Friday, June 23, 2017

The Ironman Journey



I was on the trainer last Tuesday, and popped in a video that I got at the Ironman store when I went to watch and cheer my friend and teammate Becky when she raced in Florida. It was the 2010 Ironman. I don’t know what it was about that video but all of a sudden I got sentimental...and started thinking.

Just after Becky finished IM Florida 2012!

Twenty-five years ago I did my first Ironman distance triathlon. I went to Canada with no expectations, and just hoped to finish. A month or so before the race I adjusted my goal to not wanting to be out there for 16 hours. There were no Garmins, no fancy wheels, no elaborate nutrition plans. Early that year I raced the Frost Yer Fanny Duathlon in Austin, and Paula Newby Fraser gave a little talk about training for the different distances. I took a bunch of notes and came away with her “Key Workout Training Program”. I used this to train for Canada. I had been working as an Operations Manager for the Gap, and going to school studying Massage Therapy and hadn’t been doing much training. Races were really mostly winging it and having fun with friends. I had 10 weeks before the race and wrote out my training plan based on Paula’s key workout program. Her theory was that if you were training year in year out doing the 3 key workouts a week, one for each discipline, then you could get ready for an Ironman in 6 weeks. My longest bike up to that point was 40 miles, and my longest run was about six.

Paula's Key Workout Program

As I started the run at Ironman Canada, a Texas TriFed official that I knew (this was before it was changed to USA Triathlon) was heading out onto the run at the same time. He said, “you know Ginger, if we move right along we can break 12 hours.” I remember looking at my watch thinking, “WHAT?” I had 4:23 minutes to run the marathon. As I ran along, not really paying attention to the times that the volunteers were calling out, I saw a girl with a long ponytail running up ahead of me. I kept my eye on her, and watched as I narrowed the gap. At the halfway point I came up next to her, and went by. She picked it up and passed me. I thought I do not want to play leapfrog for another 13 miles, so I struck up a conversation with her. She was Tricia Cadden from San Diego and worked for Scott Tinley (he had a clothing company back then). We ran along together and talked about breaking 12 hours. We were clocking out 10 minute miles on the nose, and got to mile 20 and saw that we had one hour left to make it under 12:00. Well, at a 10 minute mile pace that would get us to the finish line at 12:02; I said we needed to pick it up a little. Two miles later we hadn’t made up any time and now had 40 minutes for the last 4.2 miles, which now I know mean a 9:30 mile pace. Tricia had to make a port-a-potty stop and I stopped for a minute debating on waiting for her. I told her I was going on, and she said “GO!” I remember as I got close hearing the announcer’s voice saying, “Athletes, if you can hear my voice you can break 12 hours!” It felt like I went into a full blown sprint, trying to run fast as my calves were both cramping, hitting the finish line with 4 seconds to spare! I had never expected anything like that.


It would be 10 years before I would sign up for another Ironman. Laura, and Kara, some friends of mine that I trained with in Dallas were doing IM New Zealand, and I was doing a lot of their long rides with them. Another friend, Darcy had signed up for IM Florida, and I decided to give it another try. This race ended in fiasco. Three weeks before the race I went out for my last long run, and as I started felt some pretty serious pain in my knee. I had noticed some pain during some of the rides but nothing like this. I finished the run, and I knew there was trouble. My Mom begged me not to do the race, she told me she would give me the money from the entry fee and hotel. I did the race anyway, like any typical hard headed triathlete. I remember walking and running the marathon. I would walk because I was worried about doing more damage to my knee, and then it would catch and I’d almost fall down. Then I would run a little. Repeat. And a month later had my first knee surgery, micro-fracture…this is where they cut off the flapping articular cartilage on the end of my femur and punch holes in the end of the bone hoping that the holes will ooze and bleed and fill the space with scar cartilage.


I recovered from that surgery to race again, but stuck to short distances. Five years went by and a bunch of my friends were doing the 2007 Ironman Louisville. It was the inaugural race, sure why not! The easiest way to train for Ironman (in my opinion) is when there are several people that you know doing the same race. Those long bike rides are awfully lonely if you have to do them alone. I don’t mind the solo long runs, but cycling is a different story. It was 15 years since my first Ironman. I was really happy with the outcome of this one, 15 years older and only 50 minutes slower than my first IM. My friend Mary saw me on the first loop of the run, and I remember her saying to me it didn’t even look like I was doing an Ironman (on the second loop she said I fit right in.) I finished in 12:50:55, 7th in my age group, best finish ever. But this race took its toll on my other knee. So in 2008 I was back having another micro-fracture surgery on the “good” knee.


Jump forward another 10 years to 2017. It’s been 25 years since that first Ironman. I swore I’d never do another one, my rational and reasoning being that the run training would probably take me out of the sport for good.

But who is rational? I gave it some thought and talked to my husband. What better way to exit this sport that I love? I’m not saying that I will stop racing. I will only know after seeing what my poor little knees feel like after this race. It may be time to stop, and I can't think of a better way. One of the things that prompted me on which race to choose is that my Tri-Mentee Margaret is racing at Florida. This will be her first Ironman, and my last. Fitting. Passing it on to the new guard. I can't wait to see her on the run course and cheer each other on!

My Tri-Mentee Margaret Lloyd!

So I’m in for Ironman Florida in November. I could call it a redemption race, but I don’t think I will. I have no idea what I will be capable of at 56 years old, but I know I will enjoy this journey.

I hope you will come along for the ride!

See you at the races…

IM Florida 2002 with Darcy!

IM Lou 2007 with Mary Tubb!

IM Lou with the best husband ever!





Tuesday, June 6, 2017

USMS Open Water National Championships


Earlier in the year when I was planning my race calendar I came across this open water swim in Chattanooga. This year it was the USMS Open Water National Championships. There was a 1 mile fun swim on Friday, a 2.4 mile on Saturday, and the Ultra 9 mile swim on Sunday. You could do the trifecta or choose any of the above. Since 2.4 is the Ironman distance swim I thought it would be fun. I set my goal to go sub 60 minutes. At Ironman Louisville in 2007 I swam 1:05 – that was with a partial up river swim and the majority down river, so I felt that if I could break an hour I would be happy. Little did I know that the river was moving at a force of 46K current on race day! I finished the swim in 38:40 – a sub one minute per 100 yard average! HAAHAHA!! Only in my wildest dreams could I ever swim just one 100 in that time!


The swim is held in the Tennessee river, pretty close to the same swim that is used for the Ironman that takes place there, except on the north shore of the river. The swimmers are taken upriver on a riverboat then we jump off and swim over to a 100-foot-long floating dock. The gun goes off one minute after the last swimmer is in the water.

Bill, Phoenix, Bogey, and I left for Chattanooga on Friday, hit the race venue for packet pick up, and then took the boys for a walk across Coolidge Park to check out the river. We saw some people on paddleboards going upstream and thought it didn’t look like they were having any issues, so that the current must not be very strong.

Sweet Phoenix almost 14 years old!

I was a little anxious the next morning, not because of the swim or the distance but because of all the logistics and timing for the event. There was a detailed timeline on the website outlining when to check in, when to board the boat, etc.

Hurry up and wait!


2.4 Mile
Saturday, June 3 at 8:30 a.m.
6:45 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
Swimmer check-in (packet pick up, athlete marking) at Outdoor Chattanooga.
6:45 a.m. – 7:30 a.m.
Pilot check-in at Outdoor Chattanooga. Kayakers who have their own boats will need to drop them off at GPS boat dock prior to the 7:30. Staff will be at the boat dock to watch your boats.
7:00 a.m. – 7:20 a.m.
A warm up area will be available for athletes along the North Shore from the finish under the Market Street bridge to the Blue Rhino Kayak Steps and back.
7:20 a.m. – 7:50 a.m.
Swimmers board Southern Belle Riverboat under Market Street bridge, next to finish line. There are multiple restrooms on the boat.
7:30 a.m.
Pre-Race Safety Briefing for Officials and Pilots at Outdoor Chattanooga – mandatory for officials, timers, boat support (motorized and non-motorized), and safety personnel.
7:40 a.m. (or immediately following the pre-race meeting)
Pilots will board one of two microbuses and be taken to either GPS boat dock or a private residence. Kayakers who have their own boats will need to drop them off at GPS boat dock prior to the 7:30 a.m. meeting. Staff will be at the boat dock to watch your boats.
7:50 a.m. or 8:00 a.m.
Pilots enter the water from the GPS boat dock (7:50 a.m.) and the boat dock from a private residence (8:00 a.m.).
7:55 a.m. – 8:15 a.m.
Boat ride from Market Street bridge to race start. During the boat ride to the start, we will check swimmers off the master roster and hold a safety briefing. Swimmers should leave bags on the boat, and they will be unloaded at race finish. There are restrooms on the boat.
8:30 a.m.
RACE START CHAMPIONSHIP HEAT 1
8:35 a.m.
RACE START CHAMPIONSHIP HEAT 2
9:20 a.m.
First finishers expected at finish line. A warm down area will be available along the North Shore from the finish under the Market Street bridge to the Blue Rhino Kayak steps and back.
9:30 a.m.
Lunch available for swimmers and pilots at Outdoor Chattanooga.
11:30 a.m. or 15 minutes after the last finisher
Awards ceremony at Outdoor Chattanooga.

From the looks of this it seems like someone was VERY organized. But that is about as far as that went. The race didn't start until 9:30.

At 7:30 the boat still hadn’t left the other side of the river and Bill headed up to the walking bridge over the river so he could get some photographs of the boat as it headed out. It turns out he could have stayed with me for almost another hour.

Bill's view from the bridge!

I’m not sure where the breakdown in communication happened. Before the start the riverboat was anchored downriver a little ways and on the opposite shore. The boat didn’t even start making its way over to us until after 8:00 am. It took them 3-4 tries to get the “gangplank” over to the boat launch ramp so we could board. I don’t know if it was because of the current, or operator error.


I met an interesting man as we were waiting for the boat. Jonathan Ezer was one of the original people invited to do the very first Ironman in Hawaii. Back when it was just some guys seeing if they could do the course distances of the Waikiki Rough Water Swim, the ride around the island, and the Honolulu marathon. He lived in Hawaii at the time and was the race director for the Waikiki Rough Water Swim. He didn’t do it that year because the winds changed and the jellies came out in abundance, and he was allergic to the stings. They held off the race one day hoping that the winds would change, but they didn’t so he wasn’t able to do the race.

Waving at Bill on the bridge. (the guy in white is Ezra)

On the boat I handed out a few samples of Foggies to the people around me, and one of them was from Jackson, Mississippi. I found out the he knew most of my triathlete friends from there, too! Small world stuff.


We all finally got on the boat and headed upriver. Once we got to the starting point another lengthy maneuvering began. The pilot turned the boat around too close to the start buoys, and too far out into the river. The current, which we thought didn’t look that intense was apparently very strong. I heard the race director below us tell him he needed to get closer to the floating dock, or move more upstream so we could swim down river to the dock. After some back and forth it finally got close enough and we jumped off one at time and swam diagonally to the dock. We were allowed to either just hang on to it until the start or climb up onto it. I dove in and started swimming at the angle to intercept the corner of the dock on the up river side. I was in a good line, but as I got closer I could feel the current pulling me down stream, so I angled hard to change course. Held on and felt my legs pulled hard downriver. This was going to be ONE FAST SWIM!

I watched as three ladies were trying to swim to the dock, the hadn’t angled in soon enough and were almost to the start buoys but swimming upstream and not making any progress. One of them had to finally be rescued by a kayak and brought over to the dock. People had to drag her up out of the water.  It was like Ironman Louisville when I watched people warming up, they looked like they were swimming in an endless pool. Going nowhere.

We had been instructed to keep the orange buoys on our left and stay between them and the shore. The race started and I found clear water almost immediately. I did get scratched on my shoulder once, and hit in the leg one time too, but other than that there was hardly anyone around me. That’s because the majority of the swimmers were on the opposite side of the buoys, toward the middle of the river where the current was stronger. Okay…I have to say it. I hate cheaters. It wasn’t difficult to stay inside the buoys, there wasn’t anything pulling you to the middle of the river. These people knew what they were doing. Bill said he saw the kayakers trying to get them to move back inside. And this was at the end of the swim where he could finally see us finishing. UGH…… A USMS National Championship.

Buoys on your left!
Back to the swim. The water felt amazing! The temperature was perfect! I had no idea how fast or slow I was swimming. There were some electrical wires overhead at about the half way point, and when I saw them I knew we were moving fast. I glanced at my watch and saw that my sub one hour would not be a problem!

We were supposed to touch a pad above the finish line and hold our hand on it for 3 seconds at the end, so they could get a picture of our number. The pads were WAY above the surface of the water. I kicked really hard and was able to “High Five” the pad, but that was about it. I heard a guy shout “what is your number?” and I called it out to him. I wanted to get in a little warm down but with the swift current only did a little and then got out.

See how high those touch pads are!

We had a bag drop on the boat and they were going to bring the bags to the swim exit. We apparently beat the bags back. Finally, one truck arrived, but no bag for me. It was on the next truck which arrived almost an hour after I finished. It was crazy! When the first truck arrived full of bags, everyone crowded around it looking for their bags. Some snagged theirs, others started trying to dig in the giant pile. I started grabbing bags and laying them out on the sidewalk, my bag didn't show until the 2nd truck.



We asked about the timing for awards, and were told 15 minutes, so decided to wait around. Time went on and nothing, and then finally they started awards. They were all messed up, so they said it would be another 30 minutes. Apparently the timer grouped both the Championship wave, and the non-championship wave. (On the table where the timers were, there was a opened box of TRISWIM bodywash/lotion samples. We got a sample of the shampoo in our swag but not the bodywash…apparently someone didn’t include them during bag stuffing. Hmmm…. SBR Sports Inc. is a sponsor of the race. Not good on the race organization part.

I prepped a bunch of packets of TRISWIM and Foggies to hand out pre race!

We had plans to go sightseeing so we left and headed to the hotel to take care of the babies and get on with our day!! Did the tourist thing and went to see Ruby Falls, Lookout Mountain, and ride the Incline railway! When Bill was 6 years old, their family took their first big vacation there and we wanted to see the change! I never saw Ruby Falls, we were on the extremely commercial (and annoying) tour and saw that it was going to take forever… and I started thinking about claustrophobia. We had to stop and wait a lot, and with the low ceilings I almost had a freak out. A group headed out passed coming from the opposite direction so we hopped on and blazed out of there. Yikes!!



Chattanooga was really fun! Would I do the event again if it was held here? Probably not. I actually wanted the swim to take longer, and wanted to see my time for the distance.

Of course I must pose by the turtle!

His tail indicates the speed of the current!!

Always smile at your husband!



Met  Facebook friend Kelly Randall! A fellow COBB CYCLING fan!!!
We've got to get her on THE COBB MOBB next year!!

The End


Monday, April 17, 2017

Swim Challenge Complete!! VENI, VIDI, VICI!!


33,000 YARDS DONE and DONE!!

Last week I took on “The Bat Cap Challenge”! A Swim Challenge Week of some mega yardage; more distance than I’ve ever swam before in a week. Why you ask? Oh, I don’t know…who doesn’t like a challenge? We’re triathletes after all, we LOVE challenges! 33,000 yards is double that of any other week I've ever swam! By the end of the week I was certainly tired, but very happy and felt really good!

I don’t know very many other people who would agree to do something like this with me. It seems like one of those things that people would say, “Heck yeah, I’ll do it with you!” but then find excuses and no show. Margaret enthusiastically agreed, and was there for all six days of the challenge, even if it took me picking her up on the way to the pool! I was thankful she hung in there! Margaret is a sophomore at the University of Alabama, and a member of the triathlon team, but she swam age group swimming growing up, coaches little kids in summer league, and understands swimming! More than once I was so appreciative that she understood swim workout lingo. To someone who doesn’t do a lot of typical sets it can look like hieroglyphics!

Posing, but not POSERS! We did the yards!

I posted our daily workouts on the last post I made so if you want to see them you can find them here. 

Just a brief recap of the yardage:

Day 1: 5000 (we did 5100)
I felt great this day, and the main set of fast 200’s and 500’s was Margaret’s favorite of the week. I came home and ran 4.4 miles and had a good pace! Pretty happy!

Day 2:  5100 (we did 5100)
6 x 100 at Max effort in the main set took its toll. I rode 23 miles after, even though I wanted to go home and take a nap. That afternoon I felt like dirt! How was I going to do 4 more big swims? Took some Recover-Ease, and the next morning was back to new!!

Day 3:  4500 (we did 5000)
I don’t remember much about this day, we hit all the intervals and even shortened the interval on the pulling. This was supposed to be a shorter day, because tomorrow was the big day. No running or cycling after this day.

Day 4: 6400 (we did 6800)
Why you ask on the biggest day of the week would we add 400 yards? Margaret pointed out that if we did 6800 we would be at 21,000 for the week. Of course being over-achievers, we did it. Our main set today was 10x400 on a 6:30 interval. The goal was to hold pace. In other words, try and hit the same time for all 10. I thought about it the night before and decided I needed to hit 5:40-5:45 on all of them. I put on my Tempo Trainer, and concentrated on keeping my stroke long. I went 5:44 on #1 and #10. 5:40 on #2,3,4,7. And 5:41-5:43 on the rest. I was incredibly happy! Great day! Came home and did a ton of housework and felt fine!

Day 5:  4000 (we did 6000)
Again here we go into the Over Achievers Club! Good main set today (this was one of the workouts that I took from Krista’s challenge week). This day included something that we did a COSST called a Locomotor. 25/25, 50/50, 75/75, 100/100, 75/75, 50/50, 25/25 – it’s a continuous swim going fast/easy, we wore fins. Makes an 800 go by very quickly and keeps you thinking! Ran 3 miles when I got home, and again was trashed that afternoon. Only one more day!

Day 6: 5000 (we did 5000)
The pool doesn’t open until 7:30 on Saturday, so we got a later start than usual. We were planning on riding at 9:30 with the Alabama Triathlon Team so we needed to get done. Rode another 23 miles after, and I felt like I was bonking at the end of the ride. I don’t eat breakfast before we swim at 6:00, and if I run or ride after that an energy bar usually does the trick. I think the reason I felt bad this day was because of the later than usual swim start time. I should have had more to eat on the way to the ride. Lesson learned.

Still smiling after 6800 yards! TRISWIM to the rescue!

We asked someone to take some pictures of us when we finished to commemorate our Challenge, unfortunately she seemed afraid to get too close to the water and the pictures are a little blurry. Margaret is officially a TRISWIM fan now! We would be smelling like a bottle of Clorox had it not been for the shampoo, conditioner, bodywash, and lotion!! Use the discount code: "AMBFRND17" for a 10% discount code at SBR Sports, Inc.





UA Triathletes are powered by Honey Stinger, too! #stingorbestung #HShive
The girl in the front, in the red helmet is Jessica, the president of the UA Tri Club! She qualified for KONA at IM Florida last year!! Warren, the owner of VELO City Pro Cycle and I have offered to give her a bike fit to help her positioning on the bike! Also known as a Cobb Cycling BIKE FIT!!


Sunday, April 9, 2017

Swim Challenge Week and TRISWIM to the Rescue!


The Bat Cap! Team BSC!

I have some friends who do a big swim block challenge week - also known as The Bat Cap Challenge! Michelle has done big yardage, 45-50K over 8 days. Krista just finished one of over 30K in 7 days (I think she finished off day 8 with an added 51x100 Birthday Swim for a friend of hers). I know these girls from the Recovery e21 race team that we were all on several years ago.



Team Recovery e21 at the Crawfishman Triathlon!

The pool where I swim is closed on Sundays so I’m going to go for the 30K in 6 days. (Maybe sneak in an open water swim on Day 7). I’ve recruited Margaret, a friend of mine who is on the Alabama Triathlon Team. And a couple other girls, Averi, and Jessica (also Alabama Triathletes) who may make it for all or some of the challenge!

Margaret and Me at Tri It On triathlon several years ago!


Some of the workouts I got from Krista’s challenge week, some from Tower 26 Be Race Ready Podcasts, and some of my own.



Please feel free to join us!!

Here are the workouts!


6 DAY SWIM CHALLENGE 


Day 1:  5000
1000 w/u negative split
10x50 @1:00 25 fast/25 ez

Main:
2x (200 @3:00 FAST
       300 @5:30 cruise
       500 @7:45 FAST
       300 @5:30 cruise)
200 @3:00 FAST

500 PBB ez c/d (Paddles, Buoy, Band)
100 ez kick


Day 2:  5100
700 ez
8x100 @ Progressive by 2, :20 rest (fins) 50 kick/50 swim
                 70%, 75%, 80%, 85%

Pre Main:
5x100 @75% with :10 rest
5x75 @80% with :15 rest
5x50 @85% with :15 rest
5x25 @90% with :20 rest

150ez

Main:
6 x (1x100 Max Effort :15 rest
        1x200 @65% Recover with :45 rest)

100 ez


Day 3:  4500
400 ez
300 25 kick/75 swim
4x75 @1:20 desc 1-4

Main:
4x150 @2:40 (paddles 2:30)
6X100 @1:50
3x150 @2:40
5x100 @1:45
2x150 @2:40
4x100 @1:40
1x150 @2:40
3x100 @1:35


200 cd


Day 4:  6400
1000 wu
8x50 kick fins @Progressive
8x50 swim fins ez/fast by 25
200 ez

10x400 @6:30 Hold Pace

2x200 ez


Day 5:  4000
1000 ez 75 free/ 25 non-free

Main:
2x ( 3x100 @1:40 FAST
        300 @5:00 ez
        2x150 @2:30 – 50 FAST / 100 ez)
*round 2 PPB

1000 Locomotor straight swim
25/25, 50/50, 75/75, 100/100, 75/75, 50/50, 25/25 (FAST/EZ)

200 ez


Day 6:  5000
500 ez
6X100 Kick @Progressive with :20 rest (Snorkel, Fins, Board)
1x400 Swim @70% (Snorkel, Fins)

Main:
5x (200 @3:30 <3:05
      100 @1:50  <1:26
1500
     500 paddles, buoy, band
     500 paddles, buoy
     500 paddles

3x100 (50 kick / 50 swim)

200 ez



Thank goodness that I was accepted to be an Ambassador for SBR Sports! The makers of a really amazing line of products, including TRISWIM. The shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and lotion were developed with swimmers in mind, they remove chlorine/salt water from your hair and skin. Not only does TRISWIM have more ingredients to remove Chlorine/Salt water than the competitors, it rebuilds with mega vitamins, chamomile, watercress, and Keratin. If you're a swimmer you really need to use this!

SBR Sports, Inc. also makes FOGGIES, TRISLIDE, SKIN SLICK, DIVE SLIDE, and DERMASPORT. Click on each product and it will take you to a link so you can read more about each one! I have a discount code to share with you for 10% off! Use the code: "AMBFRND17" on the www.sbrsportsinc.com site!!

I did my first open water swim last weekend with the Alabama Triathletes, and brought them all samples of FOGGIES, and SKIN SLICK. Gave them a little OWS coaching before we all headed out at Lake Tuscaloosa for an awesome swim!! They're all racing the month at USAT Collegiate Nationals which is being held here in Tuscaloosa! I'm volunteering for the race, working Transition so I can see the circus!!

Alabama Triathlon Team

Roll Tri Roll!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Are You "Saddle Sore"?





Unless you are one of a very select (and small) group of cyclists you have experienced issues when it comes to finding the right combination of a bike saddle, and cycling shorts. Those issues can include chaffing, numbness, and the dreaded saddle sores.

When I first started riding and training for triathlons some 32 years ago things were very different. The cut out, or relief channel in a bike saddle wasn’t around. It was unbelievably uncomfortable down there on a bike. The first saddle that made it a little better had somewhat of a groove down the center. Then I found one with a cut out, it was a Profile saddle and it was soft and squishy, but there was a hard plastic piece around the cut out to help it hold its shape. That thing felt like it was slicing into you. I pulled out the plastic piece and it was a little better. Then the saddle sores started, at the place where your body and leg come together.

That plastic piece was mean!

Years of dealing with saddle sores... Vaseline, Chammois Butt’r, Aquaphor… I tried a lot of different things. Still I had saddle sores. I had friends who said they would use their fingernails to basically pop them…yikes! My solution was using the sterile lancets that you could get in the diabetic supplies in the drug store, and open them up. It was painful, and gross. I would use Stridex or Clearasil wipes to clean the skin before and after, and then put Neosporin on them, and hope they would heal.

Ironman training was the worst, because it wasn’t like you could lay off riding and give them time to heal. We used moleskin or bandaids to try and protect the skin. We would wear tri shorts and bike shorts on top of them, so that the friction was in between the two, kind of like those double layer blister free socks that used to be on the market. And it never failed that I would start the race with a saddle sore (or two) …112 miles of pain, no fun.

Comfort=Speed


I’ve posted before that I’ve ridden a Cobb saddle for a long time, back from when they were still being handmade, and progressing to what would become the original V-Flow. And still I had issues with saddle sores. It wasn’t until last year when I bit the bullet and started exclusively riding in my Cobb Mobb team tri shorts for all of my rides that the problem went away. I would use them for short rides, but was nervous about riding long in them. Then I went for a 50+ mile ride and they didn't let me down!

It was the shorts! Now, I have tried lots of different shorts over the years, too. I definitely found that the zigzag stitching created a problem. Even around the back of the “chamois”, it would rub on my skin and create sores. I tried shorts that had the chamois had 4-way stretch, laser cut edges, no stitching, and still had problems. The thick padding and/or the rough stitching was the culprit!

Women's Shorts:  Why Cobb Shorts?
“There are a number of problems that come about when riding in a thick padded cycling short.

One: they bunch up into the relief channel, or general crotch area, of the saddle. This brings pressure (and maybe even pain) back to the area where the crotch relief was supposed to be. Two: they bunch up on the sides of your legs and in the creases where the leg meets the crotch. This can cause inner leg chafing and saddle sores due to the increase in friction in that area. Three: thick pads hold in sweat and reduce airflow to the crotch area, causing hot spots and can lead to some unwanted bacteria. I don’t have to tell you why all those things are unfavorable! Thin, triathlon chamois improve the airflow to the crotch, they don’t hold in sweat, and they don’t bunch up in unwanted areas.” 

So what is the difference between Cobb shorts? What makes them special? First they are 10 panel shorts, so there is no seam down the middle of the shorts in the crotch, and are sewn with 4 needle stitching. The benefit of this is a very flat and smooth seam. Second, the shape of the thin pad is not your typical hourglass, the sides are actually down your leg a bit, not right at the point where your leg meets your body. And third, “the panels are aligned so that they pull outward away from the crotch to align in the gap in the upper thigh area (where the crotch meets the leg). This way, the shorts do not wad up in that gap area.”

BINGO, that had been my problem, all that fabric would bunch up and rub and crease and cause the saddle sores. My 31-year saddle sore problem had finally been solved! (The other benefit, was no more greasy shorts from the products! Bonus!!)

Now many of you have just started riding and racing, I’m sure that is why I see so many questions about saddles, and discomfort. And luckily for you there are so many advancements in products, and research that you don’t have to go through years of discomfort.

Oh, if you want to give the Cobb shorts a try there are a couple of really good deals on the website right now. There is a super cute women’s set of shorts and tank – It says “Look Like A Beauty Train Like A Beast”! And there is also just the shorts that you can purchase separately, both are on sale! Oh and for you guys, the same thing applies to you! And there are men’s shorts as well! Cheers!

This is my friend Rachel, if you call Cobb to discuss your female comfort issues, you get to speak to a woman. So much nicer to have her to talk to than talking about your "girl pain" with a guy....




I was going to continue on in the post about saddles, but I think I’ll do that in a separate entry. Don't forget to check back!!

If you feel like doing a little reading there are many great articles on Comfort Issues on the Cobb Cycling website: