First of all, Ewwwwww.
Get your mind out of the gutter. I'm not talking about trying to impress anyone. I'm talking about self preservation.
A little over a week ago, my Lovely Wife asked if I would like to join her for a Saturday morning cycling class at our local fitness center. She has been going to these classes several times a week for many months now. In addition to being a great aerobic workout, they have done wonders for her back, which takes a beating from hours each day with her arms in the air cutting, coloring and styling people's hair.
It isn't as though I have been resisting her efforts in the past. When we first started dating almost twenty years ago, I joined her for step aerobic classes. The day after the first class I could barely walk. Muscles in places I never knew had room for muscles hurt. I had a choice to make: go back for another class or roll over and die like a big weenie. I went back and that's all it took. The soreness immediately disappeared and we regularly attended classes together.
Since then we have lived what I imagine is the typical life of a young American middle-class couple. House, marriage, dog, second house, first child, second and third children on the same day (twins maybe not so typical), second dog, third house, etc. Many of those listed items (by which I mean the children) have a way of eliminating time normally spent exercising. A decade or so of trial diets and dusty exercise equipment purchased with good intentions kept us from ballooning as we continuously fought the good fight to fit in our clothes.
In the last year or two, the growing self-sufficiency of our children has afforded my Lovely Wife and me some free time to reclaim our lives. For my Lovely Wife, this has translated into time at the fitness center. For me it has translated into time spent writing. Not that I haven't been getting my exercise. Each morning I (try to) get on the treadmill for a quick walk/run to burn off several hundred calories. This hasn't turned me into a GQ model, but it has kept me about five pounds lighter on average than I had been.
So, I agreed to join my Lovely Wife for a cycling class. I had my reservations.
First of all, I don't have a pair of cycling shoes that clip onto the pedals. This was easy to get over because, after all, I have ridden bikes since I was a young kid and never had these high-tech shoes. The lack of shoes that clip to the pedals never caused me harm on a moving bike, so not having them on a stationary bike should not be a problem.
My greatest concern, based on what everyone has told me, is how the bike seat will treat my nether region. My sweet cousin Betsy has likened cycling without the proper equipment to being educated on how it feels to be gang-raped. I have never had the need to feel what it might be like to be gang-raped, so I went into the class with inadequate padding and genuine fear.
I enjoyed the class. My Lovely Wife and her brother helped me select and set up my bike. We climbed on and warmed up, waiting patiently for the instructor to begin the class. When she did, she explained that the program would take us from comfortable, to breathless, to uncomfortable. To be honest, if uncomfortable were the goal of the class, it would have been achieved as soon as I saw my brother-in-law in his padded biking shorts.
Maybe my time on the treadmill has not been for nought because after the class and even the next day I did not experience rubber legs, aching calves, or severe chest pains. The only negative reaction came in that lower area, between the front and back, which is an area you really don't want hurting. It's amazing, considering how generally useless and private this area of the body is, how much involvement it has with everyday living. Sitting, standing, walking, crouching, climbing steps, they all seem to agitate this nether region when it is sore.
When this past Saturday rolled around, I was asked again if I would like to join in. I said yes and immediately started wondering how I would avoid another few days of posterior pain. While in Greensboro on Friday, we almost stopped at a cycling shop to purchase some padded pants for me, but even the idea of my pasty white butt crammed into tiny black sausage casings made me more uncomfortable than remembering how they looked on my brother-in-law.
As the time approached, I developed a plan. Adding a second pair of underpants would surely do the trick, I thought, so I pulled some on and then put on my gym shorts. I walked around for a few minutes. I sat and stood and crouched and climbed and tried in every possible way to test the effects. The end result fell short of my expectations.
Then I was struck by lightning!
There, floating in my underwear drawer, alone and useless, was the answer: a single, solitary white sock. I took the sock, folded it in two, and quite unceremoniously but with surgical precision inserted it directly over the very place that the week prior had felt violated. I immediately knew this would work. Who could have known that proper cycling protective gear could possibly involve a white sock and an extra pair of Fruit of the Looms?
Sure enough, I left the class later that morning feeling confident, energetic, healthy, and proud to tell the world about the sock in my shorts.