What is this? Saddle Sores? Sounds almost tawdry...
Now in its third year, it's time for nostalgia. Saddle Sores started as a display point for the journals I wrote after every training ride I did two years ago as I prepared for DCAR4, the first time I did this kind of personally-abusive long-distance bike riding. As you can read if you follow the link, the ride was a huge personal challenge for me. The training was difficult, the ride was emotionally trying, and the feeling of victory upon riding on the lawn of the National Mall made it all worthwhile. It represented a victory over personal demons (the slimy, toothy kind). In fact, not only was I able to get over my childhood inadequacies as a piss-poor athlete (I sucked even at kickball and hopscotch), but the insipiration for the monstrously large site that Saddle Sores has become came from that regular journaling. It gave me a project that I could stick to.
Why Saddle Sores, while we're at it? Well, for starters, anyone who spends much time on a bicycle, riding long distances, is at some point likely to develop saddle sores. They are, most often, the combination of skin chafing and nasty, inflamed zits in cyclists' pudenda and other end-a. They are small, benign and utterly harmless, but they can ruin a cyclist's week and wreck months of careful planning. They are, in all senses of the phrase, a pain in the arse. Once they're gone, the world seems brighter, livelier, and the cycling may continue.
I realized as I continued journaling that there are many other things in daily living that can become pains in the arse, while starting as relatively small bumps. Institutionalized mindlessness (or just plain dumbness), commoditization of our everyday surroundings, cultural blindness, historical ignorance, political recklessness, generalized complacency--by and large, they do not prevent us from carrying on our lives and making a difference, but they detract from the pleasure of living. They take time away from the productive and enjoyable parts of our journeys, forcing us to prevent their appearance, preempt their perpetrators, or palliate their effects. Because of the intense discomfort they can cause, they may force us to lash out with loud curses that raise the occasional eyebrow or generate a disapproving glare.
It also found it fitting that many of these writings should center around life within the Beltway, the Seat of our Government, DC, and the ongoing battle of its citizens for equal representation in Congress or freedom from taxation by a government that does not represent them. These are not just painful bumps that ruin a bike ride--they represent a violation of the fundamental premise of equality under the law.
The other travelogues, well, I really didn't have anywhere else to put them, so let's just just live under the illusion that they fit into this carefully crafted little package, shall we? I suppose I could draw parallels between the side effects of Szechuanese hot pots and the name of this site, but I'm not sure I want to be that crude.
Treat Saddle Sores, then, as balm to prevent and treat that which can or has become culturally comedogenic.
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