A while back I read an account one of the top woman cross country racers wrote about her first collegiate race when she just started cycling. She didn’t know you weren’t supposed to wear anything under your cycling shorts. The team shorts had a white panel on the side, and one of the guys on the team could see her panties through the white panel. He discreetly informed her of the protocol, at which point she went in the bathroom and removed the panties and raced with them in her jersey pocket.
If only I’d had a teammate when I started riding.
As I mentioned some time back, I used to be pretty fat. It was only when my doctor told me that I needed to lose 30-40 pounds that I got serious about diet and exercise.
I was so fat that running more than two blocks was painful, so I started riding a bike. It was a second-hand road bike that had toe clips and was two sizes too big. I was completely clueless about riding but at least knew that it would be more comfortable in real cycling shorts that had a chamois in them.
So every morning before work I would ride that bike for about an hour. I thought I was flying if I averaged 16 mph. I wore a t-shirt, running shoes, and $30 cycling shorts. With briefs underneath them. Because I didn’t know better.
After a few months I developed a bit of a skin condition. I was living in Indiana, and it was summer. I figured it was just the humidity. It was, I just didn’t realize the briefs were making it about three times more humid than it needed to be and causing about 100 times more friction than there was supposed to be.
But who wants to have a doctor poke and prod and stare at your undercarriage? Not me. So I treated it with over-the-counter stuff and hoped it would go away. It didn’t. But I was stubborn.
The next year, Rachel and I got the crazy idea to run a marathon. By this time I had lost enough weight that running didn’t hurt, so I put away the bike (for about three years) and ran—or rather, at my speed, jogged—instead. The skin condition persisted.
Finally, I decided something had to be done. By this time we had moved to Ann Arbor, and I figured that with a world-class teaching hospital, I was bound to get the best skin care possible. So I made an appointment with one of the dermatology faculty. I could handle one guy examining my junk provided it brought some relief.
I was ushered into the exam room, asked to remove my pants, and given a sheet to cover up with. The doctor came in, took a look up my sheet, jotted down a few notes, and then left. I figured he’d go get his prescription pad and come back with a treatment regimen.
Instead, he came back with seven interns, four of whom were women, and all of whom were about my age and had probably played against my team in intramural football. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder in two rows, short ones in front, tall ones in back, so as to ensure everyone got a good view while the doctor lifted up my sheet again. This time he prodded around a bit, commented on the symptoms, made sure everyone got to see, and then put the sheet down.
Then with everyone still present and just the sheet hiding what no longer needed to be hidden, he talked about my diagnosis and treatment and even solicited input from the peanut gallery. The worst part? After having no fewer than eight people examine my taint and come to a consensus on how to treat it, Gold Bond lotion, available OTC, is what cleared it up.
For the mothers in the audience, I realize this is no less an ordeal than childbirth, but instead of waiting to see a cute little baby, everyone was crowding around to see a rash. And instead of going home from the hospital with said cute little baby, I went home with a tube of steroid cream and some talcum powder.