Thursday, February 2, 2012

Let's try and be adults about this...

Today, I'd like to talk about a subject, that while it's somewhat uncomfortable to speak about in mixed company, but it is something that every avid cyclist has dealt with at least once in their cycling career.  

Of course, I'm referring to chamois cream.  (I'll wait a second for the collective gasp to quiet down.)  OK, now that we've managed to recompose ourselves, we can continue.

Just in case there are non-cyclist reading this, (what are the chances), who have no idea what chamois cream is, allow me to explain.  (Brace yourself.)  A chamois is the the piece of padding that sits in the bottom of a pair of cycling shorts, designed to cushion the riders backside and "naughty bits", from hours of sitting on the saddle whilst riding their bikes.  Chamois cream is a commercial product sold to lubricate and soften this padding.

Yes, I choose to use the phrase "naughty bits", being aware that there is the possibility, however remote, that children might inadvertently stumble upon this site and read this.  Other phrases that I considered, but rejected, were "private parts", "pee-pee", "wedding tackle", and the vulgar "weiner".  There were others that I could have used, but that's a long dark road that we do not want to go down.  Trust me on this.

I don't think I would get a lot of argument from other cyclist that chamois cream benefits most riders who choose to wear it.  Chamois cream is one of those things that, beneficial as it might be, a lot of cyclist avoid just because they are uncomfortable with one, or more aspects of either purchasing it, applying it, and wearing it.  Not to mention, talking about it with other cyclist.  As a guy, I can only speak from the male point-of-view.  I invite you gals out there to offer the female take on this.  But I think the problem is actually 3-fold.

Purchasing chamois cream.  It might just be me, but walking into my local bike shop, grabbing a tube of chamois cream, and walking up to counter and paying for it, is akin to my wife asking me to go to the store and buy her some maxi-pads.  I don't even like going down that aisle at the grocery store.  

And the manufacturers are absolutely no help.  Let's sample some of the names of some of the chamois creams that you're likely to find; 

  • DZ Nuts (pronounced "deez nuts".  Hilarious.)
  • or DZ Nuts Bliss (specifically for women.  Insert your own joke here.)
  • Chamois Butt'r (somtimes marketed as "Butt Butt'r". Again, hilarious.)
  • Belgium Budder (apparently the Belgium's don't know the proper spelling of Butt'r.)
  • Udderly Smooth (really?  What has that got to do with biking and bike shorts?)
  • And my personal favorite, Hoo Ha Ride Glide.  Marketed with the catch phrase "for women, by women".  If I didn't already know what it was for, I would have guessed some sort of women's marital aid.
Applying the chamois cream.  I think this is the part where most people get off the chamois cream bandwagon.  Especially for us guys, the idea of taking a handful of grease and applying it to our behind, "naughty bits", and the nooks & crevices in those areas, presents real problems.  This might be easier for women, as you all are a little more comfortable with lotions and creams and what not.  But I think I can speak with some authority that most guys would rather be whacked across the shins with a 2x4, than to have to grease up the backsides.

Two quick stories to pass along regarding the application of chamois cream.  Both of these stories are absolutely true. Lets's all try and learn something from my misfortune.

Story #1 - While out of town and staying in a hotel overnight for a bike ride, as is my habit the night before the ride, I put everything that I am going to need the next morning out on the table in my room.  This would include my kit, shoes, snacks to carry on the bike the next day, and my chamois cream.  What I failed to notice was that the table that everything was sitting on was right in front of the air conditioner.  With it being Texas and 105 degrees outside, said AC was running at full blast.  As uncomfortable as putting on warm chamois cream might be, it pales in comparison to putting on ice cold chamois cream.  The term "shrinkage" aptly describes the result.    

Story #2 - In preparing for my afternoon bike ride one day at home, I stepped into my closet to apply a generous coating of chamois cream.  Unfortunately for all involved, I failed to close the closet door.  As I'm in the middle of the application, my 12 year-old son walks into the room and has an excellent view of me "greasing up".  As he stared at his father, naked except for the bike short around his knees, slightly bent over at the waist, with his rear-end covered in a shiny coating of cream, he got a look of absolute horror on his face, and blurted out/scream, "What are you doing?!?!".  My completely plausible explanation failed to make him feel any better.  I'm fairly certain that we'll both be telling that story to a therapist one day.  

Wearing the chamois cream.  If you've managed to get over the hurdles of purchasing and then applying the chamois cream, then the actual wearing of the cream usually doesn't present too many issues.  There are a couple of pitfalls to be aware of.

First, I don't like to apply the cream before I arrive at the bike ride.  Sitting on the cloth seats in my car with shorts full of chamois cream, tends to lead to stains on the seat that no amount of explanation will make seem plausible.  So inevitably, you wind up standing in the door of your car, with your hand awkwardly shoved down the back of your shorts, trying to carefully "apply the grease".  This inevitably leads to some very strange looks from the people in the cars around you.

Secondly, you have to be careful not to apply too much chamois cream.  If you get carried away, the cream has been known to seep through the bike short.  It basically looks like you "snowed" in your pants.  This too has been known to lead to some odd looks and uncomfortable pointing.

As the title of the column indicates, it is my hope that we can all be adults about this.  For those of you who know me well, your screams of "fat chance of that" are deafening.  Quite frankly, I giggled the whole time I was writing this.  But as a committed wear'er of chamois cream, (Belgium Budder is the current flavor of the month), I refuse to let my Jr High sense of humor deter me from an obviously beneficial product.  I encourage you to do the same.

Just please remember to lock the door.

Peace out....NFF.

1 comment:

Jennifer N. said...

Thank you for sharing your honest and humorous story. (Yes, your 12 year old will be telling that story to someone. Let's hope it's just a therapist.)

As someone who is new to riding (July '11) I recently asked my husband about these type of lubricants. He was quick to point out that he had no insight to offer me since he "doesn't have that problem".

It's my guess that you are correct about this topic being an uncomfortable one to discuss. I do appreciate your tips and insight. You can count me as someone who will step up to the counter and proudly buy some to use on my next bike tour. I'll bet it won't be too much longer before I will be able to convince my husband to give it a try as well.