My Mystery Injury: The Butt Saga

On 17 July 2021, I led my first Breeze Ride with a friend. Little did I know that things were going to take a sharp turn for me and cycling after that.

It’s now 4 May 2023, and I still don’t really know what’s going on.

I remember that ride well, it was a beautiful day. We were excited to ride and we had the route planned out. I’d been changing a few things between bikes, and asked my partner to pop a saddle on my gravel bike. I didn’t really think much of it. I’ve been riding since around 2012, and I’ve never had an issue, but that was all about to change.

That day I spent almost 5 hours riding, and 10 hours outside (or so Strava tells me). The only picture that accompanied the Strava post is of some really good cake we had at the Corrwg Cwtch. The ride started fine but very quickly I realised that the saddle I had on was not right for me at all. In fact, the pressure was going directly through my sit bones, and it really hurt. Unfortunately, there was nothing I could do, it wasn’t a ride I could call off to head home, and I really didn’t think anything of it. I thought I’d just be uncomfortable for the day and that would be the end of it. I really wish that was the case.

Breeze Ride. Photo: Emma Hawkins

After rolling home late in the evening after spending a day riding, a river dip and a quick drink at the Afan Lodge I was in pain. When I tell anyone this story, I tell them when I took off my padded shorts I resembled something akin to a baboon. My arse was angry, it was swollen and this was entirely new. I’ve never had any swelling or issues from riding before. I realised later (after some extensive Googling) that the swollen parts were Bursa – for those who want to know that don’t, they are fluid-filled sacs that we have all over our body, they act as a cushion between tendon and bone.

When bursa are swollen, this is known as bursitis. I again, thought that once the swelling went down that would be the end of it. Again, I was wrong.

Pen y Fan

In the weeks that followed I had a rest, but assumed all would be well again. I was wrong. I did a long ride, had issues. I would rest, then do another ride. The longest of which was the longest I’ve ever done and it was 67.88 miles. I thought I was fine. Little did I know that I was re-traumatising the injury. Until this point, I would rest a bit and then have no issues. This all changed on 27 February 2022. Following a 28-mile ride, the pain never went away.

I’ve been to several different people, and I’m currently waiting on MRI results from the second physio I’ve been to. With the first, I had several sessions of shockwave therapy. The thing about this injury is, I don’t really know what it is. The first physio said it was high hamstring tendinopathy. Now, I’m not saying he’s wrong, but I don’t think it is. The only time I have issues is when I’m sat down.

Since the beginning of this year, I’ve been able to ride more often. I must be a bit of an idiot, or a glutton for punishment because earlier this week I did 30 miles. Bet you can guess what happened? Yep, I have an angry butt.

I will admit I’ve not done much in the way of rehab. It’s a little difficult to treat something when you don’t know what it is. Especially when there’s conflicting information. I’m also awful at sticking to a rehab plan. I hate myself for it.

I thought writing about this might help. I’m not entirely sure if it has. I will try to keep updating this, though. I can’t be the only mountain biker going through this kind of issue, so if you too have an angry butt, you’re not alone.

I really hope this MRI shows something. I’d love to be able to sit down with no pain again.