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Chafed into Phnom Penh

by Tara

I'm not concerned about the onslaught of chaotic traffic as we approach Phnom Penh. I'm not bothered by the dust clouds swirling around the unpaved road construction projects we're riding through, or how the green fields and Cambodian countryside we've come to know and love have transformed into a dirty, urban sprawl.

In fact, I'm having trouble thinking about anything. My mind is wholly consumed by the searing pain between my legs, surging violently with every pedal stroke. It doesn't happen often, but when it does… welcome to the dark side of cycle touring.

It starts as a pin prick sensation. Eventually, the pokes turn to razer blades that slice with every movement. It's a feeling that makes me breathe with stilted, sharp, in-breaths, and wonder if I've ever felt anything more painful in my life.

Thankfully, armed with my leather Brooks saddle, the evil beast known as chafing has been 99% eradicated from my life. As well, my seat has been carefully adjusted to suit me, the height set just so, and the angle tweaked by minute degrees until it fits perfectly to my body. In spite of this, whether because of the heat and humidity, or the sheer amount of time I spend in the saddle, I occasionally wind up with what I'd call severe chafing.

On days like this, I realize just how much surface area there is all folded up down there, and just how much action it sees when it's pressed up against a saddle for five hours, moving ever so slightly back and forth as my legs pump up and down.

I actually feel fortunate when it manifests as a horribly painful bum chafing. Just about anything would be preferable to the unbearably searing crotch chafing I'm experiencing today. Cycling like this is an eye-watering, excruciating affair that makes me hate bicycles and everything bike-related.

Stopping for breaks only makes matters worse, as drying sweat produces salt crystals that add some extra grit to the insufferable sand-paper effect. Meanwhile, using chamois cream helps, but it also seems to encourage yeast infections. It's not a happy scene.

I've come to the conclusion that this complicated and sensitive part of my body was simply not meant to be squished up in spandex, reamed against a bike seat, and made to carry much of my body weight all frickin' day.

Getting off the bike doesn't provide much relief, either. Arriving in the city, I can't really walk, only hobble around with my legs splayed out like a sumo wrestler. Seeing how much pain I'm in, Tyler takes care of finding our accommodation and hauling our things to the room, allowing me to remain as motionless as possible.

On a more positive note, our long haul is now over and we'll stay settled for several days so Tyler can work, and I can heal.