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I am Jess, I am a mum (21 years ago mind you) who wears childbearing proof in all the areas you don’t want to see.

I am 42 years of age and ride my bike nearly every single day of my life and sometimes more than once a day and sometimes literally all day long and into the next day.

It would therefore come as no surprise that my ‘bits’ are something that I really have to be concerned about for if things go bad down there, I can no longer ride my bike until all is healed.

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Not only is this a concern, but also comfort all round, no nagging waistbands, no circuit breaking thigh stranglers and it would be nice if I looked kinda decent too.

Let me give you a description of me.

I am fit and strong, yet a little soft, like a firm mattress base with a cloud like pillow topper!  
My body shape also lends to that of a track sprinter not an endurance mountain biker and my thighs are of large proportion.  
My grandma used to say I was blessed with the Anthonsen thighs.  This is from my Norwegian heritage.  However my dad descends from the Netherlands and I think I have a lot of Dutch in me as well.  
Either way, this strong solid body I have been blessed with has challenges when finding well fitting cycling clothing, especially in the ‘thigh’ department.

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Perhaps I am just a mere sample of what it is like to be a woman.  
Not a born athlete, not a genetic lean machine.  
Just someone committed to being the best person she can be with what she was born with.
Somehow I suspect I am not on my own.

The Cycling Short.
Back in the day cycling shorts started out being made of a wool knit, for it had properties of stretch, moisture wicking and obviously had some temperature controlling properties.
I don’t suspect these early cycling ‘race shorts’ were as comfy as todays, but they were most likely more comfortable than a pair of trousers with a band around the shin to stop getting in the chain.

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They were ingeniously made with a chamois leather padding area for the ‘soft bits’ that sit between the groin and the saddle.  This became soft leather when a cream was applied, but when washed and dried, it was as brittle and hard as dried kelp on the beach.

As you could imagine, when wool gets worn and wet it gets heavy requiring tighter waistbands, but this is uncomfortable, so came the use of clip on braces to keep them up without increasing elastic use.  

And so the bib and brace knick evolved and over time we have grown to love our lycra and synthetic padded chamois.

I wish it was as simple as this.

Lets go back to my legs.

Trunks, thick ones, with a pillow top above the firm mattress, there is much to be squeezed and sucked in by grippers and leg bands that turn acceptable cycling legs into fat pork sausages, and the cut of the short, panels that channel excess flesh into sections like a goose down doona.

Am I the only one nodding here?

Lets cover selection of fabric, whilst I love the smoothness of some of the euro lycra, its huggability is a little too relaxed.  Firm is where its at!  
Then you have sublistatic printed black panels in places where thighs and buttocks create a stretch so firm that the fabric colour is no longer black and instead a mottled almost see-through grey.

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What about waist height of the bib knick, too low so you get the kangaroo pouch spewing forth as you lean in your race position, or too ‘harry high pants’ that you now look 3 months pregnant and feel slightly claustrophobic?
I personally have also had issues with the padded chamois.

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Less is more for me.

Let me tell you a few of my experiences…too much movement of chamois, bad fitting lycra causing hair follicle irritation and sweat pimples.  A chamois with a direct centre line that actually creates a dreaded camel toe and a frontal wedgie.  I have had chaffing in the nether regions doing a 24hr with such a chamois.  Then there is the one that just has far too much padding, this creates friction between your pubic region and the chamois again causing inflammation and sweat pimples.

I have also worn cycling shorts with a waist band in a 24hr for ease of ‘dropping my dacks” for wee stops, but this just created bruising around my waist for days later.

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Ok…this is not meant to be a whinge, its meant to be a discussion of what does it mean to find the perfect pair of cycling knicks.

We all have our body hang ups, and clothing preferences but if I could tell cycling gear manufacturers 8 points to highly consider when making women’s cycling knicks it would be:

  1. Firm flattering fabric to create a great base

  2. Panels that lengthen the leg and create a nice support curve around the hamstring/ butt area and also when you lean over into position a gap does not occur from the cut of the design.  Smaller panels at the waist to taper in.

  3. Keep printed panels small and certainly consider a thicker or double layer fabric for rear prints

  4. Dark Colours are best, think ‘stealth’.  No one ever looked stealth in red knicks did they? ;)

  5. Grippers.  What really works? Without naming brands, there is a company that use injection gripper that is, some silicone injected onto the fabric where you want it to sit on the leg..these are the bomb! minimal ride up, maximum comfort and helps you look good.  Please avoid sausage leg grippers, this includes the old fashioned elastic woven gripper or the new style ‘fancy’ waist band style elastic like you can get at a fabric shop. Thumbs down to sausage legs.

  6. Chamois selection.  For the women, we don't need the big modesty pad up top, keep it neat, keep it compact, avoid giving us a frontal wedgie with a ‘taco’ folding chamois if you know what I mean ;) and seriously ‘less is more’ - we do not need nappies.  But for the men, please do add  a chamois with a modesty extension that covers the anatomical display of man hood, for everyones sake.

  7. Bib knicks are fantastic but really do you need to mess with frontal design, drop pants buttons, front hooks etc…I am totally fine with the old bib n brace vertical design.  Maybe just taper it in more for women so it sits on our boobs, not separates!   I like the front of my bib knick to come just below my belly button,  no lower no higher as it sits well without any hassles.  Thats just me.  Please give us women a slightly higher back and slightly lower/longer jersey length.  When we lean over we sometimes get a bit of separation and show off a bit of mesh.

  8. Sell us TOP OF THE LINE gear.  We will buy it.  Good fit, good looks, flattering and design all comes with a price and we will pay for it gladly…shitty lycra is only good for spin classes.

Leg Warmers…anyone?

I have 2 good friends and myself who choose to avoid leg warmers even in the cold of winter.

I have some 3/4 length knicks I wear instead.

WHY?

Traditional leg warmers have that dreaded tight elastic top, sometimes with a silicone gripper and elastic.  When placed on at correct size to stay put, my leg warmers are a medium and consequently give me the dreaded ‘DOUBLE BUM’.

What is a double bum? Exactly what is says.  2 bums.

First you get the real buttocks and then the gripper of the leg warmer and the gripper of the knicks gives you your second bum.

Now I have sat behind men with low fat percentages and noticed DB’s.

So can we just get this out in the open, DB’s are real, we all have a variation of what we look like from behind depending on what we were gifted with from our parents.

How can we eliminate DB’s? I had a pair of DeFeet woollen knit leg warmers & I lost them, they had a soft knitted top like a wide sock, they were divine.  
Can I find them again? They were the answer.  Knit the damn top like a sock and DB’s be gone.

If anyone reads this story and knows where an Aussie can get a pair I would be forever in debt and eternally grateful on cold days.

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As a 3 x World solo 24hr MTB Champion and having raced and ridden all over the world in short, long and multi day stage races, here's what I've learnt about girls cycling bits.

  1. Do not wear knickers (underwear) - go bare skin on the chamois.

  2. Do use chamois cream and if you don't have this, use zinc cream or any cream including Paw paw ointment out of my lip balm tube and even sunscreen!  Not only does this help with friction, if your chamois cream has healing or antibacterial properties, you are already one step ahead.

  3. Do get out of your knicks asap and have baby wipes to fresh up everywhere including down there.

  4. If you get a sweat pimple or a sore that produces puss, get some ointment on it. I have also used haemorrhoid cream with an anaesthetic in it.  I have even popped the puss sores with a pin and then used tea tree oil on it and gone that day with no underwear.  It healed really really quick and was back on the bike the next day.  Whatever you do hygiene is essential.  This is just what I have done to survive.

  5. I have ‘wet my knicks’ before to win a race.  I probably spent 12 hrs in urinated knicks and I won and I survived.  Us humans are pretty resilient

  6. The fact is, your largest contact point on the bike is your sit bones/genital region.  Get a saddle that allows your sit bones to prop you up and gain power from your gluteals.  This will not eliminate the grind you will get in your genital region, but if you find a saddle, a sensational pair of cycling knicks and a “go to” chamois cream (best is a baby nappy rash zinc cream) and a bike fit where you are getting the most amount of power with the least amount of pressure you are winning.  Cycling is going to numb you down there, so become more efficient at pedalling, get out of the saddle more often, have all your contact points (feet hands and bum) distributing pressure correctly.

  7. Stay clean.  When I have to skimp on a shower, baby wipes, eucalyptus spray or a pre packed wet face washer in plastic bag can freshen you up and keep you clean in an instant.

Thanks for listening, this is a topic that I am sure many women can relate to and perhaps have their own experiences?  

We would love to hear from you and would happily collate your experiences into a story to share so if you are keen, send us a few paragraphs to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.