One for The Boys
After a recent post about the proper way in which to attire oneself while enjoying a bike ride in frigid temperatures, I received a rather interesting question from a reader named Steve. Steve shared some tips about his hemet set up, then described a puzzling dilemma from much farther south of the border:
“So I’ve got the head figured out for myself – it’s my…uh…other region! You know, the family jewels? Uh…yeah. Even with a double layer of military polypro longjohns and a pair of windpants (admittedly, very cheap and thin windpants), I still freeze my nuts! I’ve not seen any site that addresses this problem for males! I haven’t tried any formal winter cycling pants yet, such as those that MEC carries. Once somebody buys one of my kids (so far, no takers) perhaps I can start looking at those. I had to…ummmmm…use a glove on one ride (boosting my appearance…or perhaps not!) and bike home without a glove on one hand! Suggestions anybody?” – Steve
The question was not necessarily directed at me, but more likely other (presumably male) readers. I guess poor Steve was under the misconception that people actually read this blog. I waited nervously to see if anyone would respond, and when they did not, I decided to take matters into my own hands (by the way this post will be littered with as many double entendres as possible), and search out some potential solutions to Steve’s rather delicate problem.
Coming from a climate that could generally described as frigid, I was able to approach some knowledgeable locals who have experience in such matters. I also put out some feelers into the open drawers of the Twitterverse, which proved to be a very fertile source of information, genitally speaking.
Loving the Layers
On the practical side of things, layering was a popular solution. Local boy and recent Arrowhead 135 finisher Hal says the best thing to do is layer and wind proof that area. He also says you need to accept the fact that The Boys will go into hiding, and there’s not much you can do about it. Hal wears cycling shorts, base layer if it’s not too cold, and then some mountain biking pants that he got at MEC. If it’s really cold he substitutes the base layer with x-country ski pants that have wind panels in front. Avoid something like Gore-Tex because you will get too hot, sweat, and then get cold. Remember dry usually equals warm. And nobody likes Schweddy Balls.
A Nordic Tweep from Iceland wears three quarter cycling bibs (think capris but tighter and more macho) and endura thermal windstopper longs over. He tells me The Boys stay warm and cozy every ride, a description that somehow makes me think of two furry kittens snuggled in front of a fire. John from Colorado layers micro-fleece pants over regular spandex and leg warmers.
Miracle Product Endorsement
Enough people mentioned Craft Windstopper Boxers that I would be remiss not to give them a plug. This included a thumbs up from Cycleboredom, a favourite Tweep, fellow designer and blogger from Arlington, Virginia. He says they are AMAZING and are his “winter pelota-saver.” After some head scratching, I discovered that pelota is Spanish for “ball”. And you thought you’d never learn anything here.
Cheap and Cheerful
In his query, Steve alludes to budgetary constraints as a result of the inability thus far to sell any of his children. I feel your pain buddy. Tweep and blogger Mrs. North of 60 from the Yukon may not be a man, but she knows a little something about the cold. She tells me that she’s heard a grocery bag outside the undies does a pretty good job of keeping things warm down there, presumably by stopping the wind. God knows I have a million plastic bags around the house from all the times I forget my fabric ones when I go to the store. This is a secondary purpose I would not have thought of, and certainly puts a more positive spin on getting bagged.
I read a similar suggestion from a local skier who credits the survival of his nearly frozen nads to an errant ziploc bag he had in his pack on a particularly long and cold solo lake ski. I would suggest, however, that while it is ok to put your junk into a bag that once held your food, it is less advisable to do the opposite.Tim from Twitter tells me a well positioned wool sock also does the trick. I love this idea because of the practicality and added visual enhancements it offers. You can also have a lot of fun with this if you are the crafty sort.
Off the Beaten Path
I had rather unorthodox and conflicting reports from my European Twitter friends. David from Essex tells me he likes to tuck in behind one of the girls, as the pleasant view and reduction in wind generally keeps him and his package warm and smiling – while Pure Mountains from Sierra Nevada in Spain assures me The Boys can handle themselves, and not to worry. But I would expect no less of the Spanish.
Solo mountain bike racer and Guinness World Record holder Dave Buchanan from the UK recommends goose fat (although I’m pretty sure he’s joking) and good old normal winter tights. I suspect if you used goose fat you might attract unwanted attention on winter trail rides.And the best answer:
“I just ride harder”.
Thanks to everyone who offered advice freely, openly and with no creepiness whatsoever. I’m sure Steve, His Boys, and his children will appreciate it. Thanks also to Mark Reimer for the great black and white photo of the boys (not to be confused with The Boys) riding in winter.