Infantry soldiers and backpackers can get obsessive about foot care. Whether you’re grunt on the battlefield or a gorp-munchin’ hiker in the mountains, your feet are your primary mode of transportation. A painful blister or a nasty fungus can ruin your whole day.
Bicyclists are picky about ass care for the same reason. Our butts are a primary connection to our bikes, and a festering saddle sore or other nether-region unpleasantness can turn a long ride into a sufferfest. Think about it: What other sport involves ergonomically designed saddles, pants with crotch padding, and all manner of creams and powders created specifically for keeping your crack dry and happy?
One of my sisters-in-law—not a regular cyclist—has agreed to do a 60-mile ride with friends, so she e-mailed to ask me one simple question: Is it a good idea to buy a pair of bike shorts?
Instead of simply replying “yes,” I sent back a treatise on shorts, seams, saddle height, losing underwear, and embracing chamois cream. I haven’t heard from her since. I’m unrepentant, though. A short answer simply wasn’t enough for a subject so near to my heart … and other parts.
Those of us who have traveled the path of enlightenment to butt bliss always hate to hear newbies complain about posterior pain or the “sadists” they blame for the modern bike saddle so, naturally, we want to share with them all the secrets that ensure comfort so they can learn to love riding as we do.
I believe that the combination of bad saddles and inappropriate clothing keeps countless adults from enjoying bicycles. We all know someone who decided to go on their first ride in years, only to swear they’ll never do it again because they returned home with a sore posterior. And most of them don’t know enough to realize the problem was a piece-of-junk saddle on a department-store bike, mated with a pair of cotton underwear and pants covered with cruelly folded and stitched seams.
One ride with a proper saddle and a good pair of shorts could open up a whole new world to them. I think those of us who ride all the time have a responsibility to stand up for the world’s butt cheeks and spread the word.
But I’m not sure my sister-in-law agrees at the moment.