A Pain In The Butt
by Jeff Beilfuss
Ah, hmmm, can we talk? Have you ever had, uh, discomfort ‘down there?’ No, no, I don’t mean there! Further back where you sit. Yes, I mean saddle sores or just a plain old sore butt. If you answer no to this question, perhaps you are one of the lucky ones, or perhaps you need to ride more. Maybe you’ve been avoiding those century rides for this very reason. Of course being discreet about it you just nod to your friends and say it takes too long or it’s just too long to be in the saddle. You say the metric century is fine with you but you’re really thinking that is just about the time the pain sets in. If this is you, read on.
It seems a whole industry has sprung up because of saddle discomfort. Just go out to any bike-parts website and look at the plethora of saddles for all types of riding and anatomies. You can almost picture the horse-drawn wagon with some snake-oil salesman peddling Dr. Jeramiah’s All Purpose Horse Liniment that is guaranteed to cure your horse or your ass (pun intended). Rub a little on, drink a little shot, and you are on the road again! Talk to a person who has had their favorite saddle trashed in a wreck and you would think a dear loved one has passed on. Judging by the long faces, this is serious business indeed.
Suppose for a moment you have all the bases covered: Your bike is the correct size; you’ve maybe had a custom fit; you have that perfect saddle; and you have good shorts with a great chamois. The problem is something still is not just right? Can you relate to this? If so, read on.
Now I’m back to the liniment. While at a vendors’ expo I came across the following: “Friction Freedom Chamois Cream is a cycling chamois cream that helps heal and manage existing saddle sores, while preventing chafing, and bacterial and fungal infections that cause hot spots and infections. Paraben-Free. Longest lasting. Anti-microbial. Friction Freedom Chamois Cream is in a 68% larger jar than other leading chamois cream brands. Manage, Heal and Prevent saddle sores...While preserving the life of your Chamois.” Hallelujah, brother, Dr. Jeramiah to the rescue!
I did some further research on this product and read an interview with the creator. The development process sounded quite impressive. When asked why he invented this product the response was: “I felt their [sic] was a bigger market and demand for an even better product to be made in the
I’ve tried the samples of this product and have to say the menthol feels pretty good, but shelling out $29.95 for an 8 ounce tub of butt soother and another $30 or so for your favorite king-sized container of energy drink can put a sizable dent in your wallet. I’ve written on the high-tech cyclist in previous ramblings and imagine this fits in perfectly. But hold on, here is a low-tech product to consider. What is it? Bag Balm.
This is a multi-use product: used on squeaky bed springs, psoriasis, dry facial skin, cracked fingers, burns, zits, diaper rash, saddle sores, sunburn, pruned trees, rifles, shell casings, bed sores and radiation burns. Did I see saddle sores in this list? Hallelujah, there seems to be nothing this stuff won’t fix! There is no mention of cows here. Is this a high-tech product? Hardly, this product has been around since 1899, 15 years before old Mark Twain fell off his first bicycle. The lore has it the wives of dairy farmers noticed how soft the husbands’ hands were after using this product. It was just a matter of time before distance cycling created an interest in such a product.
What are the specs for this product? According to the Associated Press: “It’s sold off pet care shelves and at farm stores for $8.99 per 10-oz. green tub (with cow's head on the lid), it's made of petrolatum, lanolin and an antiseptic, 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate — substantially the same formula used since John L. Norris bought it from a Wells River druggist before the turn of the century.” The cow’s head on the lid is enough to make you want it! It’s so retro, especially for the Brooks fans. And at $8.99 per 10-ounce tub, what a bargain! I wonder if it took two years to create.
Let me close with an excerpt from the same AP story about a cyclist who was suffering from saddle sores as he competed in the Race Across America.
Being ‘uncomfortable’ in the saddle with thousand of miles to go can’t be good.
"I was sitting there in Arizona, it's 110 degrees, the air conditioning wasn't working, the crapper in the RV wasn't working, I gotta' bike 100 miles in this heat and great, I've got to deal with this," he said. "It was nasty and filthy [the Bag Balm] and it felt weird ... But I didn't have saddle sores from then on, riding 130 miles a day. When you're on the bike, you're like 'Oh, this stuff is great.” There’s an endorsement for you!
You may be wondering what product I am endorsing. Neither. As with saddles it’s a personal preference, and you’ll have to experiment for yourself. And maybe you’re one of the fortunate ones who needs neither.
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