Monthly Archives: June 2011

A Cheeky Dilemma

Several years ago, on my first century ride, my IronMan friend who rode with me asked me, about 3 hours in, if my butt was bothering me. I was so surprised she knew! Did  she have super-human abilities? Apparently, my constant shifting and squirming on the seat made it obvious that I was trying desperately to find some rear-end comfort.

If you’ve ever spent a lengthy period of time on a road bike, you might notice a gradual butt numbing phenomena, resulting in extraordinary soreness and possible chafing in your rear-end and thereabouts. Alas, the first blog post of my Higher Gear product testing is to provide some relief and to bring attention to the great elephant in the room, the unspeakable topic most cyclists experience and avoid discussing over coffee, post ride. My friends, it’s time to talk about Chamois cream.

Chamois cream is a lubricant that helps reduce chafing and soreness from friction caused by cycling shorts and your seat. There’s a lot of moisture and friction going on down there, and it can get uncomfortable. You can apply it to your affected body parts and to the chamois as well. The viscousness varies for each brand, so you need to watch out for oozing onto the seat if you apply too much. There are a variety of creams with cheeky names that help reduce chafing, rashes, and irritation. After all, if you’re going to sit on your bum for hours, you might as well take preventative measures, so you don’t lose it, whimpering and crying on the road.

I tried three brands: Enzo’s ButtonHole, Chamois Butt’r, and Assos. In case you’re thinking, this is some kind of scam to keep me from using Vaseline or Bag Balm, fear not! If you use petroleum jelly and it helps, stick with it. However, chamois creams are designed  to provide relief to chafing specific to cycling, and there are many delightful amusingly named products to try. I suggest trying several or asking for samples, using them on rides, and deciding what works best for you. It truly is a personal choice.

The Chamois Butt’r felt more like a lotion, was odorless, and absorbed quickly. I could see using Chamois Butt’r for chafing under running clothes and on my legs while running because it was not as dense as the other products. Assos was thick and a bit oily. It left some residue on the inside of my shorts that the others did not, but I preferred the consistency. Finally, while the name creeped me out, I liked Enzo’s ButtonHole best. It was thick and pasty, and I slathered it on.  Once into my ride, it didn’t feel greasy or slippery. It also smelled of menthol and felt cool, not sticky. Do I want to say it was almost minty fresh on my tush? Yes, I do.

All three products worked effectively. If you ride on a regular basis, and you ride hard, I highly recommend trying them out!


Gong Meditation – Like a Grateful Dead concert without the Dead

Would you consider 90 minutes of loud, clashing, gongs and metal bowls ringing in your ears a soothing meditative experience? My most recent attempt at seeking inner peace or more accurately tagging along for the ride involved those items plus scented oils, rain sticks, and a drum beat. If you think I attended a Grateful Dead concert, you’re surprisingly incorrect.

I had never heard of “Gong Meditation” when my friend casually suggested we try it out one evening. She seemed to think my accompanying her to the psychic, meditation class and hot yoga meant I was cruising on her path to enlightenment. For me, I was just tagging along for the ride. Anyway, she dragged me out on a cold, rainy Sunday to try a new class her yoga studio offered monthly. What can I say? I had no clue Gong Meditation would be relaxing, but it had its moments. It was a lot like attending the
space and drums portion of a Grateful Dead concert without the twirling or drugs.

A middle aged lady walked around barefoot wearing loose yoga pants and a tank top and instructed us to lay down on our mats. She placed small metal bowls around our bodies and a pillow under our knees. My friend, a guy and I were the only people in the class, and the guy didn’t last more than 30 minutes. Perhaps he reached his karmic max for the day. The lights were off and she instructed us to relax and allow ourselves to absorb the noise and not fight it. If loud noises scared us as children, then we should allow our inner child to accept it and heal. I never had an issue with noise. I only wished I popped a couple Advil beforehand.

We began with deep breathing as this was the only quiet portion of the show. I wished I brought earplugs if only to mute what was going to be something close to standing on train tracks for 90 min as a train screeched by. Deep low ominous sounds began to whirl as the reverberations never ended before another smack into a bowl or whack of the gong began. It reminded me of a space documentary I saw on Nova narrated by Alec Baldwin.

I lay still, eyes closed as crescendos of gong vibrations echoed in the room. I no longer heard others breathe and wondered if they too were wincing instead. I let my mind wander and imagined myself standing barefoot on train tracks as sound throbbed from my feet to then suddenly imagining flying over endless rows of church bells. No drugs, no twirling, no crowds, but this was a concert nonetheless. I would not let the gong lady cause me to wince because it was so freaking loud!

As she beat drums and tapped other random objects, her space sounds reminded me of 2001 Space Odyssey. I waited for Hal to call out from behind the gong in front of the room, “Dave, are you there?”

She placed a bowl on my torso and hit it with a small mallet. No changing positions after that. No yawning either! Good God, I thought. This was not relaxing! This is like trying to cook dinner while falling over my kids as they were banging on pots and pans when they were toddlers!

No way was I going to allow this chaotic mess grab MY chakras! No siree!
I would ground with the universe if it killed me. I was sure the only thing that required healing was the throb over my right eye.

Towards the end, she rubbed scented oils on my feet. Since I have running toes, that have yet to be polished, I was embarrassed. There I went again, losing my focus! The lilac oil on my hands smelled nice, but this experience was more Grateful Dead than Blossoming Lotus. Oh well. One day I’ll evolve and start taking my meditative workouts more seriously!