He Died of a Saddle Sore

This, my epitaph, the stone mason chortling softly to himself as he works at the granite plinth. It seems fitting really, a testament to the hours I spent in the saddle, and the tragi-comedic style I tried to project. In a world in which most of us will be forgotten in two generations, it’s an odd thing to commit to stone, but I like the idea of random passers-by doing a double take, deep into the future.

In the local paper, an intern writes:

Arlington man, 50, succumbs to saddle sore at home with family, who mostly can’t understand what the big deal is, just glad dad has stopped complaining about it.

So much for, “They’ll be sorry when I’m dead.”

If I’m honest, I don’t know how this happened. I mean, sure. I sat on a saddle and got a sore, but why now? I have, in my life, sat on so many saddles, for so many hours, and never, NEVER been stricken by a fate such as this.

It began with what I assumed was a pimple, a small, localized discomfort, invisible like the dark side of the moon (pun intended). This theoretical zit neither grew nor went away for two weeks. That’s odd, but frankly, I had other things on my mind. I was riding every day, with an occasional, accidental rest day, my gravel bike, my hardtail, my full-suspension bike, all the bikes, all with different saddles, in summer, with all the sweat.

I am a pretty fastidious pants-changer. I don’t sit around in a sweaty chamois if I can at all help it. And I have a small pool that I submerge myself in right after a ride, if, for some reason, a shower is not convenient. This is all to say that I am not the unwashed beast you might imagine. And I butter my buns, excuse the expression. Really, I’m doing all the stuff.

For the month of July, TCI is brought to you, in part, by Project Fuerza.

The good news is that WebMD, the Mayo Clinic, and all the other self-diagnostic resources on the internet could find no way at all to turn this into (butt) cancer. Instead, you get ‘folliculitis’ or ‘common boil.’ Folliculitis is an infected hair follicle. Common boil is a sort of “zit gone wrong.” I paraphrase. Either way there is a painful lump of pus (sorry) beneath the surface of your skin. The words ‘festering,’ ‘sebaceous,’ and ‘angry’ are all associated. Any sympathy expressed by friends, or the aforementioned family, is delivered via smirk, with or without chuckle and bad pun.

Assuming the saddle sore is not red-streaked and hot, in which case urgent medical care is required, now what?

The further good news is that I have developed a ground-breaking technique for the treatment and dissolution of this variety of saddle sore. First, you find a comfortable place to sit. Then you lay a heating pad there, turned to high. You moisten a washcloth with the hottest water you can. You put the washcloth on the heating pad, and you sit for ten minutes. Repeat every other hour until it no longer hurts to sit.

Spoiler alert: I have not actually died. Try to hide your disappointment.


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