Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saddle Sores and Sun Screens

Been tweeting back and forth with Frayed Laces about saddle sores. They seem to be the cycling injury no one wants to admit to or discuss, but they fucking hurt. I have been treating one for a couple of months and although it's getting a little better, it's still causing issues. So how do you treat a saddle sore? And what even causes them? Well, before I launch into my moderately underinformed analysis let me say that if you use the googles to search the subject there are many articles on the interwebs.

(Don't worry. I haven't included any pictures. You are safe to continue reading. Or not, if you NEED pictures.)

What I have learned from the articles I have skimmed is that a "crotch" (also referred to as a "groin," but I like the sound of "crotch" better) is a bacteria ridden, horrible, nasty, damp and musty place prone to excessive friction and pressure which can lead to pain and actual owies. (Sorry, slipped into kid mode.) Yeah, so? We are all built more or less the same so why do some people get saddle sores and others don't? Although I'd like to go into a long philosophical discussion of hygiene, training intensity and truth telling, I'll just list some stuff I found.

Saddle position can have an affect. Softness or firmness of your saddle can also have an effect and combined with either too thick or too thin chamois you have a multitude of factors to consider. Many times a firmer saddle is actually better than a softer saddle or thinner chamois is better than thicker. Leg length discrepancies can cause uneven peddling motion leading to a sore on one side. Sometimes a leg length discrepancy is bad enough to need to be fixed with a shim under your shoe on that side - proceed with caution on that one. Sometimes a saddle sore simply starts from an ingrown hair. (Again, check the cybernets for other causes and fancy names.)

How do you treat a saddle sore? There are about as many treatments as causes. Primary treatment - keep your "crotch" clean and dry. Duh? I have certainly ramped up my crotchal hygiene but I still have issues. (That was probably the understatement of the century.) So I switched my chamois cream/lube. I've been using Bag Balm. It was originally used for sore cow udders, but it works great as a chamois lube. I basically spread it on with a spatula because I like to be good and slippery (not really, but I use a lot.) The nice thing about it is it has an antiseptic element that helps deter infection. It's also relatively cheep and easy to find making it OK to use in massive quantities. I have also read - depending on the cause of your saddle sore - in this case an ingrown hair - that acne cream with benzoyl peroxide can help. Desitin diaper cream is FL's chamois lube of choice at the moment. I would seem to make sense to me as it did wonders for my kids' diaper rash and it's baby friendly so it's mild. I have read pros and cons about using rubbing alcohol and some other treatments. Whatever you do - DO NOT pop, squeeze, cut, pick, lick, rub or jab with pointy objects at a saddle sore. You are only asking for trouble and you DO NOT want trouble down there. You are not a surgeon or a butcher so don't play one between your legs. (And if you are a surgeon or a butcher - still don't mess around down there.)

Again, I can't repeat this disclaimer enough, read the articles yourself and if things are really bad in your "nether regions" see a doctor, stop whoring around (men and women) and DO NOT reference me as any sort authority on the subject. I really only decided to write this so I would have a reason to type "crotch" and other euphemisms multiple times.

Now, what's been working for me is the Bag Balm as a lube during rides - again, MASSIVE quantities. Then I shower and service the undercarriage with a nice mild soap. Dry the "area" thoroughly with my wife's towel - I don't want that nasty rot all over MY body. Then apply a little Neosporin + Pain Relief (or a generic equivalent - I've used both.) It's not like a shot of Novocaine to the "crotch" or anything, but it does treat the pain effectively. Some people are helped with a little careful "landscaping" in the area thereby eliminating the "steel wool effect."

As I am sure you're all interested in the state of my "taint" - it gets better when I'm not riding and then gets irritated on longer rides. It's not as bad as it used to be when I'm riding. I actually went with a softer, tri-specific saddle which allowed me to bring the nose up a bit so the saddle is more flat and that has helped. It's different for everyone.

To follow up on my sunscreen post from a few days ago. I had to pick up a new helmet with larger vents to keep my melon cooler. First long ride (4.5 hours) on a sunny day and I neglect to put sunscreen on my forehead. Looking in the mirror I can see three nice red racing stripes. Larger vents let in more sun. Sun burns - especially me. I am dumb.

My tiger stripes were light (my wife didn't ridicule me until I pointed them out to her) and faded quickly, although I have been wearing a hat when I am out so I don't look like a total moron. Good thing that Scape sunscreen works so well and doesn't run into my eyes. Looks like I'll be using a lot of it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My Wife the Ass Kicker

My wife's time in Haiti has had a profound effect on her. She's become an ass-kicking social activist type. In a good way.

A did not just simply fly to Haiti, do some work and then come home and forget about all the people down there. She has continued to be in touch and involved from all the way up here.

When A arrived in Haiti she met a psychiatrist named Sarah, who was leaving the next day. Sarah had been looking after two young girls who were completely orphaned by the earthquake. They were not related and neither had any family left living. Being teenagers they were not elegible for an orphanage, so they were on their own. Sarah asked A to continue to check on these girls and make sure they were doing OK. They are only 17 and 15 (or 13 - the one girl kept changing her story.)

(Post dental work, thus the ice pack.)

A took them under her wing and when they went out into the tent city she brought them with to observe and help her with evaluations and therapy. The older girl had a wonderful bedside manner and was interested in what A was doing. Not to say the younger girl was not, she is still just a little girl. Since they were in the "neighborhood" they insisted on taking A to their tent.

(I love this picture because it shows their tent is neat as a pin, but that these are two young girls with the stuffed animals prominently displayed.)

A was so kind to these two that she gave one of them the shirt off her back literally. The shirt she was wearing was a little revealing and she was self conscious about it. A's simple black shirt allowed her to dress more demurely and be more confident.

(The shirt on the girl to the right was A's shirt.)

So when did A become a social activist ass-kicker? When she read some incredibly ignorant comments after a story she read on CNN.com. I'm not going to bother linking to it - the story is good, but the ignorant rantings of red-necks and holier-than-thou conservatives isn't worth wasting your time. Besides A already took a bunch of them to task for being a bunch of mean-spirited morons. She just couldn't help herself. And I love her for it!

She has also continued to follow-up on these two girls - sending countless emails to people to make sure these two are continuing to be looked after and helping to find them volunteer, school and work opportunities.

(Side note: Sarah. Turns out she is Tom Brokaw's daughter. A didn't find this out until after she left - not that it makes any difference. I like Tom Brokaw even more now that I know he raised such a caring daughter uninterested in trading on his fame.)

One other story A told me was about a baby with hydrocephalus (water on the brain.) This baby was in all other ways a happy, healthy child, but because of his untreated condition he was starting to exhibit developmental delays - mostly due to his inability to lift his head. The doctors were able to get a CAT scan and consulted with the (singular) neurosurgeon who said he would be able to do the required procedure, but it would cost $2,000. When A left they were still trying to secure funding. She and our neighbor (who A went with) are trying to find out if they were able to get the money and get the baby taken care of.

This little boy's life could be healthy and normal for TWO-GRAND! It's just amazing how so little money (comparatively) could make such a huge difference. You get a little bit of an idea why my wife continues to be so passionate and involved.

If I find out any news I will be sure provide updates.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

A Successful Scape

I woke up early to get my 5 hour ride done so I wouldn't have any excuses. 6 AM and I was on the road. The day was nearly perfect. Cool, clear skies, little to no wind. The downside - it was hu-mid. The dewpoint was a single degree cooler than the air temp. (As we should all know by now, it's not the humidity, but the dewpoint that really determines how sticky it is.) I slathered on some Scape SPF 30+ sunscreen. This would be a tough test of its "sweatproof-ness," "non-eye-stinging-ness" and "screening-ness." Application was uneventful. It is nicely scent-free (or so lightly scented that I don't remember it.) I didn't need a large amount, which was nice. A modest amount covered nicely. First experience was a good experience.

For the most part, my ride was good. I did get stung by a bee as I was descending a long hill at 40 MPH. I can only imagine how insane I looked as I swatted at my inner thigh while trying to maintain control and screaming like my daughter when she was 4. (I am kidding about the screaming part -- I said "fuck" a few times, but everyone will choose to believe my previous statement.) Oh, and I am not allergic to bee stings, but we found that out last summer.

The whole ride was sunny. A little headwind came up in the last couple of hours, but nothing major. It was a beautiful ride in the farm fields of Minnesota. My biggest complaint was that I kept having to clean my glasses because I was spraying sweat all over the inside of them. (I have long, luxurious lashes and combined with my prodigious sweat production they do a nice job of coating the inside of my sunglasses.)

Now, riding for 5 hours is apparently a very dirty job, as illustrated by my legs (or "leg".)

I got a FB comment regarding this picture:

Mission accomplished! Scape sunscreen stayed with me for the duration of my ride and its protection remained undeterred by excessive sweat and road grime and I experienced no eye stinging. So is Scape "the shit"? Well, it's not completely issue-free. When I got home and looked in the mirror my face looked a little "ghosty." So did my arms and legs. There was a also a little "ghosty" residue on the kitchen table where I rested my arms after application. Deal breakers? Not at all. Barriers to a full-fledged endorsement? Not in the least.

Bottom line is I really like this product. I like the lack of scent. I actually kind of like the "ghosty" effect - I tell myself it's keeping me cool (white reflects light, right?) - and it's reassuring to see that my protection hasn't washed off even in my gallons of sweat. And the promise it won't run into your eyes? Successfully proven.

This is my go-to sunscreen for the rest of my workouts this summer. Right now it's not available in Minnesota, but you can order it at any number of on-line retailers. Thanks for the samples Scape Labs. You have a believer.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Planning to Scape

People have been raving about a new sunscreen on blogs, FB and Twitter. I checked it out, but am always skeptical about products that suddenly appear on the scene with great excitement. Then I read a tweet from Linsey Corbin -

As we all know from a previous post I have a problem with tan lines. And apparently my tan lines are also ugly.

Then MM gets a new job with this company, Scape Labs, so I contact them to see if they can point me to a retail outlet in my neck of the woods, but alas they don't have distribution here yet. Sadly, I respond that I will just have to order on-line, but they offer to send me samples, which just arrived.

And just in time because I have a 5 hour ride tomorrow and it's supposed to be sunny. I will be giving it a try and let you know how it works. Good bye ugly tan lines and thanks Scape Labs.