Soothing the sores

One of the more memorable remarks during our transcontinental bicycle journey last fall was made by Cathy Blondeau, a rider from Victoria, British Columbia. It went something like this: “I’ve learned that on a cross-country bike trip you can apply Chamois Butt’r at a busy intersection, in broad daylight, with absolutely no shame.”
For those not familiar with the product, Chamois Butt’r is a cream that prevents saddle sores, resulting from the rubbing and chafing caused by sitting astride a bicycle for hours on end.
A similar product is more colorfully named Boudreaux’s Butt Paste, marketed to heal infants’ diaper rash but widely used by cyclists for saddle sores.
On Sunday, The Associated Press carried a story about another lubricant that I had never heard of — perhaps because I’ve never lived on a dairy farm.
It’s called Bag Balm, made in Lyndonville, Vt., since 1899, and originally intended to soothe the irritated udders of milk cows.
Today, the yellow-green ointment seems to have a variety of uses far removed from cows, ranging from silencing squeaky bed springs to preventing corrosion on military weapons. It was even used, the AP reported, to soothe “the paws of cadaver-sniffing dogs searching the World Trade Center rubble.”

Barbara Norris Allen poses with Bag Balm products in Lyndonville, Vt. (AP Photo by Toby Talbot)

So I guess it wasn’t a giant leap for cyclists to figure that it might work well on saddle sores.
“Long-distance bicyclist Andy Claflin says he started using Bag Balm on a cross-country race last June, when a teammate turned him on to it for saddle sores,” the AP story said.
“Claflin, 37, from Dayton, Minn., was suffering from saddle sores as he competed in the Race Across America. A teammate told him it was good for the sores, a bane of long-distance biking. So he slathered some on, down below.”
The AP quoted this testimonial from Claflin: “I was sitting there in Arizona, it’s 110 degrees, the air conditioning wasn’t working, the crapper in the RV wasn’t working, I gotta’ bike 100 miles in this heat and great, I’ve got to deal with this. It was nasty and filthy and it felt weird … But I didn’t have saddle sores from then on, riding 130 miles a day. When you’re on the bike, you’re like ‘Oh, this stuff is great.'”
I was fortunate not to suffer from saddle sores on our cross-country trek from San Diego to St. Augustine, Fla. My rear end was occasionally tender from long days on the bike, but I never developed saddle sores. I attribute that to my saddle: a British-made leather Brooks B17, favored by many long-distance cyclists. After it’s broken in, it molds itself to your posterior like a comfortable old boot.
So, I’m glad to say, I can’t vouch for any of the above-mentioned ointments.



Filed under Americana, Cycling across America, Journeys

8 responses to “Soothing the sores

  1. John

    “A little dab’ll do ya!” Not Brylcreem, but Chamois Butt’r. Based on my expeirience, it works, especially when it is really hot and dry, and especially when you are starting out on a long trip like our cross-county ride. Saddle sores were not the issue for me, just chafing soreness. I used it daily until we hit Austin and by then either my saddle (not a legendary Brooks) or my posterior were well enough broken in that I did not use it on the rest of the trip.

    • John,
      I recall a conversation during our ride about the old Burma Shave signs along Route 66 and the Bryl-cream jingle. I spent several hours during one day’s ride trying to reconstruct that jingle in my mind. Here it is, with some help from the Internet:
      Bryl-creem, a little dab’ll do ya,
      Bryl-creem, you’ll look so debonair.
      Bryl-creem, the gals will all pursue ya,
      They’ll love to RUN their fingers through your hair.

      Take care and keep in touch, and thanks for looking at the blog.

  2. j a tackett

    burma shave signs are all over western montana
    say you do what you have to do….and where you have to do…….
    i understand completely….been there ….done that…
    and bought the tee shirt with a smile…..

  3. I can’t imagine sitting on a garden spade for 3,000 miles.

  4. Kami Kitchen

    Hi Jim!

    Yet another great post! And, you know you are friends when you start swapping the ointments.

    Here are a couple more potions for you to check out should the Brooks fail you and may it never.

    Cathy and I giggled and were tempted to purchase this brand when we were in a cycle shop in Beaumont, Texas but since we already had stockpile of gender-neutral lube we changed our minds. But, it is on the list for the next ride. I can almost hear Al Pacino saying, “hoo ha!” from Scent of a Woman.

    Hoo-Ha Ride Glide:

    And, in my search for the above-mentioned product I “stumbled upon” this gem which may be of interest to…metro’s.

    DZnuts Cream:

  5. Pingback: To protect the junk and the hoo ha « Jim’s Bike Blog

  6. Pingback: Like a comfortable old boot « Jim’s Bike Blog

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