Words by Paul Hopkins
Now I’m old enough to have ridden with wool shorts when they weren’t the choice of retro fashionistas but were all we had. And with wool came a chamois insert. Yes, chamois, the same material you used to wash and polish your dad’s car on Sunday. And once used and dried it turns from a baby soft insert into a rigid, crinkly, groin shredding material that the Marquis de Sade would have been proud of. The only way to return it to it’s original state was to rub in a cream and thus chamois cream was born.
Fast forward and we are now riding on modern, man-made inserts; no more slaughtering and skinning Rupicapra rupicapra (the goat-antelope species native to mountains in Europe known as Chamois) to coddle our nether regions. However despite man’s best attempts to alleviate friction with a combination of cunning design, microfibres and anti-bacterial treatments, sometimes you can’t beat a bit of TLC.
And that’s what Soigneur’s Hors Catégorie Chamois Cream is for. Inside the glossy black tub is a light, slightly minty cream, that can be applied straight to the skin or onto your insert. Once applied it’s one of those apply and forget items. The cream goes on with a slight tingle – that’ll be the menthol working it’s minty magic I guess – but not as much as some brands I’ve tried. Soigneur also produce Tempo a chamois cream without the menthol tingle.
Prior to using the cream, on long days in the saddle, I have found myself more than a little raw, with some broken skin making riding the next day unpleasant and sometimes not an option. I found that on any rides over a couple of hours the Soigneur Chamois Cream did what it said on the tin: “prevent chafing, & saddle sores, increases comfort and extends your rides”. How much to use is up to you. I found 2 fingers worth was plenty; anymore and it’s just a slimy mess. Applied direct to the skin or to your shorts is another choice for you to make.
Not wanting to sound like an infomercial, but since using Soigneur Chamois Cream I have not had a sore day, which is all the confirmation I need. In fact going back to no cream and I did notice the difference on long, or shorter intense rides. Whether that means once you start using cream you have to carry on using it, as your nether regions become accustomed to the comfort, is a question for another day. But I’d rather my undercarriage was pampered and supple rather than battered and bruised, allowing me consecutive days of happy cycling. Chamois cream: it works.
Soigneur also produce an embrocation cream, something I see (smell, surely?) very little of nowadays, but which used to be very much part of race day preparation; just don’t mix the two up.
And, if you’re new to cycling, what I hear you asking is a soigneur? Well the definition of a soigneur is, an assistant responsible for feeding, clothing, massaging, and escorting riders; from the French “one who provides care”.