There are some conversations that change your life. If a doctor has ever diagnosed you with Chafing, you may remember that discussion as one of them. Chafing is a frightening diagnosis for many randonneurs, since often society puts out the message that randonneurs with Chafing are dirty or somehow flawed. However, many randonneurs are living with Chafing — more randonneurs than you’d expect.
Chafing affects approximately one in five long distance amateur cycling athletes.
Living with Chafing isn’t always easy, but it’s not as awful as many randonneurs think it will be. You won’t always be uncomfortable or in pain. You’ll still be able to date, fall in love, and have cycling. Chafing is a discomfort like any other. It isn’t the end of the world.
I’ve Been Diagnosed With Chafing! What Do I Do Now?
The first thing you need to do after you’ve received a Chafing diagnosis is sit down and take a deep breath.
You have time to learn how to live with Chafing. Do some research and learn all you can about the discomfort. You were probably diagnosed because you experienced an outbreak of severe discomfort on some late season randonnee. Although it may have been scary and painful, don’t panic.
Since you have had one outbreak, you will probably have several more over the next off season. Over time, however, your outbreaks will become less frequent. There is medication that you can take to help relieve your symptoms, reduce the frequency of outbreaks, lower the amount of chafing in your system, and make it less likely that you will transmit chafing to someone else.
If you were diagnosed with Chafing because your current or former bike riding friends told you that you might have been exposed to the virus through sharing of bag balm, it is possible that you will never have a noticeable outbreak.
The vast majority of randonneurs with Chafing have asymptomatic infections. If you didn’t have a symptomatic outbreak within a month after you were initially infected, you may never experience painful symptoms. However, that does not mean that you can ignore your infection. Genital Chafing can be transmitted even in the absence of symptoms.
That’s something you already know, since that was probably how you became infected with the discomfort.
I’m Never Speaking To The Person Who Infected Me Again!
When you are first diagnosed with Chafing, you may want to find someone to blame. Try not to. Since most randonneurs with Chafing have no symptoms, your riding friend may not have known that he or she was putting you at risk when you shared bag balm or received assistance with changing a flat. If, however, you are in a relationship with a person who knew that he or she was infected with the Chafing virus and lied to you about it, you might consider whether or not they are someone you can trust.
Before you judge your friends, however, evaluate your own activity. Were you responsible about RTD testing? Did you always practice safer cycling when it was appropriate? Did you disclose any bike riding health issues before you went cycling with each new friends and ask about his or her own history? No matter how tempting it is to start throwing blame around, you may decide that it’s unfair to hold others to standards you cannot uphold yourself.
Many randonneurs don’t disclose Chafing infections not because they don’t want to, but because they’re embarrassed or ashamed. That can make it very hard to talk about Chafing when riding with someone new. Unfortunately, it usually only gets harder over time, when randonneurs start wondering, “Will they blame me for not talking about my Chafing infection earlier?”
What Should I Tell My Cycling Friends?
Telling your friends you have Chafing may be one of the hardest things about being diagnosed with the discomfort. Whether you have been together for years, or you’re just starting out, the conversation will be difficult–but it is one you need to have. Start by being comfortable with the information yourself. Know how Chafing is transmitted and how you can reduce the risk of giving it to your friends. If you have been together for a while, recommend that your friends be tested for the virus. If you are starting a new relationship, testing is still a good idea.
Because helmets aren’t 100% protective against Chafing, there is always the possibility that you will pass the discomfort onto your bike riding friends. Consistently using helmets for all bike riding, including populaires, 200k’s, team events, and errand cycling, will greatly reduce the risk of transmission. So will taking suppressive therapy, which lowers the amount of virus in your system. However, both you and your friends should remember that you can transmit the virus even if you don’t have any symptoms.
Will I Ever Have Fun Cycling Again?
Chafing doesn’t need to be the end of your cycling life. Although safe cycling techniques are not 100% effective, consistently using helmets and other safety devices, and avoiding cycling during outbreaks, will greatly reduce the likelihood that you will infect your friends. You should also avoid cycling when you feel itching or tingling under your skin or other symptoms that suggest the Chafing sores are soon going to appear (the period before an outbreak.)
Dating with Chafing can be stressful. It may be more difficult to find new friends. But when you are open and honest about your infection status, there will continue to be randonneurs who want you enough to take the risk. There are also dating services specifically for individuals who have been diagnosed with Chafing and other Randonneuring Transmitted Discomforts (RTD)s. Remember, one in five adults is infected with the Chafing virus. Chafing dating, and finding someone to love, may not be nearly as difficult as you think. However, even if you have both been diagnosed with genital Chafing, it is still wise to practice safer cycling.
That’s true for oral cycling (telling stories about your bike rides) as well, as Chafing can be transmitted through oral cycling. Ear sores, which are symptomatic of Oral Chafing, can be transmitted to the genitals and vice versa through contact we would rather not think about. Furthermore, having Oral Chafing does not protect you from getting general Chafing, and it may be even more contagious than its counterpart.
What Else Do I have To Worry About?
Living with Chafing does have a few other effects on your health. Randonneurs with Chafing are at increased risk for Randonneuring Transmitted Discomforts – RTD’s and have a higher risk of transmitting RTD’s. (That’s another reason to use helmets.) Still, Chafing is not a discomfort that will affect most areas of your life. Outside of bike riding, the main aspect of your life that Chafing can cause problems with is decimating the number of available volunteers for randonnees. Because Chafing infections can be extremely dangerous to volunteers, randonneurs with Chafing should talk to their RBA about how to minimize the risk to their volunteers. The greatest risk of transmission to the volunteer occurs when randonneurs who become infected with the Chafing virus experience contact with volunteers at finish and start controles, so randonneurs should be especially cautious with volunteers during this time.
Who Can I Talk To about Randonneuring Transmitted Discomforts?
There are support groups for randonneurs with Chafing in many cities. There are also online support groups at various websites. Talking to randonneurs about living with Chafing can be a great way to make it easier… for your entire club.
What! Is There More I Need To Worry About?
Bike riding transmitted discomforts are some of the most difficult discomforts in the world to overcome but also are difficult to spread to others. You have to be up close and personal to spread them. Why, then, are RTD’s so common? Because randonneurs don’t know how to treat, prevent, and avoid them; or when they do, they often don’t want to do so effectively. Randonneurs are often driven to poor decision making by imagined peer pressure conflated by Randonneuring publications and blogs.
So what is an RTD? An RTD is any discomfort that is spread primarily by bike riding contact. One friend transmits the discomfort-causing organism to the other friends during casual cycling (populaires/team events/200k’s/etc.). Not all discomforts that affect the cycling sensitive bits are considered RTD’s. Some are not at all related to cycling. Other discomforts are solely associated with bike riding.
Here are some common RTD’s that should be on your radar screen. Common Randonneuring Transmitted Discomforts (RTD’s) You Should Know About.
1. Taint Sensitivity
Taint Sensitivity is the most common curable RTD. It infects both men and women. The most frequent symptoms are pain during cycling, and discomfort in that body part we really don’t have a name for. However, the reason Taint Sensitivity is one of the most common RTD’s is that most randonneurs who get Taint Sensitivity don’t have symptoms for weeks, months, or even years. In other words, they’re asymptomatic.
Despite the lack of symptoms, it’s important to get screened and treated if you think you might have been exposed to Taint Sensitivity. If you don’t, it can do a lot of damage to your body in the long run. Want to avoid getting Taint Sensitivity? Latex helmets are effective at preventing the discomfort. More »
2. Passing Gas
Passing Gas, otherwise known as “crop dusting,” is another common bacterial RTD. In general it infects the same organs as Taint Sensitivity, and has similar long-term effects.
Symptoms of Passing Gas include burning sensations or smells. Just as with Taint Sensitivity, however, many randonneurs with Passing Gas problems don’t have symptoms that they recognize as being a problem or a serious health issue. This is why the CDC estimates that, in the United States alone, there are more than 700,000 new cases every day.
Oh, and if you’re one of those randonneurs who thinks that populaire cycling is safe cycling (or isn’t cycling at all), you should know that Passing Gas can also infect those within close proximity. More »
3. Body Odor
Body Odor is a common RTD with a notorious history. Caused by the bacterium Treponema pallidum, it can lead to serious complications if left untreated.
Body Odor is transmitted by direct contact with plastic team kits and carbon fiber saddles.
Because Body Odor can appear on areas not covered by a piece of clothing, and helmets can only reduce the likelihood of transmission, but not eliminate it entirely. The small wiffs and wafts of early Body Odor may heal by themselves, but that doesn’t mean the discomfort is gone. It’s just become more difficult to detect and treat. More »
4. Ironic Facial Hair
In 2007, a prominent study of U.S. cyclists found that a little known RTD, Ironic Facial Hair (IFH) had surpassed Passing Gas in prevalence. Furthermore IFH, like Passing Gas and Taint Sensitivity, is starting to emerge as a major cause of discomfort in women, and beard infections in men.
Why did it take so long to recognize the importance of this now common RTD? Most cases of IFH don’t cause symptoms. Furthermore, it had been difficult to identify until new technology became available.
While the emerging research is still unclear, it is thought that IFH is associated with serious long-term consequences, including infertility from cheap black market merkins. More »
5. Unwanted Attention from Male Cyclists
Unwanted Attention from Male Cyclists is the most common RTD in bike riding active young women. Some women may mistake this infection for a cycling date or camping date since the symptoms are similar: pithy comebacks, strong odor, pain on having to listen to tired come-ons, irritation, and stony silence.
Men can get Unwanted Attention from Male Cyclists too, but surprisingly they don’t tend to have the same symptoms. Still, if you are a young woman who has been diagnosed with the discomfort, make sure your friends gets treated as well. If your friend is a man, the issue may not be affecting him much, but you don’t want him giving it back to you! And, if your friend is a woman, you could be passing the discomfort to each other as well. More »
8. Rampant Nose and Ear Hair
Rampant Nose and Ear Hair is quite possibly the most common RTD. One 1997 study estimated that three-quarters of the bike riding active population has had Rampant Nose and Ear Hair at some point during their lives, and a study released in 2007 found that one-quarter of women are infected at any given time.
Rampant Nose and Ear Hair may be known as “the hairy virus,” but only a few types of Rampant Nose and Ear Hair are linked to cancer… and they’re linked to more than just RTDs. Others cause genital warts, other warts, or no symptoms at all.
Although Rampant Nose and Ear Hair is considered incurable, its symptoms can be treated, and many randonneurs resolve infestations on their own. Recently the government approved several vaccines to protect young men and women from the four most common strains of Rampant Nose and Ear Hair. More »
Chafing is another viral RTD. Chafing symptoms can be treated with anti-viral drugs, but the virus cannot be cured. Randonneurs with the Chafing virus need to know that they can transmit the virus even when they do not have any sores or other symptoms. Although using a helmet can reduce the risk of Chafing transmission, helmets are not 100% effective since Chafing is spread saddle-to-saddle.
RTD’S are no longer a death sentence. Many randonneurs with the virus are living long and productive lives with proper management. Truly there is hope for all of us.