As you cycle more and more, you may find the need to use some Chamois cream.
Do you apply it to the pad in your shorts? Your under-carriage? Both? Do you actually need it?
Padded inserts in cycling shorts didn’t come about until the early 1940s when they were made from sheep’s leather. It was lovely and soft at first, but when washed and dried, became hard and abrasive. Hence the need for something to soften dried leather.
Cycling short technology has come a long way since then and could eliminate the need for any cream. Near-on perfect fabrics and fit limit friction, materials disperse moisture and chamois are washable without any stiffening. So why do we still buy chamois cream?
What is chamois cream?
Chamois cream is an anti-bacterial, viscous substance that helps eliminate friction between skin and clothing, and therefore the chafing that can occur during a ride. It comes in a number of forms including balms, creams and even powder.
Why use chamois cream?
Cyclists use chamois cream for prevention of saddle sores or, even worse, something that can leave you off the bike for several days and require medical attention: an abscess.The idea is to minimise friction and keep bacterial build-up at bay, therefore prevent any nasties. If you get sore after your ride, some saddle sore creams act as a cure to help alleviate the pain and put a stop to any further problems and help prevent infection.
Is chamois cream for you?
Riding every now and then shouldn’t cause too much discomfort, but once you start riding everyday and taking on longer rides, you’ll need to consider applying some cream.Cycling consistently over a week, especially in hot weather, is a big step up from what most riders are used to. So if you're going on a cycling holiday - make sure you pack some
Measuring Cadence, power and VO2 Max
Pedalling fast in a low gear wastes your energy. When you cycle at the wrong cadence most of your effort will go into moving your legs up and down, not moving the bike forward.
Regular cyclists tend to save their energy instinctively by choosing the most comfortable gears but some clever experiments have revealed why.
Volunteers were recruited and their oxygen consumption measured while pedalling on an exercise bike to reveal the power they put into the stationary bike. At the same time a 3D infrared video was taken of the riders, to calculate how much power they were using to move their legs.
At a low exercise intensity of 50W, it was found that pedalling in a small gear at 110 rpm more than 60 per cent of their power was used to move parts of their own body, including thighs, knees and feet while only 40 per cent of actually went into spinning the cranks. It was a massively inefficient way to ride.
These tests have to rely on a limited set of measurements from a rider, they’re put into an equation to estimate their oxygen uptake (VO2) as this is an indication of how well the body is performing.The conventional equation includes body mass and external work rate, the equation ignores pedalling rate. The experiments showed that, by adding pedalling rate, the accuracy of the equation at predicting how well a rider performs when they are working just a little below their VO2 Max, is improved
It is another case of science explaining what cyclists have learned from experience.“Cyclists and coaches are well aware of the importance of pedalling rate in cycling.....both riders and coaches spend some time manipulating their cadence in order to maximise their training effects....A significant mystery still remains to be solved by science. Cyclists do not, in practice, choose to pedal at the cadences that scientists find to be the most economical in terms of oxygen cost. Instead they choose to pedal notably faster than this,” says Professor Passfield.
So more studies are needed, as one thing is for sure, no pro is going to waste any energy by pedalling quickly in a low gear.
If this is of interest and importance read more here