A Delicate Part

by Alan Stark on June 14, 2011

Some fool talked me into a 340-mile road-bike ride in Utah, so I’ve been spending a good deal of time training over the last couple of weeks.

As a result of this training, there is a small part of my body, dare I mention it, that is near and dear to me, and now so sore that I walk funny. This is not something I wish to discuss with a doctor. He or she would laugh at me.

Every woman reading this is rolling her eyes back in her head and saying sarcastic things like, “And what part could that be?” and laughing raucously. “Does its little part hurt from too much riding?” More raucous laughter.

The technical term is “crotched-out,” and I was getting uncomfortable after only 15 miles when everything should have been working about perfectly. At 30 miles, I was standing up on my pedals to get some relief.

We all have self-images, and it is disconcerting to have a serious dose of reality muck with the self-image. It’s a personal thing too, that may just be a Y chromosome thing, but when parts don’t work right, the first thought is that we … in this case I … have turned into a wuss, that I’m finally falling apart and that it is time for the six pack and lounger in the teevee room watching some butt-ugly dropout trying to sing to three morons sitting in judgment.

I did Rabbit Mountain from Boulder yesterday. I stopped at the bike shop on the way back because I was in pain.

When I go into a bike shop, there are all these dudes with no body fat and carbon-fiber bikes that are worth more than my old 4Runner. Admittedly, like a dyslexic in a bookstore, I’m intimidated by the whole scene. That I have twice the BMI of anyone in the store doesn’t help.

“Um, er, I got a problem with my seat, I mean my saddle.” I say to the clerk.

“Yeah,” he says, “tell me about it.”

“I’m crotched-out after 15 miles.”

“Let’s look at it,” he says diagnostically.

“Not a chance.”

“The saddle, Man,” he says.

“Whew,” I say.

We walked outside and the clerk looked at my bike. He is kind enough not to mention that the bike was hi-tech at the turn of the century. After a quick look at the saddle, he says, “Worn out. You’ve put a lot of miles on the this saddle, it’s just worn out.”

“Then I’m not a wuss?”

“Nope, the saddle is worn out.”

We spent 10 minutes reviewing the various saddles that he had for sale. The saddle with all titanium components was out of the running; it cost more than I paid for the bike used. We settled on a saddle that had a tad bit of padding on it.

The clerk spent another couple of minutes mounting the new saddle and I rode off on a new saddle with a credit card receipt that Blue Eyes will certainly bring up for discussion at our monthly financial meeting. I will indignantly deny that I spent more than $100 for a bicycle seat. She will point at the credit card bill and call bullshit.

We need to remember that gear, like our bodies, wears out. That’s because, when we are screwing up, there is the possibility that it may actually be the equipment and not us. And that every once in a while we need some advice from a bike store clerk or a ski tech or maybe even a doc.

So when was your last physical?

Mine is Thursday.


A passage is about movement, motion and traveling. I have a mantra that has kept me alive in the worst of times, both in the mountains, when everything that could go wrong did go wrong, and in my head, where my fear of impending doom can simply shut me down. It is just this: “Keep Moving … Keep Moving … Keep Moving.”

Alan Stark is a very slow trail runner, has a road bike with a number of miles on it and has led three sea-kayaking trips off Vancouver Island and usually returned with the same number of people he left with. He is a partner in Boulder Bookworks and shares a home with this blue-eyed person.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

justsaying June 19, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Alan, in the blurb that goes with your photo, change “lead” to “led.”

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Juliie August 27, 2012 at 2:43 am

The pedal just came off. That’s what happened. LOL. I am not sure if I lost any parts I think it just came loose. I’ll have to bring it home tgnoiht and tinker with it. If it is fixed all the way I’ll be riding it to work again, wheather permitting, next week. Bike Gang!

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