The Sorts of Saddle Sores, and Their Sources

03.21.2007 | 9:50 am

A Note from Fatty: I’m under end-of-quarter / end of first year deadline pressure at work, so Al Maviva — one of the frequent commenters on this blog — said he’d write a guest post.

I didn’t expect it to be 4000+ words long, nor did I expect it to be quite so…ummm…graphic.

My recommendations: take occasional breaks as you read this. Stand up. Stretch. Walk around a bit until the feeling comes back in your legs. Also, maybe keep a barf bag handy, cuz Al gets pretty gross.

As you know, Fatty’s non-wounded hand is completely taken up with stuffing his face and picking his nose, and messing with a dangly little skin tag two inches below his third nipple. So it’s tough for him to write new material, and he asked me to come up with something to fill some space until he is back up and scribbling at full deranged capacity. I was warned – it has to be tasteful, informative, and above all, in keeping with high tone of the site. 

Thus I’m going to treat you to my disgusting taxonomy of repulsive saddle sores.


Anyway. It was hard duty – you couldn’t really wash a leather chamois, not without turning it into something resembling 220 grit emery paper, which then reverted into a .5 inch snot steak when wet – a delightful thing to ride along on for a snail. Not so good for a young man. Nor could you properly wash wool. Woolite only makes wool sort of waxy and gives it a baby smell, it doesn’t get out that delightful odor which scares off skunks and vultures, as well as non-roadie potential girlfriends/boyfriends. It was in the days before sportwool, and the invention of cashmere sheep, which are born with nice soft Nehru jackets on their backs.

So way back then in the drug and comfort-free days, we useta rub ground up gravel on our bottoms to toughen ourselves up and smack some kosher sea salt on there to sterilize our constantly raw bottoms, and take frequent hits of Dr. Eufemiano Fuentes’ Patent Hair Restorer and Velocipede Operator Climbing Solution.

Eh, not really and this is going way off track. But the simple truth is leather and coarse wool was tough on the bottom, fancy chamois crème was unheard of among the morons with whom I rode, and it was not unknown for people to wear tighty whities under their shorts, little bits of extra cloth, or to double bag (i.e. two pairs of shorts); to do just about anything to stick something extra in between seat and bottom. It was not much removed from the early days of the Tour de France when riders would stick a steak double wrapped in butcher’s paper between their shorts and their bottom, ride all day, then eat the steak at night – though the way our shorts stank, I think I’d rather eat a rare steak seasoned under Gino Bartali’s hairy Italian butt during a five “hors categorie” day at the tour, than sniff my own shorts. And man, did they ever itch. I think those old shorts were actually made out of the nose hairs of aged goats, blended 60/40 with rusty steel wool used to scrub the barnacles of WWI vintage German battleships. dang, completely off the rails again.

Where was I? Oh yeah, buttache. Not surprisingly, we would get epic saddle sores. Great big red rub marks, that turned into little slimy battlefields, where the white blood cells duked it out with nasty bacteria, on a blood red plain. There was no satisfactory treatment for it, save some betadine, some baby powder, and a couple days off the bike, and with a little luck, you didn’t get a huge abscess.

I didn’t get bad saddlesores often, call it the luck of the young and stupid. Yet I marveled at the guys who did get sores, and who were off their bikes for weeks at a time, moaning it was just too painful to keep riding. I used to make fun of the old guys especially, since they seemed really vulnerable to it. Old to me, at that age, was 28.

Imagine my surprise upon returning to the world of road riding a couple years ago, when I discovered that chamoises now come in a wide variety of materials and padding styles, that there are fancy chamois creams, and people actually know (and are willing to share) how to avoid saddle sores. Imagine my surprise too, to discover that my bottom has now grown wookie hair, such that it looks a lot like Fatty’s arm, except without all the stitches and with several fewer fingernails.  In other words, my hirsute hind has happily welcomed me to the universe of Saddlesores, despite the advances in chamois technology. Consequently, I know more about the problems associated with saddles and hard riding than your average jockey at Pimlico.  

This led to me using scientific methods (a small hand-held mirror, and 20/40 eyesight) to closely observe this phylum (saddlesoricus painintheassicus), and to develop a taxonomy for it. You got your airsick bags handy? Here we go.

Should have used the Assos chamois crème. Prevents the Luxury Monkeybutt.Busted Big Butt Bruise
First off is the simple Busted Big Butt Bruise – purple spots on the sit bones, with very mild abrasions akin to razor burn. You get these from not riding much, then putting in a reasonably long day – which for regular riders is going from 25-30 mile days, to a 65-70 miler. Or if you don’t ride much, we’re talking about 6 miles, probably in your cutoff jean shorts and tie-die tanktop on your way to getting arrested at the adult theater. I suspect Boz gets these sores 100% of the occasions that he rides, i.e. twice yearly. The only solution is to ride more, or less, or to simply quit yer moanin about it, ya big nancy boy. We’d have never built this country if people like you had been in charge. “Oh, General Washington, my butt hurts. We can’t possibly ride across the Delaware tonight. I could never sit in that rowboat on that board.” “Oh, General Lafayette, my rear is tender. Do we have to form up in a square and march against the British?  I’m sure Yorktown can defend itself.” You people with your purple butts make me sick.

Yet again, I digress.

Cross section of a fat cyclist's raw bottom. Note the fine marbling of fat: this fat cyclist has a tender bottom.Sirloin Steak Sitbone Scrape
Second is the Sirloin Steak Sitbone Scrape. These are characterized by twin red spots under the sit bones, with exposed meat that looks something like a cheap steak that was beaten, driven over by an 18 wheeler, marinated in A-1, and left out in the sun a little too long before being chewed on by crazed dingos. Yeah, there’s some flesh bruising – but there isn’t enough skin left on those two spots to have skin on which to display purple and yellow colors.

Frequently, one side is more bruised than the other – it means your saddle is crooked or you are pedaling more with one leg than the other and need to do some one legged pedaling drills. It isn’t infected like some of the other kinds of saddle sores, but infection is a definite possibility. These things put you in constant mid-grade pain, and the only known treatment is to not wear pants for at least a week, which makes things real interesting in the workplace. Sure, it means a sexual harassment claim from pretty much everybody in the office, but do you want to heal up and ride, or do you just want to sit there complaining about it?

On the plus side of the coin, the pervy dude in your office, the one who works on the copier, who wears a black trenchcoat *all the time* and who can’t seem to grow a mustache, expresses an interest in bike commuting for the first time.   On the down side, you simply confirmed what everybody else in the office always knew about serious bikers. perverts! All of them!

Samurai Sword of Saddle Suffering
Third is the Samurai Sword of Saddle Suffering. These stabbing pains normally come from a tiny ingrown hair or blocked pore, giving rise to an equally tiny but brutally painful little pimple. To the fingers, they feel like a grain of sand stuck just under the skin, and while beauty is only skin deep, these hurt right down to the bone. To the butt, they feel like a mid-sized samurai sword lodged just under the skin.

These tiny sores probably come from poor hygiene, or maybe from toughening up your skin so much that your hairs get worn down and decide to try growing into your body, rather than out, in a vain attempt to avoid getting ground down into your cheapjack Nashbar shorts, ya big cheap bugger. (Hey, I can’t help it. even your saddle sores don’t want to be seen in Nashbar gear. the folks at EtxeOndo will confirm that if you spend lots of money on designer shorts, the saddle sores and the Holy Trinity of cycling gods (aka Fausto Coppi, Charlie Gaul, and Major Taylor) will be less angry, and this will make your rear feel better. It’s scientific.)

It’s also possible that your post-ride baby powder or Gold Bond has clogged a pore, or maybe you have a bit of sand in there from that special weekend you spent at the beech with your significant other dune riding on mountain bikes. You people….

For whatever reason, these tiny sores hurt the worst, they have the greatest PSI of any saddlesores. (Pain per Square Inch). You can try to pinch them like a pimple, if you don’t mind your husband/wife/co-worker walking in on you as you lay on the floor in a puddle of your own urine, crying like a baby. Hey, some people are into that kind of thing, so I won’t throw stones here.

There is no good solution to this kind of saddle sore, other than to ride through it – which sometimes abrades the thing right off, converting it into a Sirloin Steak abrasion or a huge abscess, both of which are less painful. I get these sores most often of all of them, which would ordinarily be bad news. However, I like pain, a lot. So I can just pinch away or keep riding, and between the tears, the thing sometimes pops, or a little blister bursts open, which I then treat with a mixture of alcohol, and anything I have handy, usually more alcohol only this time orally administered. I don’t recommend it for everybody. Sometimes hot compresses may work, but I wouldn’t count on it. You may just wind up with a super heated, tiny, angry pimple – kind of like the PeeWee Herman-on-Crack of pimples – along with some irritated skin.

Like a lot of other insane things I recommend, I caveat it thusly: my planned remedy is stupid and possibly criminally insane, do not attempt it unless you are sure you can pull it off successfully.

Painful Purple Pimple of Pustulence
Fourth is Painful Purple Pimple of Pustulence. These look like ordinary pimples, if they had spent six years on Human Growth Hormone and following an East German Olympic Training Program. They are super-durable blocked pores, and maybe micro-infections, with a big whitehead rising out of a lumpy red spot perhaps as large as a dime’s width across.

I wish I could get bike parts as tough as these saddle sores – I would market them and make a million bucks. Man, can you imagine a mountain bike tube as tough to pop open as one of these purple monsters? Like the common cold, they take 5 days to develop, inflict maximum misery for another 5 days, and then take 5 days to go away – unless they choose to file for permanent residence.

Sometimes they leave a little subcutaneous scar, a hardened dead spot or necrosis, that is like a BB under the skin, which never goes away. Oh joy. They appear to develop from blocked pores and ingrown hairs, and typically show up if you’ve done a lot of riding, and not a lot of hygiene,or if you miscalculate the treatment for a less serious saddlesore. Did you give the laundry to the 17 year old Cat II at the stage race after the TTT, go out for drinks and then expect him to actually wash your shorts while there was a perfectly good X-Box in the hotel room?

You can also get them if your minor pimple popping drives a small infection deep into the pore. Then you’re screwed.

The best treatment is pretty simple – either have a good friend (preferably a good friend who attended and maybe even graduated med school) lance them with a sterile needle or scalpel and drain them out (probably three times in three days), or do it yourself.  (I can’t tell you how good a friend it needs to be, to get them to lance saddle sores for you. we’re talking Three Musketeers / Gladiator Film level friendship.)

Some people would look at these as sort of the threshold for a doctor’s visit, but my thought is that until you either have a fever of >3 degrees over normal, or until the local postmaster stops by to give the pimple it’s own 4 digit zip extension, then it’s not really a big enough problem to merit professional medical attention. amateur hobbyists will do just fine up to that point.

Does this crater look familiar?Space Mountain Suppurator
Fifth  and finally, is the Space Mountain Suppurator. Some people call these “boils” but you can’t fool me. I’ve only had them a few times, and it was clear that my buttocks had signed on to be Civil War Reenactors, and to commemorate the Battle of the Crater on my nether regions – a huge explosion, followed by a huge hole, followed by massive casualties.

These menaces to mankind and civilization are recognizable because your riding partners start asking you if you have a racketball in your shorts, not in any of the places where you’d be okay with it looking like you had recreational equipment inside your Volers. You can also spot them because you can see shoes – it’s hard to stand up straight so you’ll be looking down at yours. They also appear to contain more white substance than Utah.

You really need to seek medical attention if you get one of these before the thing swallows you up, like The Blob. That, or you need to squeeze it until it blows up with an explosive pop. I’m not sure you have enough tolerance for pain to do that or enough strength to reach around your back to do it. So you’ll need a friend to help. Preferably somebody who isn’t that close of a friend, to whom you owe a substantial sum, best if the debt is quite delinquent. I have had a boil on my back treated this way, and the explosion is quite impressive, as is the great big weeping hole it leaves in place of the pustulence. That is the traditional, old school way of draining a boil. It really hurt – but not quite as bad as one I had enjoyed previously, that a military doc removed using a scalpel, without a local.

Ever had an infection scraped off the back side of your hip bone, sans anesthetic? I still sort of shiver, not the good kind of shiver, when I think about that one, never mind the whole “here, stuff the enormous hole in your back with a field dressing, rip it out daily, and then repack it” routine.  There’s no good solution for a boil, and take my word, you do not want to put pressure on them (like a 90 pound rucksack, your own 170 pound self, or even the exhaled breath of an infant butterfly on a gentle summer evening) for weeks afterwards.

Keep in mind, if you go search and destroy on the thing yourself, you face a substantial chance of pushing the infection out of the necrosis and into the surrounding flesh. That means if it is close to your spine (or if it’s a more general boil on your face or neck), you could frickin’ kill yourself. These things are bad news. To avoid them in the future – you may want to consider giving up your satan worship, cutting back on the donations to terrorist groups, and reducing your greenhouse gas emissions. I haven’t a clue why these develop, only that they seem to be some sort of karmic revenge, and they may in fact be unavoidable if you are fated to get one.

Perhaps the best remedy is to simply invite a dozen of your closest friends over the house to pray over the thing. It sounds silly, yet if you have a persistent boil on your butt, you won’t rule out the possibility that your butt is demonically possessed. You don’t believe me, then just try it. 

Prevention and Remedies
At long last, you’ve suffered through this insufferable list of disgusting horrors. The least I could do is offer you some Kenny Rogers-style “pardon me son, don’t do the things I’ve done” advice. Saddle sores are serious business if you’ve got one, and they can end your season; more than one pro has lost a full season or a career due to saddle sores. Little ones can grow into big ones if not properly nipped in the butt, as it were. So some tips about avoiding saddle sores are in order. 

  • For Your Butt – Prevention – always get out of wet shorts immediately after a ride. Always wash up as soon as possible, preferably with Betadine or Dial or other anti-bacterial soap. (Betadine has iodine and kills germs pretty fast, it’s great if you’re okay with having an orange butt, depending on what type of betadine you use. You may need to let the Dial sit on there for a couple minutes to get the anti-bacterial effect). After you dry off, wiping down with some 93% rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball might help, if you can handle the stinging sensation and you don’t have dry skin problems. Then put on some Gold Bond Powder – “Pack Yer Crack” as one of my stinky friends used to say.  Dry is usually best, but you might consider using some kind of anti-bacterial and moisturizing cream too, if your skin gets dried out with the scrubbing and if it is abraded a little. And as a last ditch measure, some chamois creams make pretty fair moisturizers.
  • For Your Butt – Treatment - Anti-bacterial cream is okay on the abrasions including mildly infected ones, but you probably don’t want to put anything on the big blisters, except perhaps some ‘drawing salve,’ which may pull the infection and pus out if it hasn’t hardened into a big ball of dried pus inside a big necrosis. (Don’t ask how I know all this stuff. it’s a series of horrifying stories that led up to all this knowledge of skin infections.) Pinching the sores if they are small and pustulent is a mixed bag. Sometimes it brings relief. Sometimes it causes a bigger infection. Tough call. You can lance with a sterile needle or scalpel if they are small, but you probably need to squeeze out the infection if it is bigger than a little speck, because there’s often a necrosis and a big ball of dried pus in the middle of it. For larger sores, you really need to go see a doc. Take it from a moron who has self-medicated – you don’t want to treat a boil or big huge pimple yourself. I once converted a boil on my chin into a generalized subcutenous face infection by self-treatment. It was a shockingly bad outcome, that ended with a doctor literally screaming at me for being such a deluded, stupid moron. The more things change. 
  • Your shorts - experiment with different kinds of chamois until you find the one that is kindest on your butt. Thicker doesn’t mean better,  thinner doesn’t necessarily mean harsher. Never wear the same shorts two days in a row. Wash the shorts after each time you use them. Find some kind of chamois cream or body glide that you agree with, then use it every time you ride. Make sure the shorts fit and don’t gather and pinch your skin. Really nice shorts – Castelli, Etxe Ondo, Assos – really are that much kinder to your bottom. Bibs also help because they keep the chamois well aligned and ‘unbunched’ on your butt. Is a $200 set of bibs precisely four times as good as a $50 pair of shorts? No. It’s merely twice as good. Which sounds like a ripoff until you’re 75 miles into a 125 mile day. The more you ride, the more likely you need to wear premium shorts, until you hit that point of nirvana where your entire ass is a giant callous, like a turtle’s shell, and you don’t need shorts or anything. At that point you’ve probably achieved total enlightenment, however, so you really shouldn’t be reading this since you already know what I’m about to say. 
  • Saddle - don’t skimp or overspend on a saddle. Try different saddles until you find one that seems to ‘disappear’ under your butt, and not just because of your butt’s enormous size. Fatter doesn’t mean easier on the butt, cutouts may be easy on the plumbing but harder on the sitbones, and thin + thinly padded doesn’t mean uncomfortable – the downright skinny and barely padded, slightly crowned FiZik Arione is more comfortable (and less likely to produce saddle sores) than my sofa. Your mileage may vary; some people find the best fit with a $20 bargain saddle, others try dozens and in the end drop $200 for the perfect perch. Want a good place to start?  Go to a Specialized store. They have a little pad (co-marketing with the “Body Geometry” line of products) that you sit on that measures the distance between your sit bones. You sit on it, and you leave an impression. Then they have an accurate idea about how wide your saddle needs to be for a typical fit. It isn’t a perfect fit; some people’s butts should fit a particular saddle, but they prefer the feel of a saddle that theoretically doesn’t fit at all. Still, the Specialized Boutique may be a good starting point if you are clueless, and your butt hurts. (Being clueless and having a sore butt is where a couple of my better stories actually end rather than start, but then again, I’m digressing, in a lot of ways).
  • Your Legs - the underlooked facet in saddle-sore-dom. Saddle sores usually start with abrasions. Abrasions usually come from sitting too hard on the saddle for too long while moving, and grinding along, bouncing your right then left buttock off the seat. A saddle sore is your butt’s method of asserting self defense – “Your honor, I killed him because he just wouldn’t quit beating on me, day after day, and then when that 75 mile road race rolled around, and he was supposed to go to Moab the next day.” To avoid butt abuse, you should have your bike properly fitted, so that you don’t have a lot of pelvis rocking (right left right left) as you ride. You should also shift position slightly every couple minutes while riding, including standing up now and again, readjusting your shorts, and getting some blood flow into your butt and feet. Moreover, you should build up leg strength so that your butt is not taking so much of the weight. Your weight is borne by a triangle of arms, legs, butt; and it’s not feasible to lean harder on your arms. It is feasible, however, to build up leg strength, and to spend more time actually pedaling, thus taking weight off your butt.

So there you have it – how to keep a boogie in your butt.

Next week – athlete’s foot proves existence of poor moral character. 


  1. Comment by Dopey | 03.21.2007 | 10:33 am

    I was doing good until the boil section… Damn! Good advice especially about saddles. Why can’t people understand?

    I would not trade my Arione for the world. Though I do take it fancy restaurants on occasion so it treats me nice.

  2. Comment by Jeff | 03.21.2007 | 10:54 am

    Al as a feature instead of a cameo…nice (although “nice” and its varients don’t quite seem appropriate) substitute job! Jeff

  3. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.21.2007 | 10:58 am


    I ran into fatty’s wife as we were both dropping kids off at pre-school and she showed me a picture of fatty’s hand right before it was sewn up.

    I can’t believe fatty used the litery device of UNDERSTATEMENT! He’s never used that before (he much perfers hyperbole) so it really threw me off.

    I’m telling you that cut ALMOST WENT ALL THE WAY THROUGH HIS HAND! I’m telling you if he’d had a snap installed he could have used that wound as a good sized coin purse.

  4. Comment by monkeywebb | 03.21.2007 | 10:59 am

    I’ve experienced nary a saddlesore- what am I doing wrong? I’ve avoided the entire alphabet of cycling related butt problems (Abcess to Zit) except for ‘M’ (My butt is kinda sore). I fear I’m missing out on an entire category of “you shoulda seen it/and then I almost died” stories, and those are among the primary reasons I continue to ride. Please let me know how I can become a more complete cyclist…

  5. Comment by bikemike | 03.21.2007 | 11:13 am

    holy crap!

    great article though.

  6. Comment by JET(not a nickname) | 03.21.2007 | 11:17 am

    As usual, good stuff Al. Thankfully working in a hospital has built up my stomach so that instead of being grossed out for most of it, I just chuckled through all of it.

  7. Comment by KT | 03.21.2007 | 11:36 am

    Ha! I read the whole thing, didn’t wince once. Except maybe a little when reading about the boils. And at the part about self-treatment of the boils.

    I work in an accounting office, and it’s tax season. Guess I don’t get grossed out by much anymore! :)

    Good job, Al, that was interesting. Really.

  8. Comment by regina | 03.21.2007 | 11:46 am

    I laughed, I cried, I laughed till I cried. FiZik does make great saddles.

  9. Comment by John | 03.21.2007 | 11:53 am

    Great article Al. I can only add that the sooner you get to the doctor with your boil, the sooner you’re taking antibiotics, and the sooner you can sit down again. It may still take a week or two, but it’s much better than toughing it out.

    Hmm, that’s two posts in a row I’ve advocated drug use. No need to read anything into that, folks.

  10. Comment by Boz | 03.21.2007 | 11:57 am

    You mean to say I have ride more than twice a year ? No wonder I never got out of CAT 5. Thanks, Al.
    I have had very few saddle sores in my days, but a major pain was one on my innner thigh, near the boys. Large, red, puss-filled and tough as a badger. Finally, I couldnt take it anymore, and squeazed with all my might. I literally exploded w/ the sound of a gunshot – well, not quite, but audible. The blood/puss spray against the bathroom wall was inpressive. Gil Grissom, would have loved it. He would have also thought the 2 inch helix of ingrow hair protruding from the exit hole was pretty cool also. Yanking the rest of that out brought a tear to my eye. Youch !!
    On a more somber note, my ex-wife brother-in-law died from a saddle sore – the horse type. Fester, popped, staff infection – Toes up, dirt nap.
    So be carefull out there.
    As Redd Foxx said, no matter what you do in life, ya gotta wash your @$$.

  11. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.21.2007 | 12:22 pm

    Boz, maybe that’s why the doctor was screaming at me about my facial boil and self medication.

    And that Redd Foxx line just brought a half shot of espresso right out of my nose. Well done, sir. Well done.

    I’m hoping Fatty un-edits or de-scrambles the top couple paragraphs. I did write a funny opening, but suspect it is lying somewhere on the cutting room floor, with most of Fatty’s thumb webbing.

  12. Comment by buzz kill | 03.21.2007 | 12:53 pm

    Great post! Very funny. I ride a Specialized Toupe TI130 saddle… a stupid name for the very best saddle I have ever ridden. It is minimal and flexible and virtually disappears — I highly reccommend it (it’s not cheap, but worth it).

  13. Comment by Mrs. Coach | 03.21.2007 | 2:12 pm

    Fatty- How could you have read Al’s post and not had time to write one of your own? Its like reading a supermarket novel (not that i’d know anything about that)

    Al- you must have killer eye sight and a really good magnifying (shudder) mirror to get that kind of detail off your butt. Not to mention good balance. Maybe once you get a little older and your eye sight goes you could just use a digital camera. Gotta love that digital zoom!

    BTW- that was pretty disgusting. You could knock me over with a feather if anyone has a friend good enough to help out as you suggested.

  14. Comment by LMouse | 03.21.2007 | 2:38 pm

    Wow…is that a Mullet I’m looking at there?

  15. Comment by TimK | 03.21.2007 | 3:08 pm

    Good counsel.

    Didn’t gross me out, I work at the morgue and my wife’s a 3rd medical student. We live for this stuff!

    I was reminded of my father-in-law’s tale of his experiment in biking some time ago. All the cool riders rode Brooks and broke them in the hard way. He decided that he would ride Brooks too, only he would be more clever and treat the leather saddle like a leather baseball mitt. So he oiled the hell out of it, wrapped it in an old towel and put it under the leg of a heavy bedroom dresser. It stayed, to my mother-in-law’s growing frustration, beneath the dresser leg for a few weeks to get broken in.

    Finally it was time for a test drive, and my father-in-law was quite impressed with the results. Until he got off the bike and had to endure the laughter of fellow riders as they noticed the huge oil that made him look as if he had crapped his pants.

  16. Comment by Jouni | 03.21.2007 | 3:25 pm

    “Wow…is that a Mullet I’m looking at there?”

    Yes. How do we apply the previously discussed pain scale to THAT?!

  17. Comment by Sean | 03.21.2007 | 3:47 pm

    My wife graduates med school in two months and I still wouldn’t dream of subjecting her to the issues of my taint, not that she wouldn’t be willing to help, but I don’t need her getting that visual when she’s thinking of me.

  18. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.21.2007 | 5:03 pm

    Yes, that is a Mullet. It belong(ed) to BIgMike. I had intended to use it as an example of the fiber sources used to produce old school wool bike shorts, but like I said, Fatty butchered the edit the way he butchered his hand. So instead it’s just out there randomly. Which when you consider the essential nature of mullets, might actually be the best way of doing it.

    Buzzkill, as I understand the whole “body geometry” thing, the “130″ in the name of the saddle signifies it’s built for somebody with more or less 130mm between the points of their sit bones, as measured by Specialized’ fancy little sittin’ an’ measurin’ pad. My Fulda Gap is a bit wider than that, but I actually like a skinnier saddle with a really long nose – turns out I’m a pedal masher and don’t really sit on the saddle so much as perch over the top of it anyhow, and tend to ride forward on the nose, hips closer to directly over the cranks. I also like to keep my saddle height surprisingly high for my inseam length. These things are related.

  19. Comment by msk | 03.21.2007 | 6:37 pm

    fortunately i have never been afflicted by any of these plagues thus far
    must be the regular back, crack and sack waxes i get
    seems the initial searing pain (an 8 i reckon) and regrowth itch is a small price to pay for myriad of skin infections i am avoiding

    while we were on an extended mtb trip in costa rica my bony and hairy assed buddy did get what was, in retrospect, the “sirloin steak sit bone scrapes”

    as i had to gingerly, yet tenderly, administer to his nether regions i would throughly recommend using “Dermoplast Hospital Strength Antibacterial Pain Relieving Spray”

    i must admit the “no touch application” is what sold me on it

  20. Comment by Jsun | 03.21.2007 | 8:50 pm

    Great write up Al, you should have a web site of your own, oh you do.

    You mentioned a buttache, is that any thing like the copier guy’s mustache?

    And when you apply the alcohol orally do you just spit it on your nethers or can you actually get your mouth down there?

  21. Comment by Weean | 03.22.2007 | 12:16 am

    There’s a lot of disturbing things in this guest post, but none quite so disturbing as that mullet (no offense, BigMike). It’s even more disturbing out of context, and I thank Al for setting the record straight on its inclusion.

    Although research recently published shows that drivers are less likely to run over people with long hair, because they think they’re girls (see maybe we should all be growing mullets.

    Let’s just pretend I didn’t just say that.

  22. Comment by Big Mike In Oz | 03.22.2007 | 2:53 am

    Before I start on my carefully planned comment I would like to advise that I started this response when there were only 16 comments, so please pretend that you don’t know it’s me in the picture. It’ll help with the irony in the next couple of paragraphs. You see I’m really a funny guy, just a slow typist (and I mean funny ha ha, not funny to look at… unless you look at that particular photo – thanks Al).


    Firstly what’s with the dork with the mullet?

    I couldn’t find any reference to a dork with a mullet in the whole damn article. Unless the dork with a mullet was the nearest picture you could find to a boil on your butt (in which case Google needs to tighten up its search algorithms a tad).

    Or unless the dork with a mullet was a metaphor to help illustrate the point on the timeline where leather chamois and wool knicks were the norm, in which case I must defend the dork with a mullet by saying my first pair of cycling knicks were lycra (although with a genuine leather chamois).

    And I must also further defend the dork with a mullet by saying that particular photograph is half of a pair that represent the before and after shots from the day I killed the mullet outright.

    Surely there exists case law that prevents that kind of perverted photograph from being displayed on the internet. What if Michael Bolton stumbles across this article and it sends him into a tail spin that finishes up with him in the foetal position sobbing for his mother or his stylist (and a toupe)? Or Billy Ray Cyrus for that matter.

    Apart from the outright exploitation of dorks with mullets I must whole-heartedly agree with the content of this article, including the bit about saddle choice. I am the proud owner of a 5 year old aluminium framed road bike with a 2005 Ultegra ensemble. When making my saddle choice I bought a $225 wafer of torture with titanium rails and a carbon fibre base covered in hand stitched kids leather (from the first born male child of Osama Bin Laden’s personal goat according to the brochure). My arse hurt just taking it (the seat, not the arse) out of the box. Several weeks later I was cruising eBay for junk and bargains and junky bargains when I happened upon a Selle Italia Turbo. Those of you born in the ’60s or earlier have my permission to start drooling right now, especially when I tell you it was NIB. eBay speak for New In Box. After I happened upon it, I pursued it agressively, and eventually became its proud owner for the meagre sum of only $48.75 including postage. That’s right ladies and gentlemen, my high-tech new road bike has a brand new seat that was used by Bernard Hinault when he won the world road title in 1980. It’s more comfortable than a hot cup of cocoa in a snow storm.

  23. Comment by Born 4 Lycra | 03.22.2007 | 3:39 am

    Gobsmacked – like others I am yet to be afflicted with any of these conditions. But if I am well I know what to do – I think.
    Did get run off the road this am by a D**khead entering a service station. Was about to remonstrate when I noticed a sticker on his rear window which read “I hate Spandex”. I just rode on – I must be getting old, more mature or just used to it.

  24. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.22.2007 | 3:57 am

    See Born4, if that occurred on my commute (which is largely in heavy traffic) I’d have chased the guy down, stopped him, maybe pulled him out of the car and beaten him even more senseless, taken off my jersey, pulled on a shoulder strap of my bib shorts, and calmly screamed at the top of my lungs, “it’s called lycra, you $#%*^*%$*ing ignorant moron!”

  25. Comment by Boz | 03.22.2007 | 4:58 am

    I have BG saddles on my bikes – they really do feel good on my 2 rides a year. When I finisdh the fixie, I’ll move up to 3 – imagine how my conditioning will improve! Just how much better my TC would feel if I could only find cut-offs w/ a chamois built in. Waaaaay cool.

  26. Comment by Al (female) | 03.22.2007 | 5:21 am

    Up until this year (out of college, have a “real” job) I couldn’t afford anything other than the saddles that came with my bikes…. so I’ve had plenty of sores although luckily nothing past a semi sirloin scrape.

    This summer I’ll be riding from Texas to Alaska so I very happily put down the extra money for a Brooks. My arse will be thanking through the Rockies but we’re not on speaking terms right now while I’m still breaking it in. Any pointers to speed up that process?

    Looks like I’ll definitely have to check out the fizik when I get back to racing in the fall.

  27. Comment by FliesOnly | 03.22.2007 | 5:43 am

    Great post Al. Saddle sores are, as of yet, not something I’ve really had to deal with. Sure, my butt has been sore after a ride or two…and maybe there’s been a small “raw” spot, but by and large, nothing that has needed to be popped or drained has appeared on my behind.

    However, I am currently thinking about getting a new saddle and I am somewhat concerned. Here’s why. I’m thinking about getting a completely new style. Right now, I’m riding on a four year old Aspide saddle. It has served me well, but I think it’s about had it. I have been looking at the Fizik Arione. Should I just stick with what I have, or should I go in a new direction? Part of me says: “Hey, stick with what has worked in the past”, while another part of me says: “Hey, try something new”. New can be nice, but not at the expense of a saddle sored butt.

  28. Comment by barry1021 | 03.22.2007 | 5:48 am

    I peed myself again reading this…
    Wait! Big Mike that’s you?? geez i thought it was a close up of Al’s butt, my bad. So who is that in the next picture, I am confused? Based on Fatty’s body hair pictures, I would say a close relative for sure….
    And speaking of my butt, I have been known to ride two hours on the trainer, then fall asleep on the couch in my wet clothes and wake up six hours later. It’s amazing what can grow down there. I’ll send pictures!!!


  29. Comment by BotchedExperiment | 03.22.2007 | 6:43 am

    JSUN, you produced a rapid, involuntary expiration. Nice one.

    To those of you under 33 years old and have never experienced any saddle sore problems: Just wait; “your time is gonna come.”–of course if you’re under 33 you probably have no idea what that line is from, but oh well.

    I never had a single saddle sore of any type until a couple years ago. Seems to be age-related. Anyhoo, all I’ve had to do is lube-up every ride (as Al suggested) and I never have any problems.

  30. Comment by Lurch | 03.22.2007 | 7:33 am

    Let’s see….in the past coupla weeks Fatty has gone on an extended business trip, been under pressure at work, tried to cut his thumb off and twice had “guest” bloggers take over the site.
    THIS IS GREAT NEWS! I’m thinking Fatty is getting lazy and will soon balloon back up to a “respectable” weight (a FAT cyclist at 160 – gimme a break!). That bodes well for all of us who want a free jersey and prefer the “jolly” FC over the “serious” FC.
    What’s next Fatty? Going to encourage your wife and kids to come along on your training rides? I can’t wait. This is going to be great when the “wheels fall off”.

  31. Comment by Lurch | 03.22.2007 | 7:51 am

    BTW, that little pad you sit on in the Specialized Store is called an “ass-o-meter” (at least in the store I work at) because it measures the size of ones…oh, never mind…

  32. Comment by Argentius | 03.22.2007 | 8:24 am

    Yes, I came here before reading the whole thing.

    And Fatty — you are SUPRISED that an Al Maviva entry is 4,000 words long?

    That man types like no one I have ever seen! His keyboard emits smoke! I am in awe…

  33. Comment by Brewinman | 03.22.2007 | 1:44 pm

    Gross doesn’t begin to describe this post. Then again, it doesn’t begin to describe Al either…

  34. Comment by dpcowboy | 03.22.2007 | 4:49 pm

    Thanks for the ‘post’. Great writing, as expected. Enjoyed with more than a bit of relish….!!!

  35. Comment by Lowrydr | 03.23.2007 | 5:43 am

    dpcowboy, you used relish with that? eewwwww! Now that’s gross.

  36. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.23.2007 | 7:10 am

    Thanks for this informative and educational piece. The people at will be wanting to make it into an e-book. It is much more down to earth than the advice they are peddling for saddle sores.

    One thing was missing though. Any written work that speaks of chamois cream, would seem to require a mention of “spalming” to be complete. At the least I would expect the declinations of the verb, so that I could properly describe application techniques in all situations.

    Again, thanks for the education. I have some sirloin steaks on my rear as a result of my accident Tuesday. It is comforting to be able to catagorize, rather than just complain that my @ss hurts. Is there a special subcatagory for trauma-induced sirloin steak sores?


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