first. Don’t let a bit or soreness put you off, next time it won’t be as bad – promise!


3 Responses to Sore After Long Cycle

  1. Brian June 26, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    These are good tips but a couple of things I would add, after spending some time with a coach:

    1) Posture – if you look at a lot of pro cyclists they don’t have the best posture but can make up for it with talent and fitness. If you can’t get to that level of fitness you need to get your posture in order. Keeping a flat back, bent elbows, and wrists high helped me a lot. It was not particularly comfortable at the start but once I got used to it my back felt better. It is funny to watch other cyclists now who are putting a lot of pressure on their necks, arms, and back.

    2) Seat position – I started out with it pointed forward a little. I now have it tilted back slightly. That’s very uncomfortable for a guy is it not? Well it might be if I didn’t follow point 1 above. With the seat tilted back I’m taking the pressure off my arms/neck/back and it is more comfortable to assume the posture from point 1.

    When the seat is tilted forward you are sort of creating a wedge for yourself and not making best use of your arms. Again this requires some getting used to as you may not be used to pulling as much when you cycle.

    Overall these things have helped me but people should experiment.

  2. Tejvan June 24, 2010 at 8:42 pm #

    Not sure why padding on saddle doesn’t work so well.

    There’s no rule about getting out of saddle , but every 10 or 15 minutes or something that feels right should be OK

  3. David June 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm #

    A non-cycling friend asked me: Why does having the padding in the shorts work better than having similar padding on the saddle? A good question which I couldn’t answer adequately. (I mentioned the seams thing but there seems more to it that this. Intuitively, even if you had seamless clothing, I think it wouldn’t be as comfortable with the padding simply moved to the saddle.)

    Re. remembering to get out of the saddle from time-to-time on a long ride –
    In some conditions I fail to do this. How long and for how often would you recommend, e.g. 10 seconds every few minutes?

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