TMI Alert! (Too Much Information) If you don’t want it, save yourself – run away now.
I rode 60km yesterday, which took me four hours of moving time… aka time in the saddle. I note this as an achievement because today I have happy hollows, which is a really big deal for me.
Hollows? You know… the dents in between where my legs attach to my bacons. BACONS?? Well… my pal, Nancy, said to me that cycling makes her bacons sore. I don’t know exactly what she meant… I didn’t ask for clarification, but I can guess, and you know that now that I’ve heard it, I will have to use it… incessantly.
I started riding a bicycle in a serious way about three and a half years ago, when I started training to do the Golden Triangle with Brent. I didn’t start having problems with my hollows immediately, but sometime in the summer of 2010, when I was commuting to work on the bicycle and riding recreationally outside of that, I started having hollow problems. I got a small red bump in one of my hollows, and the more I rode, the more that red bump hurt. As the summer progressed, I got another red bump on my other hollow. The cycle season eventually slowed down, and as I cycled less, my red bumps went away.
In early 2011, Brent and I went to Australia and did some cycling over there. The initial red bump reappeared. We came back to Canada and it took several weeks before I could start riding to work, and in the meantime the red bump subsided. As my commute routine became… well… routine that summer, the red bumps came back with a vengeance, making it quite painful to cycle at all. Finally I couldn’t ignore the problem anymore and I went to see my doctor about it. He was extremely helpful… shrugging and referring me to a dermatologist, who took weeks to get in to see. The dermatologist was equally helpful. He was a young fella, really not comfortable talking about the bumps in my hollows near my bacons, and really didn’t have any relevant thoughts on what they were, so he prescribed me some antibiotic cream for the bumps and sent me on my way. I used the antibiotic, and took to washing my hollows with rubbing alcohol every time I rode when I wasn’t going to take a shower immediately following. These things did nothing to help.
This year, I haven’t been able to commute a lot because of the afternoon rains, but for the first part of the summer we cycled a lot in training for our ride from Jasper to Banff, which we completed a few weekends ago. The red bumps came back. Of course. I knew that they would be a problem for the ride, but I was at a loss for what to do about them. We did the ride, and the original red bump site went absolutely nuts. We rode 40km, then 109km, then 93km and by the end of the third day, the red bump was the size of a marble… swollen and sore… and every time I pedaled the bike, it just about blew the top of my head off with pain. I hoped I’d be able to finish the ride on day 4, had a good shower at the Lake Louise hostel and tended to the red bump. I had Brent check out the red bump for me so he could advise as to whether I should ride with it or not. He decided that it may very well be a varicose vein or some kind of blood or lymph blockage, which could be quite dangerous and I should see my doctor about it pronto… and maybe not ride on day 4.
I am kind of stubborn (I know, that’s hard for some of you to believe… I mean those of you who don’t know me at all) and I really wanted to ride on day 4, so the next day I got up and got on the bicycle. I made it for 30 of the intended 60km for that day before I had to quit.
I was really reluctant to go back to the shrugging doctor and the shrinking dermatologist, in spite of Brent’s insistence. Finally it dawned on me that maybe I’m not the only person on the planet who has had to deal with this problem (ok, I can be stubborn AND slow) so I googled it. Well, I googled “Saddle Sores” because I didn’t get any results searching for “shrieking red bumps of torture on your hollows next to your bacons”.
Voila. A treasure trove of information because, hallelujah, I am NOT the only person on the planet who has ever had to deal with this problem. The consensus seemed to be that I had started with some folliculitis which then progressed to full-fledged boils. I had heard of boils before, but really only as a child when my grandmother was telling a story about someone she knew who had a hideous boil on their neck. I found lovely photos of folliculitis and boils and… uh… yep. That’s what I had all right. Thanks, google… you win over the shrugging doctor and the shrinking dermatologist.
I found lots of advice for solutions:
- Wear biking shorts without underwear. Lots of people (including Brent) had told me that before, but I had been stubbornly wearing underwear under my biking shorts because I have sensitive skin which reacts badly to the thread used in some biking shorts.
- Get a new saddle. I bought one from a mountain bike store which sells women’s saddles in two designs: one for racing posture and one for regular posture. The new saddle is longer and much narrower than my old saddle… and looks very uncomfortable, but surprise surprise, it’s not bad, and I get much less friction on my hollows from riding with it.
- Put moleskin on your area of irritation (ie. My hollows) to protect from friction while riding. I think the moleskin has been the thing that has helped the most.
Anyway, I had tried the new saddle for a couple of commutes, but yesterday was the first ride of a distance which would call for biking shorts or moleskin, so I tried them. I was able to enjoy the ride and the day without even a single little poke from the hollows.
Wish me luck. My hollows are happy today, and I’m hoping I will have happy hollows now forever. I hope I have the saddle sore problem solved (geez… I almost said licked there… couldn’t do it... that would just be gross).