Girl question
I don’t want to sound like a sheep but like most of my girlfriends and to the delight of my boyfriend I have started shaving off all my pubic hair. My girlfriends are more into the gym whereas I also love the mountain biking.
Am I, as a cyclist at a greater risk of a problem/infection by shaving and spending long hours in the saddle? I pride myself on my personal hygiene and I have always used ‘Sudocrem’ as a chamois cream barrier.
You only have to look around in the gym changing rooms to see how popular this is now and I think we look better, my view.
Dianna, email

You are no more at risk from infection as long as you practice good hygiene. It goes without saying that you need get out your shorts as quick as you can at the end of each ride, make sure shorts get washed properly every time you use them and make sure you hit the showers as soon as possible. Sudocrem is great for protecting from saddle rash and making you feel more comfortable in your chamois. There are several other brands as well designed for sport which have antibacterial properties. The one problem you may find is with in-growing hairs, the friction against your shorts and the natural curliness of your hair can cause the hair to grow trapped beneath the skin. In-growing hairs can become inflamed and infected, looking and feeling very unattractive! Exfoliating with a cream containing a small amount of glycolic acid or a good scrub with a loofah should help any trapped hairs break the skins surface. Instead of shaving go for the full Hollywood wax, it will last longer, the hairs grow back finer and you will be less likely to get any problems with in-growing hairs.

Have a break
I’m going on a family holiday with my wife and two kids age 6 and 9. In exchange for all the leniency I receive regarding my Sunday morning rides I’ve agreed not to take a bike so that I can dedicate some “quality time” to family activities. We are away for ten days, I normally ride to work during the week and get a big ride in on a Sunday so that seems like a long time without a bike. How much fitness will I lose and is there anything I can do to stop it? I’m also a bit worried that the usual indulgences with holiday food will trigger the return of my middle aged belly which I have finally managed to get rid off by riding daily. Your advice would be welcome.
J. Douglas

Going without riding for ten-days isn’t the end of the world and the rest may do your body and motivation good but if you are used to being physically active a chilled out holiday can make you feel more lethargic and tired than if you were riding hard every day. Running is a great way of keeping yourself fit whilst not being too time consuming. 20-30 minutes of running will have you breathing hard and working up sweat, followed by a good stretch and warm-down this is a great way to start the day without your family thinking you’ve gone awol. If you aren’t used to running be careful though, start building up from as little as five minutes three times a week before you go. If you dive straight into thirty minute runs you are likely to ruin your holiday with painful stiff legs. The other way of course is to integrate your activity into your family time. Given the age of your kids they’d probably love to do something active with Dad whether that’s trying new sports, doing adventure trails or running in the woods it will help you feel active and burn off some calories and be fun for them. You never know you might even get away with hiring bikes for the day and taking the whole family out. Use it as an opportunity to get everyone else enthused about cycling and show them why it’s important to you. Don’t for goodness sake take them on an off-road epic that leaves everyone sore and tired or try and show off how fit you are racing them up hills! Pitch it right and you might manage a family cycling holiday next time.

Stretch marks

Since I started regular mountain biking I have lost over three stone in weight. I’m really pleased with the way my fitness has progressed and I’m glad to have my leg muscles back. The only disasatisfaction I have with my body now is shiny white and purple marks on my thighs and abdomen. I’m guessing they are stretch marks but I thought that only women got them. Is there anything I can do to reduce their appearance as for the first time in years I’m in good enough shape to take my shirt off on the beach.
S. Barnes

Stretch marks are simply a result of you rapidly losing weight. The skin has been stretched because of your weight gain and then shrunk with your weight loss. The upper layer of the skin is normal, but in the lower layer the collagen and elastin, which give the skin its strength and elasticity, have become thinner and broken. The purple will fat as blood vessels contract and recede, the shiny white is fat showing through from underneath. The marks are like scars, permanent but will fade over time. There are creams and oils that you can rub into them to reduce their appearance and encourage the skin to regenerate faster. Cocoa butter is cheap and effective or try a health food shop for plant oils which penetrate the skin better than a mineral oil. Bio-oil has been used for decades by pregnant women or try Golden Emu-oil – this has been used by sports people to soften up scar tissue and speed up recovery from injury.