Monday, September 21, 2009

Let nothing come between you and your chamois

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.


  1. wait, are you saying it took you 4 years to figure out that you shouldn't wear briefs under your bike shorts?

    once, me n ricky n gary n bob were riding mtbs at fish lake. bob declared that he had a bit of a brown out. but he also announced that it was okay, he'd just take off the briefs and only ride with bike shorts, he could do that for the remainder of the ride, no problem.

    the only thing funnier than hearing him say he rode with briefs under his bike shorts was watching him scrunch up the soiled briefs and tuck them into his camelback.

  2. Hi. I don't know how I find you... probably Fat Cyclist -> Dug, but I've been reading for about a month.

    How's the back?

    I've registered (and trained like mad) for the St George marathon and currently have The Back Spasm From Hell. "Happened" upon it this morning. What did you find worked the best? I'm considering a no go for the race... also having exorbitant amounts of compassion for your Lotaja situation.

    Many thanks!

  3. I hope I do not know bob. If I do he will be hazed forever.

  4. Note to self: Don't ever go to a university hospital.

  5. Blackdog, that is not me. Dug, why did you have to share that?

  6. Rabidrunner: if it's soft tissue, which I'm assuming it is, the best thing is ice and ibuprofin. Or if you're like me and can't tolerate ibuprofin, use aleve.

    I went to physical therapy and the chiropractor, and I think both did more harm than good. PT is the better of the two, but both are going to aggravate and inflame the tissue because they're going to want to push your ROM. PT wants to strengthen the muscle, but you're probably already plenty strong and just need to heal.

    Any movement you can do that won't aggravate it is good just to keep things loose. Massage is also great. The big thing, though, is to get the inflammation down and avoid aggravating the injury.

    I also used KT Tape on race day, and I'm sold on that stuff. It really works as advertised. You can leave it on for up to five days, so no need to wait for race day.

    Best of luck. Leave a comment post race and let me know how it went. Or I'll link to the post if you do a writeup.

  7. Doctor: Who can identify the observed condition?

    Hot female intern in front row: Oh, I've read about this! I think the condition is called "micro-penis."

    Doctor: Oh sorry, I should have specified that we are talking about the redness. You know, the condition we can actually treat with medication...

  8. Aaron, how did you know? They referred me to the urology department when I was done. The 13 urology interns agreed I was hung like a gorilla.

  9. New to your blog. You crack me up at times. Thx.

    Glad to hear others have had this skin issue. I am only a few months into cycling and I thought at one point I was going to scratch my ass off. Gold Bond... duly noted.

    P.S. Now if only someone had warned me about white bibs. Tired of people teasing me about the "grand canyon" while they are drafting me. Argh

  10. Cor, DZ Nuts before the ride, but if the itch persists after, Gold Bond. Just watch the pink parts when applying Gold Bond.