Best Ride Ever / Worst Ride Ever

03.26.2007 | 6:00 am

A Note from Fatty: Saturday, I went on a nice long road ride with Kenny — you know, the fast guy. By itself, this is not strange. What is strange is that Kenny was riding with me instead of doing a race he had planned on.

That, my friends, is unprecedented.

Kenny told me the story of how he pre-rode the course. It’s an epic story, and not to be missed. So I bullied and begged him to write it up for my blog.

Enjoy, and be glad you weren’t there with him. I know I’m glad I wasn’t there.

Pre-Riding the Rim Ride Race
My best ride ever was my worst ride ever.

I love endurance mountain racing and I love Moab, so when I heard there was a new race starting in Moab this spring, I was very excited to go down and give it a shot. The race is called the Rim Ride. It’s unsupported, it’s free and it’s ride at your own risk. To me, this sounds really cool.

Most of the course I had done already. It seemed like the organizer had put every sick ride in Moab into one giant loop. A general description would be; start at Lions park, head north up the old highway bike path, hook up with bar M trail, then the Sovereign trail, cross over highway 191 to the Monitor Marimac and 7 mile trail, continue up the dead horse point road to the upper Gemini bridges trail, down to hidden canyon metal masher trail, back to Gemini bridges road loop around to the back side of the gold bar rim trail, then follow the golden spike trail to the portal, descend on the poison spider trail to the potash road and back to Lions park. It’s about 90 miles. I figured that I could complete it in about 8 or 9 hours.

Big Mistake.

I thought that I could do the ride with a camel back and two water bottles.

Another Big Mistake.

I’ve been riding a 34-18 on the single and I couldn’t recall a lot of climbing on this course. That gear should be fine.

Strike Three Big Mistake.

I asked a few buddies to come preride this course with me. When no one could, I was actually somewhat excited to tackle this adventure by myself. I took the back seats out of my FJ, threw in my blow-up mattress, a few camping supplies and headed out for Moab late Friday night for Kenny’s Big Adventure.

Earlier in the week I had a cracked tooth prepped for a crown and it was causing me some pain. I didn’t sleep all that well, so when my alarm went off at 6:00 to start the ride, I decided to give myself a little more sleep. After all, the ride should only take me 8 or 9 hours. I got up around 8, made myself some French pressed coffee and some instant oatmeal. I was on the bike by about 8:30 with my map, trail description, ipod, a sandwich in my camel back and a whole bunch of gels.

First Blood
I felt really good for the majority of this ride. At the beginning, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the trail was marked pretty well with blue tape at all the major intersections. I could occasionally feel my tooth throbbing with the beat of my heart, but it wasn’t painful. It was nice to have my mind off it. I wedged my front wheel into a technical drop and found myself flying over the handlebars and down the side hill into some nasty rocks.

I picked myself up pretty fast and gave myself a once over. I had a big gash on my knee, but it was only superficial. My hands were scratched up and a little bruised. I put some gloves on, thinking that I should have been wearing gloves in the first place. I made sure that my bike was fine and that I still had both water bottles and my bike computer intact. I remember thinking, “I can still take a pretty good fall for an old dude with osteoporosis.”

I started making pretty good progress. I passed some groups of riders that were stopped at some big climbs taking turns doing moves. Hey, I can do moves, but not today. Today is not for playing on moves. I waved politely and kept riding.

I had done the sovereign trail years ago, but I must not have done all of it. It was much bigger than I remember. By the time I crossed the 191 highway to the Monitor Marimac road, three hours had passed. Mmm, that was only 21 miles in three hours. Wow, I was only averaging about 7 miles an hour. This ride might take me a little longer than I thought. I’ll just pick it up a bit.

The road was good and I made up some time, but once I hit the 7 mile trail, it was really climby, technical and sandy. Rolling past the two giant rock formations named after the famous battleships was surreal. That’s about when my ipod quit, four hours is about all I can expect.

I descended down a large slick rock section called wipe out hill and found I was hiking more than riding the next 3 miles to the Canyonlands highway. By the time I got to the Gemini Bridges road, I was still feeling pretty good. I was having a lot of fun. I had done half the ride in about 5 ½ hours, but I’d used up about all of my water.

I stopped at the first camp site that I saw to bum some water. Not expecting any company the skinny old man from Washington in nothing but his red tighty briefs, seemed startled to see me. He was happy to give me water and commented that they don’t have any sand where he comes from. I only filled my camel back thanked him and took off. I was starting to think that I was going to cut it close to dark if I didn’t hurry.

Ominous Foreshadowing
The next couple of hours were splendid. The temperature was perfect. The trail was perfect. My bike was perfect. The views were more than perfect. As I was getting close to the Gold bar rim trail, I began to calculate the day light with miles left to ride. The sun was getting pretty low. My shadow seemed to be growing longer by the minute.

I was excited to be riding Gold bar. It was the most familiar trail I’d been on all day. I stopped and filled a water bottle from a guy who was setting up camp, by the big 4 ft drop. He asked if I had a pump. He needed some air in his tire. “You can’t do without water.” He said.

“Or air,” I said, as I started the first big climb of the evening.

I had done this trail at least ten times, but I never remember struggling up that first pitch. I had to get off the bike and hike a good part of it. That’s when it dawned on me. Man, I’m cooked. This would have been the perfect opportunity to bail on the ride.

I kept going. I was determined to finish the ride.

The Wall
I ate a gel, drank some water and got back on the bike. Hitting the wall is a great way to explain how I felt. One minute I was great. The next I had nothing left in the tank.

I was OK as long as the trail stayed level. As soon as it started to climb I would feel nauseated. I knew that I had to keep rolling or I would never get out before dark. By the time I reached the rim the sun was setting. It was so beautiful, but also nerve racking at the same time.

At this point I knew that I didn’t have enough time to drop down the Poison Spider Mesa trail. I had a new plan. The Portal Trail was a 3 mile descent down from the mesa to the Potash road.

The problem with this plan was people die on the portal trail. The trail is very exposed and dangerous. I had been down it many times, so at the very least I was familiar with the parts of the trail where people have died.

The problem I was having was I could hardly see the painted dots on the slick rock to follow the single track. If I lost those dots, I was for sure going to be stuck on top of the mesa overnight.

My predicament was becoming worse by the minute. At one point I lost the dots entirely. I put my bike down and ran in a circle with my head low to the ground. It took me a couple of precious minutes to find the trail and be back on my way. Finally things were beginning to look familiar. I had made it to the top of the portal trail.

I could look down off the mesa and see the lights of Moab. I could pinpoint almost exactly where my car was parked. It seemed so close. In daylight I could be there in about a half an hour.

In the state I was in, I was unsure that I would even make it to the car before morning.

At the top of the portal trail I took out my phone and checked if I had a signal and took note of the time. I had a signal and it was 8:30. I had now been on the bike for 12 hours straight. I considered calling my wife and letting her know of my situation, but I didn’t want to worry her. I figured that I had a signal and it was comforting to know that if things became worse that I would be able to contact someone.

The first part of the portal trail is a gradual descent with 500 ft cliffs off the left side. I could see surprisingly well at the beginning. I suppose that it was from the reflecting lights from the city of Moab. I rode up until I got to the signs that indicate how many people have died on this trail. I could only make out the square shapes of the signs as I clumsily hiked past, but I knew what the signs say: “Dismount your bike! 4 people have died on this section of trail.”

I would hike the rest of the way.

As I got further down the trail it became darker. I could no longer see anything more than a couple of feet in front of me. Every so often, I had to open my phone and use the LED screen to try and find the trail again.

I fell about 6 times, either tripping or slipping on the sand stone with my bike shoe cleats. One time, I stepped forward, the rock gave away and I tumbled face first down a four foot drop with my bike falling on top of me. I wasn’t hurt, but I just laid there for a couple minutes, not knowing whether to laugh or cry.

I wanted to call someone and tell them to come get me, but I kept thinking of people watching the 5 o’clock news and hearing about the ill prepared idiot mountain biker who rode all day by himself, and had to be hauled out by the search and rescue.

I was not going to be that guy.

Well, actually I was that guy, but I got myself into this situation and I was going to do everything I could to get myself out.

My plan was working. I was making progress down the trail. I could see the lights of cars down on the potash road and they were getting closer. I figure it took me about an hour and a half to hike the three mile portal trail in the dark.

I had made it to the road, but I was still about 5 miles from my car. I was totally exhausted, completely dehydrated and starting to get the shakes. My plan was to thumb a ride, but there were no cars.

I spent 5 minutes getting on my arm warmers and another jersey and started pedaling. I just tried to keep my wheel on the white line. Those last miles, though very hard, seemed to roll by fairly fast. As I was crossing the Colorado River and approaching the Lions Park, where my car was, my phone rang. I knew it was my wife, but all I wanted to do was get to the car.

Finally, I was there. I drank as much as I could without feeling sick, crawled onto my air bed, called my wife and tried to explain myself. I laid there, shaking, for about an hour: half asleep, half awake.

Then I drove to a nearby spring, took a bath, drove back to the park and slept like a baby until 10 the next morning.



03.22.2007 | 10:10 am

Years and years ago, Stuart and I were riding North up Provo Canyon. Now, one thing you know for sure is that Provo Canyon will always be windy. In the morning, the wind blows South. In the afternoon, it blows North.

One way or another, you’re going to ride into a headwind.

Anyway, Stuart said, “Let us give thanks for the wind, for it makes us strong.”

I resolved to remember that phrase and use it myself the next time I was riding with someone in a killer headwind and wanted to sound wise and philosophical and stuff.

Yesterday after work, I was so happy to meet up with Rick Sunderlage (not his real name) for a road ride. I had just given my big end-of-quarter presentation. It was intense but had gone reasonably well, and I have never felt so much like I deserved a nice couple of hours on the bike with a friend.

The only problem was, it was cold. And windy.

Really, really windy.

That’s OK, though, I thought as we started. The wind’s at our backs and it’s not too strong.

Have you ever noticed how the wind at your back never feels very strong?

Oh, also I should mention that we started the ride from the top of Suncrest, which means we started downhill with the wind at our backs.

Guess what that meant for the return trip?

As we started climbing, the wind — now a headwind — picked up and became fierce. The South side of Suncrest — normally the easy side — was brutally difficult. Rick and I agreed it had never been this hard of a climb before.

I was just getting ready to say, “let us be thankful for the wind, for it makes us strong” utterance when Rick said, “You know what, though? I love varying conditions like this. I love having it be all nice one minute and then crazy-windy the next. It mixes things up. Keeps it fresh.”

And so I decided — since Rick had chosen to reveal his innermost thoughts the way he had — to be completely honest about what I was thinking:

“Wind sucks.”

PS: Today’s weight: 160.6

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. 

Pain Level: Five

03.18.2007 | 10:13 pm

I have many endearing qualities, and one of them is that I get very excited about things most people wouldn’t get excited at all about. Last Friday, for example, I was excited because I had bought a new twelve-foot-long cable for my Python cable lock — just the ticket for locking a couple of bikes to a hitch rack.

But before I could use it, I would need to cut the zipties that kept the cable bound into a tight coil.

Luckily for me, I am never without my Leatherman Micra — I figured that the fold-out scissors would do the job nicely.

“Wow. That is one tough ziptie,” I said to myself as I held onto the coiled cable with my left hand and applied increasing pressure to the scissors blade with my right hand. “The stupid…thing…just…won’t…cut!”

And then, as I put my weight into it, the ziptie cut. Hooray!

After which, suddenly deprived of the resistance from the ziptie, my scissors zoomed forward, the blade coming to rest once it was effectively buried in the flesh of my hand between my forefinger and thumb.

There was a lot of blood.

The One Thing I Remember from Boy Scouts
Here’s a surprising fact you probably don’t know about me: I am an Eagle Scout. Here’s another fact you probably won’t find surprising: I remember hardly anything at all from my two years as a scout (I got my eagle as quickly as was allowed by the program, so my mom would stop pestering me about it).

As blood gushed everywhere, though, I did remember: apply pressure.

And — whaddaya know — it worked. I brought the bleeding under control. The only problem is, this meant that both my hands were now fully occupied — one hand with being a bloody gushing mess, and the other hand with being a makeshift cork.

I was outside (I have a bloody sidewalk that shows exactly where) when this happened, so now had the problem of getting inside to get my wife to drive me to the hospital — I was absolutely certain I’d need stitches for this.

It’s not easy to knock on the door when your hands are occupied as mine were. But if you’re willing — as a 40-year-old man and mortgage owner — to kick your own door, it is totally possible to convey some urgency to your door knocking.

Friday Night Date
My wife, sadly enough, has seen me bloodied up quite a few times. The good thing about this is that she’s now got enough experience with my clumsiness-induced injuries that she effectively (and resignedly) just gets to work.

First things first: she ran across the street to see if our neighbor the EMT was home.


So she then went next door to see if our other neighbor the fireman / paramedic was home.


While she was checking to see if there was anyone who could lend a hand (no, not literally), I lifted my right hand in order to sneak a peek at the damage on my left hand.

Renewed gushing of blood, and the startling realization that I have never seen the inside of me so clearly before.

You know, I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this, but: the sight of my blood makes me very queasy. Which is to say, I nearly passed out.

As my wife drove me to the emergency room, I apologized over and over. “Sorry about this,” I said, still lightheaded about being able to see so much of my blood all over the place, but also recognizing that this was the first day I’d been home in two weeks, and the dinner and movie my wife had planned for the evening had turned into no dinner and a trip to the hospital.

Because I — a 40-year-old man — evidently do not know how to properly handle a pair of scissors.

An Interesting Question
There’s something satisfying — in a twisted sort of way — about being a bloody mess when you walk into a hospital emergency room. You’ve got yourself a real emergency here. You’re applying pressure. You’re making a mess on the floor. You feel like it’s your right to blow right by the people who look like they came here because they were feeling slightly disconsolate.

“What seems to be the problem?” asked the person who’s job it must be to not pick up on obvious clues.

“I’ve been cut long and deep. My left hand. I’m bleeding a lot.”

So I’m escorted to what is labeled (oddly, I notice the label) the “Triage Room.” A nurse (or maybe just a helpful bystander — I never made sure) then applied a gauze bandage and wrapped it up tightly. While she did this, she asked me an interesting question:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you say your pain level is?”

Hm. Well, that’s a poser of a question. I thought about it, and then said, “five, I guess.”

After which I immediately regretted not saying, “Eleven! Fourteen! Give me morphine!” because she said, “OK, go sit down.”

And there I sat, for 45 minutes or so, while a number of people who came in after I did — sporting what looked like nothing more painful than a modest case of ennui — got ushered in to see doctors ahead of me.

I’ll Stick With 5
During this 45 minutes, I had plenty of time to contemplate how embarassing it is to have the most serious cut of your life be from a self-inflicted scissors cut at the age of 40.

Eventually, though, they rummaged up a doctor for me. Before he unwrapped the (now quite bloody) bandage, he asked me the same question: from one to ten, how bad does it hurt?

I stuck with five.

He then unwrapped the bandage, and said, “Well. This looks like more than what I’d usually expect from a five.”

He then spent several minutes cleaning me out, sending the nurse to go get a tetanus shot (my shoulder still hurts, thanks), talking with me about mountain biking on the White Rim, testing my fingers to see if I could feel anything, testing my thumb to see if I could move it, expressing surprise that I could because it looked like I had gone deep enough to sever some working parts, and then sewing me up.

By the time I left, I was thinking it’d be fun to ride with this doctor.

Why 5?
On the way home, my wife asked me why I had said this ugly cut only hurt at level five. The answer is easy: I’ve got a pretty good basis of comparison. To wit:

  • Level 7: While riding the Brian Head Epic 100 one year, I crashed at mile 70, bruising my hip, separating my shoulder, and breaking off my saddle. I rode the next 25 miles of uphill without a saddle, during which time both my calves cramped up solid and my knee started bothering me.
  • Level 8: While riding the Leadville 100 one year, I crashed on a downhill section, completely dislocating my shoulder (I resocketed it on my own), getting a nice road rash, and then finished the race while dry heaving, completely exhausted and pretty dehydrated.
  • Level 9: At 0.1 miles per hour on a technical move on Porcupine Rim, I fell on my side once, catching all my weight on my right arm. This tore my rotator cuff and started my ever-growing SLAP lesion. This is what caused the “Elden Scream” my friends still talk about to this day.
  • Level 10: I watched my wife go through six months of chemo. That stuff sucks. Not as bad as what happens if you don’t do it, but still.

So on Saturday — the nicest day of the year so far, after I’ve been off the bike for two weeks, even — I didn’t go on a ride. Couldn’t put weight on the hand, and for sure couldn’t use the brakes. You know, that’s probably level 6 pain right there.

The Question
So, was level 5 just about right? Or should I have gone higher? Lower? What’s your personal yardstick of pain?

Oh, and here’s my hand, 48 hours later. Looking much better, I’d say, though still very puffy.

PS: Today’s weight: 163.6, still.

Wherein I announce Winners and Leave a Mysterious Hint About Monday’s Post

03.17.2007 | 9:42 am

A Weekend Note From Fatty: I normally don’t post on weekends, but I have two contests I wanted to announce winners for, and something interesting happened yesterday that I need to write about, haven’t yet written about, but still want to mention, albeit in a confusing and non-helpful way.

You Were Really Nice in the “It’s Nice to be Nice to Dave Nice” Raffle
A big fat hug goes out to everyone who helped Dave Nice by entering the raffle. I was hoping we could raise around $500 for him, and imagined $1000 was the most we’d have any chance at all of raising. But thanks to the very generous nature of cyclists, we raised $1210.00 for Dave (and that’s after Paypal took its chunk out).

You guys rock.

I’ve notified the winners by email. They’ll be getting the awesome prizes donated by the Ads-for-Scwhag advertisers, who have shown — once again — that it’s the small companies that really care about their customers. You can, of course, find those advertisers in my blog sidebar. Give them the love they deserve.

You Guys Think I have No Self Control Whatsoever
In the “Guess my weight after I’ve been on the road for 2 weeks contest,” most of you figured that I would completely self-destruct, self-control-wise. A few of you, however, dared to believe that I’d only gain a pound per week or so.

As it turns out, while I didn’t lose weight on the trip, I also didn’t gain a whole bunch. Yesterday I weighed in at 163.6 pounds, up from 162 pounds when I took off for NY two weeks ago. So the winners of the prize I cannot yet reveal (because I’m still working on getting it made) — each of whom was off by a pound or less — are:

  • Iceman (163)
  • turnonthejets (164.6)
  • jill (164.5)

Winners, be sure to contact me when I announce this new Fat Cyclist product — probably sometime within the next couple weeks.

Pain, Blade, Blood
And now for my confusing and non-helpful hint about what I’ll be posting this monday. It will be about pain, a blade, a great deal of blood, and a trip to the hospital.

Oh, and it will be about riding bikes, too.

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