Through my years riding bikes, I’ve had lot of unavoidable glances at men’s bits and bottoms and heard lots of talk about blisters here, chafing there and of course, the inevitable saddle sores.
After races I’ve watched men change beside the trunk/boot of their cars into their regular shorts because it’s bad, and not very comfy, to sit around in sweaty bike shorts any longer than you have to.
I’ve also seen lots of my male riding companions stop for roadside pee breaks and spend a few minutes rearranging their boy bits before getting back on the bike.
(I know talk of “boy bits” and “girl bits” seems cute and coy but I’m actually stuck for terminology other than genitalia which seems a tad scientific and formal.)
And the conversations about genital comfort and bike seat and short choices never lets up. Add bike related concerns about impotence and infertility and you could manage a whole century ride on the subject.
I say this with lots of love, affection, and respect for my male riding companions.
If you’re a woman considering riding with men, you can’t say you haven’t been warned.
But in mixed groups women seem not to do any of these things. It’s as if we don’t have genitalia that might be affected by shorts, seats, riding position. We don’t talk about it around men. Certainly there’s no changing in public after races. And women will ride a long way to avoid peeing by the roadside. I once refused to add 10 km to a ride over a 100 km in order to find suitable shubbery.
In single sex training and social rides things are a bit different. We’ve had lively chats about whether shaving, waxing or opting for full grown pubic hair makes a difference in riding comfort.
Here in middle North America, corn fields help with the problem of road side urination although I’ve had some disappointments in the fall when all the ears have been cut down.
We women chat about bike seats and try out different seats for comfort.
We compare brands of bike shorts and chamois and chat about what works best for long rides, short jaunts, or triathlons.
I wish the women were as open in conversation as the men. Manly discussion of genitals seems to know no bounds.
My advice for women wondering about riding and comfort down there: Try different seats and find one that works (hint: it might not be a women’s specific saddle, see Why “women’s specific” anything is likely a bad idea), money on good bike shorts is very well spent and I find bib shirts work best, change and wash your bike shorts immediately after wearing them, of course don’t wear anything under bike shorts (that’s silly, read why here), don’t put off peeing if you need to go on the road, pull over and pee by the roadside, the world won’t end.
Here’s some resources
A delicate matter: cycling and genital problems
How cycling is different for women
Women only cycling issues explained
Female anatomy and saddle discomfort
Oh, and I don’t recommend stretchy knit hot pants. Image from the Smithsonian’s blog post about hot pants.