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Saddle Sore Bum Baum


Lance K. Pugh

There is nothing like a goal accomplished to separate the wheat from the chaff. I sat down a few weeks ago and outlined where I am going and how I am going to get there, lest I get lost going blindly down some alley or circle endlessly in a cul-de-sac.

My current physical goal is to ride in the upcoming Cycle Oregon this fall. The ride is usually 500 miles over the course of 6 days. I know that I can do it, but, here’s the challenge: be in such good cycling shape that I can finish handily, set up my tent, type an article and have enough spare energy to socialize before hitting the sleeping bag like runaway scarecrow bereft of hay stuffing, there to snore, honk and whistle through the night. By the second night it will be suggested that, for the sake of those who wish to sleep, I pitch camp well down the trail, within a stand of trees and, preferably, inside a hollow log with both ends stuffed with cotton.

Let us now address the most serious aspects of preparing for such a mental and physical cycling challenge:

1. Fashion: It clearly not enough to just show up and ride, one must arrive looking like a cycling ad and playing the pedaling part while exuding élan, diffidence and aplomb. If you can do this while wearing a sheen of lycra that reveals all the curves, muscles and gasp…paunchiness, stoutness and girth to the multitudes, then your in, for anyone who can carry off the equivalent of strutting about in a Speedo deserves the benefit of the doubt, as it is clear that if they are comfortable with themselves, we all should be.

2. Ultra light equipment: I easily weigh as much as a treasure chest full of doubloons, yet most of the tour insists on the lightest components, regardless of the cost. We discuss weighty matters in terms of grams shaved from our ride, spending considerable thought and energies pontificating on the merits of the technology used in the most expensive bicycles. The truth of the matter is that if I lost twenty pounds I could brag that, effectively, my road bike would essentially weigh nothing. Float this concept, if you can.

3. Horn: For most in-town riding and especially on bike paths, a simple thumb operated bell mounted securely of the handlebars has a nice ring to it. A squeaky horn in the shape of an animal (I have a shark) lends a light-hearted touch, though it can attract a random dog who suspects that you are trying to flee with one of his toys. I also have installed a compressed gas operated horn that sounds like a marine fog horn, which is especially useful in getting the attention of the SUV that just crossed two lanes to cut you off. One toot is a hoot, a long blast leaves the driver aghast…and you alive to tell the tale.

4. Handlebar computer: No serious rider sets to the road without the latest multi-purpose bicycle computer. My current one was sufficient for the Jurassic period, so I am now looking into a cutting edge wireless unit that provides the following: Current, average and maximum speed, heart monitor, auto start and stop, GPS, altimeter, pacing, temperature, stopwatch, PC computer interface and clock. I am searching for one that orders pizza for me while I am still 10 miles out, when my wheels begin take on that crust and cheese look while my front forks commence to morph into two pepperoncinis.

5. Mounting and dismounting: In this modern day of cleats it is essential that a rider learns how to “click” in and out of a pedal rapidly and without much mental effort. Cyclists new to these foot-locking systems often get overwhelmed when slowing to a stop and occasionally struggle and fall over before freeing a foot on which to balance. It is embarrassing to a rider, firmly attached to a $2,500 bike and wearing $400 worth of neon-like clothing, to brake to a stop, then slowly fall over in front of a sea of seasoned seat sitters. It is considered rude to acknowledge such a slow-motion tumble, though, at times, holding back a guffaw or a gut-wrenching chortle requires discipline and tremendous resolve.

These are but a few of the many topics that need to be addressed before embarking on a ride of stature and endurance. I would be remiss, bordering on criminal, not to give you one final suggestion that will make your long stay in the saddle a pleasure instead of a pain in the ….nether regions. Secure a small tin of Bag Baum and guard it with your life. Apply a jolly dollop of this lubricating salve, strategically, before blast-off and you will be guaranteed to slip through the day unscathed where your seat hits the saddle.

(Lance was last seen polishing his bike on his porch, next to 55 gallon drum of some substance with a logo of a contented cow. Catch Lance by churning your browser to: Lance@journalist.com. He’s a little slippery to corner, so fire those emails like the glitter of the sun of off spinning bicycle spokes).

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