Junk shop

My wife went into the Bike Palace today, where she was met by a very nice salesman. “May I help you, ma’am?” he said in that polite way of nice young fellows addressing a grandmother.

“Why, yes,” she said. “I’m looking for some butt cream.”

The polite young man nodded understandingly, as if every grandmother in San Pedro came in daily looking for this product. “I see,” he said. “You mean …” he trailed off.

“The stuff for your butt,” she said. “So it’s not onna raw meat.”

“Ah,” he smiled, relieved, greatly. “You mean chamois cream?”

“That’s it!” she said.

Rustproofing your undercarriage

I’m sure it’s been around for a while, but I didn’t really know there was such a thing as chamois cream until a buddy had a tube of DZ Nuts lying on the counter.

“Whazzat?” I asked.

“Chamois cream.”

“What’s it for?”

“Your shorts.”

“What does it do?”

He looked at me like he was talking to a simpleton. “It keeps your ass from getting raw.”

“You’re joking, right?”

It was a who’s-the-idiot standoff. I think he won.

Back in the days of barnacles

Fact is, I’ve never used chamois cream. Never needed it. Sure, there have been times when my junk has looked like the meat counter at Whole Foods, but when we started riding back in the day that was called “toughening up.”

In the beginning you’d barely be able to walk. Sitting on the bike was like sitting on an oiled and scalding frying pan. Chamois were rough and sometimes you’d wear the same one a couple days in a row. They were made of leather and had a tendency to easily rip open sores and tender spots. You softened them up with sweat and blood and excretions.

In especially bad cases of “toughening up” you’d get gigantic saddle sores, the size of a nickel or bigger, huge bleeding things that were uglier and more disgusting than a cat’s butthole. Once the cysts burst and the poison drained, the whole nasty mess would scab over, you’d ride a few hundred more miles, the scabs would fall off like chunks of tire from an 18-wheeler, and voila, you’d have a nice thick patch of skin as leathery and tough as a mother-in-law.

This was of course the best motivation on earth to keep riding: terror of losing that giant undercarriage callus and having to go through ye olde “toughening up” again.

More to the point, no one would have ever used chamois cream because there was something weak and cheating about it. “You mean you didn’t get sepsis and have festering, open wounds for six months? You call yourself a bike racer?”

The Decision 2018

I stared at that jar of chamois cream on the table. All natural ingredients. Guaranteed to keep things smooth and supple. Antiseptic, organically sourced, extends chamois life and presumably the life of your undercarriage as well.

It was practically calling my name. “Tryyyyy me!”

I looked at it again and reflected on what the last couple of hours of my 240-mile day had felt like a couple of weeks ago. “Shouldn’t I try it?” I wondered.




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7 thoughts on “Junk shop”

  1. Another good one. I remember those old leather inserts. Everything you say about them is what I remember as well. I rode two pair of those in wool blend shorts for a 90 day jaunt up the Cali coast, and then across the US in 1981. I think we washed them 3 times, though technically one could argue at least one pair got wet every day.

    The only thing I ever used between my legs was some kind of anti-septic cortisone direct apply to the sore squirt from a tube off the shelf anti-biotic chemical cream that relieved my mind more than anything else.

  2. Senior Wanky, you started riding about the same time I did. Didn’t the other riders use Noxzema. I still remember being at the back of the group at the start of a ride. The smell of Noxzema was everywhere.


    I do recall the subject came up when I was speaking with a woman rider within the last few years. When I told her what I use, she said “Hell No”. Perhaps her language was a little stronger.

    Apparently women are built differently.

  3. With Seth’s stunning chamois cream revelation, Cycling in the South Bay subscriptions plummet.

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