Bottom’s Up

As evidence of the fact that there is nothing going on in the cycling world in Winnipeg in February and March, I am writing this post about crotch soreness. I have been contemplating the need for something to aid this common cycling problem for my upcoming trip to Tucson. (oh, did I not mention I’m going to Tucson? I am going to Tucson for a wicked week long cycling camp for, like 8 days and am going to ride my ass off for like, 6 days in the hot Arizona sun on nice paved roads and come back with sore legs and a wicked tan. Just in case you didn’t know.)

When I first started riding I was astonished by the ridiculously small and hard saddles that good road bikes were fitted with, but figured there was enough engineering and design behind them that somehow they would be comfortable. Not true. No matter how you position yourself on even the most expensive saddle in the world, after a long enough duration with the majority of your body weight squarely on your crotch, your crotch WILL hurt. This is something that is universally true across the great gender divide. Standing on your pedals from time to time will help, but after 3 or four hours that will only go so far. So began my research into easing the discomfort that seemed to be a forgone conclusion in the almighty sport of cycling.

It was no surprise to discover the vast and varied opinions out there on the topic. When all of the factors and all possible combinations are considered, there are as many solutions as there are crotches. Some swear by lotions, creams, butters, salves and the like, opting to butter their butts and bits to avoid chaffing. Others refuse this ritual and instead extol the virtues of good quality, tight-fitting shorts with a perfectly engineered chamois*. A good saddle matched to your particular physique seems universally favoured, but how one goes about finding your perfect match without trying out a million different saddles on a million different rides I’ll never know. And as far as I can tell, a new saddle is sort of like a new pair of high heels. They are murder the first couple of times out, producing blisters that would make a grown man cry like a schoolgirl. After the initial pain, either the shoes (saddle) soften up or your feet (privates) develop calluses so tough you can’t feel anything anymore. So a saddle “test-drive” seems a complete waste of time. So my conclusion is that assuming you have proper bike shorts with a good chamois and a descent saddle, the only real remedy to extreme saddle soreness is getting yourself “broken in” through plenty of riding. I should also note that going commando in your cycling shorts is of utmost importance. All the science that goes into making these high performance sport garments is rendered absolutely useless by a pair of lacy thong panties.

But I digress. Saddle creams are admittedly intriguing. Being a woman madly in love with the promise and smells of lotions and potions of any kind, I can’t help but wonder what marvelous side effects might lay in store. Perhaps I’ll smell of freshly cut grass, or have the privates of a 20 year old. I did have the opportunity to try one such cream, aptly called “Assos Saddle Cream” before a particularly long indoor ride. Immediately upon application I experienced an unpleasant warm, tingly and “minty” sensation, similar to the one you get with Vick’s Vapo-Rub. My first fear that I was experiencing the beginning of a severe allergic reaction, but I was reassured that the sensation was normal. Which was a relief, especially considering the horrific possibility of an emergency room visit.

In any case, I will go to Tucson equipped with good and proper cycling shorts (3 pairs), my well-worn saddle, and perhaps even more worn-in butt. I think I’ll also pick up some saddle cream, just for the heck of it. But despite all of these efforts, at the end of six solid days of cycling I suspect my poor beaten fanny will be lying somewhere on a stretch of Arizona highway under the desert sun, smelling of freshly cut grass.

*For those not in the “Cycle Geek” category, a chamois is a fancy term for the butt and crotch padding that is sewn into proper bike shorts. And yes, they are exactly as unflattering as they sound.