Karl Marx was a miserable man who despised bourgeois conventions and advocated class warfare. His motivation for this wasn't generated by his experience in German sweatshops, but because he was afflicted with carbuncles. His affliction made it hard for him to work, which made his wretched poverty worse and destroyed his self-esteem.

I can't relate to the fist sized boils that Marx wrote about in his journals, but I can empathize with his discomfort from my experience. Yet, unlike curmudgeonly Karl, I refuse to yield to painful bacterial growths on my posterior from all of the grinding and chafing on tour. I'm already living like a vagabond, so I don't want some furuncles driving me to madness and communism on this trek. That's why I abide by an absolute standard that my bibs and chamois are removed as quickly as possible after a rude and washed, with river water if need be.

I know people sporting shorts that are two and three days into biothermal activity. These microbial composting ass-dungeons are doing Satan's work on thriftier riders. I heard a few of them lamenting about their saddle sores today in the Adventure Cycling lounge.
There's no way to eradicate soreness and raspy bumps from long distance riding. It's like herpes and Afghanistan: it just keeps coming back again and again. So, when denial gives way to acceptance my strategy for dealing with the scourge involves the following:

1: Washing

If a washing machine and enough quarters are available, it's easy to clean up. If not, any sink or basin will do. I carry a flat rubber drain cover so that I can build a washtub. Then I use Tide hand washing packets that work wonders with just a bit of agitation.

2. Ointments!

A man must have his topical creams. There are folks that swear by commercial cycling products like Chamois Butt'r, but I find the stuff too viscous and water soluble. A thick dollop if Balmex diaper rash salve coupled with some narcotics does the trick for me.

I discovered lidocaine ointment from an Englishman during the Paris-Brest-Paris super randonee whilst toiling at the 600 mile mark. Dr. Feelgood kept me going with a generous helping from his stash. I learned that Europeans, unlike Yanks, are allowed to buy pharmaceuticals without a prescription. Since then, I've legally used my connections to doctor friends to get my derrière drugs.

EMLA is used in dentistry for chancre sores, but wirks little wonders. Unfortunately, it comes in little tubes. Hence, when I can get it, I stock up on a 2.5% prilocaine/2.5% lidocaine generic cream in the largest vessel I can find. I have one of my cartel connections sending an Rx to a Missoula Safeway for pick up tomorrow. I'm stockpiling for the spartan land mass that lies ahead.

Balmex and EMLA is a winning combination that doesn't cure saddle soreness, but masks the problem enough to put a chafed man back in the saddle. While not as effective, the numbing agents in Vagisil and Preparation-H offer some relief, but fade so so quickly that it's probably not worth the effort but for a placebo effect.

"The bourgeoisie will remember my carbuncles until their dying day," Marx told Friedrich Engels in a letter from 1867. He was probably wrong about that, but I hope this posting will help his acrid legacy live on just a bit longer.