Robot’s Useless Reviews – Saddle Sores

You know, out of the gate, I’m not going to be giving saddles sores a positive review, at least not for their primary function, which is to ruin your life. There are charming secondary functions as well, like getting you to question your life choices. Why don’t these shorts fit better? Or, why do I even ride bikes?

Saddle sores exist on a spectrum, from minor irritation to full blown medical problem. The circumstances by which the latter stage is reached may be tragic. You are stranded in a remote location. It’s raining. You somehow failed to prepare with an appropriate application of personal lubricant to your sensitive bits. You have no choice but to shift around on the saddle, looking for the one position in which you can make forward progress without exacerbating the rapid deterioration of your undercarriage.

The better case is that you develop a minor irritation, a distant early warning, and have the ability to truncate your riding activities before things get out of hand. And this is where I’m particularly interested in talking about saddle sores today, because they are a pearling metaphor for the things that put our lives off track, small things that spoil the whole day.

Your romantic partner makes an offhand comment about something you said last week. You stub your toe on the corner of the couch. Someone cuts you off in traffic. None of these things is catastrophic, but our minds worry away at them, like a dry chamois against a tender body part, until they become much bigger and more fraught than they really ought.

Anytime I’ve experienced an eruption in my nether regions, I find myself asking, over and over, “why has this happened? Why in all my years of grinding away at the pedals am I in this kind of pain now?”

And that gets to another metaphorically significant aspect of saddle sores, that they are actually always there, just beneath the surface. Many of us live our lives by bicycle, or at the very least, it plays a major part in our everyday existence. We are in the saddle. We are pedaling. And those are the ingredients for a saddle sore. Now obviously, we’re not all riding around with inflamed crotches all the time. Mostly we’re good. But lurking beneath the surface, always, is the possibility of having whatever fleeting equanimity we possess stolen by a seemingly small malevolence, arriving at the wrong time and in the wrong place.

Think about your day today. How does it look? Probably fine. But there are saddle sores lurking. Perhaps we’d all do well to assess our situations, identify the possible sore spots, and apply a cream quickly, before things get out of hand.

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