I don’t use chamois cream when I plan to ride only and hour or less. When I do use it, I’ve gotten pretty good at really making it last. Those small packets of Chamois Butt’r that often show up in goody bags at organized rides look like they’ll last for one application — but I can make them last for four.
So the other day I was horrified to start a longer ride and discover that I was all out of chamois cream. I had squeezed the last little bit out of the last packet I had, and I’d forgotten to get over to the LBS to get some more.
What to do?
A lot of cyclists don’t like to use Vaseline. It’s gooey, compared to the lighter chamois creams. It’s more viscous. It oozes through riding shorts and coats the saddle with a thin, greasy sheen.
But it worked well for me. And since then, I’ve found some old information that bolsters the case for using Vaseline as a bottom lubricant while biking.
Dr. Bernie Burton, described as a “cycling dermatologist” on the Rivendell website, recommends Vaseline as the top choice for chamois lubricant. Why? It’s pure, he says, and non-allergenic. In fact, he claims it’s so good that if you keep your bottom clean, you can smear Vaseline all over the chamois pad of your shorts every day and wear them for two weeks without washing them(!).
Dr. Burton suggests coating the chamois pad with Vaseline. I prefer to coat my skin with it.
If you do get a saddle sore, he says, apply Bag Balm to the irritated area right after your shower and the problem should clear up overnight.
I’ve used Bag Balm before, too, and I know it works as a chamois lubricant as well as a saddle sore treatment. Maybe Bag Balm is the way to go — you get the best of both treatment options, before and after.
But in the meantime, I’ve still got this half tub of Vaseline in the house. It occurred to me that I bought it years ago, when I was still jogging. A pre-run ritual for me was to coat the insides of my thighs up near the crotch so that area wouldn’t get raw from rubbing during the run. If it worked for jogging, why not for biking? I might as well revert to the trusty old pale yellow glop until it’s all used up — then I can figure out what I’ll do for lubes from here on out. I’ll still use chamois cream if I get freebies at rides. But for the price, I think Vaseline is hard to beat.