After not having been on a bicycle in two decades, I bought myself cheap mountain bike last fall. I only rode it a few times as I was in so…much...pain. I can handle my legs feeling like jello but my ass hurt so bad, it felt like I had bruised the bones. When the weather gets nice I want to start again, what exercises do you suggest to help make me stronger for biking? More importantly will my butt get used to the seat or do I just have a crappy bike? Should I get a padded seat? I will be riding it on a walking /cycling trail that is fairly flat.
There is zero avoidance of a sore ass come summer weather and the start of biking season. I have been riding a bike, consistently, for 15 years and I go through exactly what you are going through every season, where the first few rides, especially those that are back to back, are a pain.
Trust me, though, the pain goes away and your butt does become used to being on a bike saddle. It is the sit bones that are causing you the pain, and eventually the pressure of the saddle on them will not feel as bad. There are, however, ways of limiting how uncomfortable your bike feels.
Step number one is invest in a good saddle. You may spend upwards of $100-$200 dollars, but it is money well spent. Go to a good bike shop and have them fit you specifically to your seat as well as measure you so you have the right size for your pelvis. Also have them fit you properly on your bike, making sure your seat height, handle bar position and pedal position are correct for your body size. When you have a proper bike fit, the weight of your body is displaced a bit more evenly on your four points of contact, which limits the amount of weight directly on your behind.
Step number two is invest in a good pair of cycling shorts. The padding in the shorts will offer some cushion, which will help alleviate the discomfort you feel. If you are self-conscious about wearing Lycra, then wear them underneath a pair of baggier shorts.
Step number three is to apply some shami butter to your ass, which is a lubricant that will help with chafing, which over a long ride can become extremely painful. I have finished long mountain bike rides in the past where I have forgotten to apply it, and have actually had to apply it on my way home in the car, in order to make it tolerable to sit and drive.
As for how to get stronger leading up to biking season, hit the gym and do squats, lunges and steps until you can’t do another. And find a spin class! Two a week would be best. But do not forget that even as prepared as you are, nothing will turn you into a strong rider except riding a bike. Be patient with yourself come the start of the season, as your first few rides on the road will feel tough.