Tuesday, 22 May 2018

The Cycling Undies





As I’ve got older I’ve managed to pin down and identify many of the hang ups that existed in my life and sometimes even move past them. Most negative crap that we grow up with comes from incidents in childhood after all. Fighting, talking to girls, loneliness, fear of isolation & betrayal are all things that happened to me when I was little and I’ve more or less comes to terms with them and have now evolved past their control.

However….

Something I had always put down to a flinch response based on extensive bullying at school, turned out to be something very different. Far from being a psychological hang up my constant physical trepidation in nearly all situations stemmed from one thing.

The wrong underwear.

To elaborate….

Living on the coast of Rome (2 miles from Fiumicino airport in fact) I have found public transport to be a pain the arse so I invested in a bicycle. I cycle to and from work and on the weekends I can sometimes clock up 50 miles in a day. I approached a friend of mine for advice on how to keep healthy while biking and he listed the following things as essential.
1). Tubeless tyres.
2). A saddle with holes in it.
3). Padded cycling undies or cycling shorts.

I couldn’t afford the first two (the tyres mean that unless you cycle over a running chainsaw you won’t get a flat, the saddle means your arse and man bits get ventilated) and asked him if he really thought the shorts were necessary. After a pause he replied “Errr…how come you’re cycling 50-ish miles in a day and you don’t already know this?!”

I had noticed some discomfort with cycling but had adapted my micro postures in the seat to be as comfortable as possible. For some reason I never got saddle sore and never needed nappy cream after a long ride. My mate said “You’re telling me you’ve been cycling that far and you never considered this?”

So, I went up to the local Decathlon sports shop and spent €8.99 on a pair of cycling undies. After washing them and letting them dry (echoes of my grandmother warning me that “some dirty tramp might have had his tassle in that!” when the subject of second hand clothes came up) I put them on and went for a spin. 

Lo and behold. A much more comfortable and pleasant ride than ever before.

Reason?

I have very large testicles. I’m not boasting it’s just a fact.

The undies were so comfy that I wore them for the rest of the day and I realised about five hours in to having a foam lined crotch, that I was feeling a lot more secure and less vulnerable. On a sub conscious level I felt “safe”.

I realised today that the constant tentativeness I felt in daily life was through having to always be aware of not banging my junk on anything or sitting down and squashing one of my nuts. I had been this way for so long that I had ceased to think about it and it had become part of my muscle memory. Along with how to wash my hands, tie my shoelaces or even ride the bike. Things that we do without thinking because we’ve done them so often that they are just “stuff” we do. 

I never felt this way in Krav Maga training because, as anyone who’s trained more than once knows, the first time you get kicked in the bollocks/ fanny when you are unprotected is the very last time you forget your groin guard. My daily life however was full of “keeping safe” without even knowing I was doing it. Distance, positioning, even walking up a flight of stairs. Fact I was able to balance my balls on a mountain bike saddle for over 500 miles of riding without sustaining any type of injury or pain is truly a marvel.

I’ve also started becoming quite flexible through daily yoga and the revelation that my inability to kick high came from being tight in the legs was apparently obvious to everyone except me. 

Overall the simplest things are usually the ones that help us to see the flaws in life. By buying a pair of padded boxers for less than ten Euros I finally got not only a smoother and less stressful ride on my Leopard 500 but I also feel a lot more confident in public, solely due to having an adequately protected scrotum.

Sometimes what holds you back is right in you face.

Or not, in this case.

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