"When it's good then it's good, it's so good till it goes bad." -- Pink
If your cycling life goes smoothly and predictably all the time, then you won't need the tricks in this column. If you're a cyclist that occasionally runs into unexpected trouble, then you may want to have some of these tricks up your sleeve -- or is that up your arm warmer?
In this column is a collection of tricks I've gathered from various sources. Some I've tried myself, others I have not. In any case, someone else's solution may help you as well.
Dry, Rash-Free Butt Crack
One cyclist swears by diaper rash ointment containing generous amounts of zinc oxide to keep his butt crack free of rashes caused by the sweat of riding in the heat or for riding long periods in rain. Another cyclist uses the lightweight variety of diaper rash lotion on his entire fanny to keep heat rash bumps from erupting.
Numbing the Crash and Saddle Sore Pain
Road racers and mountain bikers carry a plastic bottle of spray-on Bactine® in their gear bags. This comes in handy to flush a wound with the antiseptic spray action and it also contains Lidocaine which is a topical pain reliever. Once the topical pain reliever goes into action, it is less painful to scrub the wound to remove debris.
One cyclist sprayed Bactine® on the pad of his chamois where a saddle sore had formed the week before. The numbing action on the saddle sore helped him get through a race that would have been much more painful without the topical pain reliever.
An Alternative Topical Pain Reliever
Advertised for burns, scalds and sunburns, BurnJelPlus is also a topical pain reliever. Similar to Bactine®, it also contains Lidocaine as a topical pain reliever. In addition to Lidocaine, BurnJelPlus contains tea tree oil. This natural oil is said to have antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties. A light application of the gel over the wound is an alternative other traditional antibacterial ointments. Be sure to cover it with a protective bandage to block dirt.
Sterile, Clean and Warm Hands
A pair of latex gloves in your cycling bag can serve multiple purposes. If you need to administer first aid and wound scrubbing to another cyclist, wearing gloves is a smart move.
The gloves can also be used to keep your hands clean when doing greasy, dirty mechanical maintenance and no hand cleaner is available.
Finally, if you show up to an event that travels to high altitudes and there is a chance of rain sometime during your event; a pair of latex gloves in your jersey pocket or hydration pack may save your day. High altitude rain and then a long mountain descent can be downright dangerous. Fingers cannot stay warm enough on descents to grip the handlebars, apply brakes or shift gears. A pair of latex gloves over your cycling gloves can help keep your hands warm and dry. They also grip the handlebars decently. The gloves are lightweight and easier to carry in a jersey pocket than a second set of gloves.
Along the same lines as the latex gloves for rainy mountain descents, cutting the corners off of a couple of sandwich bags can provide wind protection for your toes in cold, wet and windy weather. Cut just enough of the corner off to cover the front quarter of your foot. Slide the bag corner over the top of your sock and slide your bagged foot into your shoe. This small protection keeps your toes warm without making your foot sweat.
If you carry scissors in your gear bag, you can cut the corners off of a plastic poop bag provided for dog owners at many trailheads and parks.
One cyclist thought that he could make it through a ride before the weather turned bad. He gambled and lost. At a gas station he obtained a couple of lightweight single donut pouches to cover each of his feet. He offered to pay the clerk for the bags, but she happily gave him two bags so he could make it back home some 30 miles away. In his case, he wanted the bag to completely cover each foot.
If you get stuck in a cold rain or hail storm with no rain jacket, pop into a convenience store and ask the clerk if you can purchase a single trash bag. You can poke three holes in the bag, one for your head and two holes for your arms. I have yet to see a cyclist need to pay for a single bag, all of the clerks have been willing to part with a couple of trash bags.
If there is a big group of you needing bags, simply purchase the smallest box of plastic bags available.
Caught in a cold rainstorm and your head is freezing? Use a shower cap over your head or helmet to keep the wind and rain off. Shower caps can be found at grocery stores and some hotels.
A very old cycling trick is to put a section of newspaper under your jersey to keep the wind off of your chest on a cold mountain descent. The newspaper not only keeps the wind off, but acts as an insulator and keeps you warm.
If your next ride becomes more of an adventure than you had planned, perhaps you can pull one of these tricks out of your arm warmer.