Day 24: Pants on Fire

Last night was Thursday, which means mail! As I ripped open a package from my parents after a 96 mile day, I was so excited to see some butt butter. I had used the last of the delectible, cooling cream on my butt the day before, and I was definitely going to be needing some lubrication for today’s long ride. The tub was the same as my old cream, but the label said ‘hot’ on the side. I was slightly disapointed to see that it was not going to be cooling, but I went to sleep with the happy thought of a nicely warmed toosh in my future.

Mornings on Bike and Build are insane, and today was no exception to the rule. We woke up at 6 am, and scrambled to get our lives packed into our tiny bags in our usual 15 minutes–a difficult, but now managable feat. Once I was packed and dressed, I pumped some air into my tires, filled up my water bottles and camelbak, and then applied my brand spanking new chamois butter (butt cream).

I immediately knew something was wrong.

The first thing I noticed was a slight burning sensation ‘down there’. It was very uncomfortable. I stood in the large room of the YMCA that we had slept in and, amid 30 other cyclists, grabbed my crotch in horror. It was more than very uncomfortable–I was on fire.


The bathroom on the floor I was sleeping on was out of service, so I had to run to the basement, down a flight of stairs. I pulled down the crotch of my cycling shorts as I ran, trying to get some air between my legs. I reached the bathroom, and started swabbing the cream away. As the burning sensation heightened, I knew more drastic measures had to be taken. I next ran through the locker room and into the showers. I had no soap, and no soap was provided in the communal shower, so I threw off my shorts and turned the cold water on. I jumped in with my undershirt, jersey, and hankerchief still on.

I was standing, shortsless with my legs open in the shower frantically rubbing cream away from my terrified hoo-ha when a strange woman came into the shower area. I died a little in horror, and quickly gathered my pride and my shorts, and fled. With every step I took, a new burn shook my body, and I knew more had to be done.

Sprinting upstairs, holding my shorts away from the burn site, I got myself to the kitchen. I wildly begged for help before Avry arrived and, no questions asked, gave me an ice pack from the cooler. I immediately stuck it down my pants and waddled into the dining area to sit on a chair and cool off. It helped, but only where the ice pack touched. I had to move the pack constantly to relieve the large burning area (I was EXTREMELY liberal with my cream this morning).

During breakfast I let my new family members know about my problem. I was met with sympathetic looks, groans, and laughs. We analyzed the package, and realized that the cream was not to be used on mucous membranes. Ever. The cream actually is supposed to be used on muscles during cold rides. The more you use your muscles, the hotter the cream gets, and the warmer your legs stay on freezing rides. A fact I would soon learn the truth of first-hand.

I am stubborn. My stubbornness has only gotten worse during this trip, and today (burning groin or not) I was going to ride. Dreading the moment I had to take the ice pack out of my pants, I delayed my ride until the very last moment I could–I was the last rider out of the host site. When I got on my bike, I thought that maybe I could ride, maybe the worst was over. I continued thinking that until my first hill.

At mile one, a hill reared its ugly head. As I started my ascent, the burning ramped up. What I thought was bad before was only a tickle, like sitting on a warm radiator. As I climbed, working my muscles, the flame under my butt became a four alarm fire. Standing up off the saddle did not help–the more I worked, the more I burned. But at the top of each hill, I stopped pedaling and the sensation subsided. Until it didn’t.

At mile 3.3 of my ride, and my fourth hill, I threw in the towel. I had been trying to talk myself into riding five miles and seeing how I felt then, a tactic that normally works. Today, with the feeling of sitting on a molten bike seat in the middle of a campfire happening with each hill, I called it quits.

I called the support van to pick me up and, once I hung up, I called my dad. He just laughed and laughed.

I’m sure everyone will be pleased to know that after another sink bath, an hour in the van, and an hour long nap, the burning subsided. I finished the rest of the ride (a lovely 40 mile jaunt) feeling as if I was given a new lease on life. My butt feels ready to go for our ride tomorrow–a nice short 100+ mile ride!