Monday, January 11, 2010

Cars are hard, Cyclists are not: Part I

In the world of cycling, a polarizing divisiveness seems to be expanding.  No, I'm not speaking of the ever deepening rift between Lance Armstrong and Alberto Contador, nor between the left and right lobes of Cadel Evans' chin.

I'm speaking of the dispute between motorists and cyclists.  In my opinion, this dispute has now raised itself to the ridiculousness level of the city of South Beach, Florida which is trying to evict a chicken, named Mr. Clucky, to prevent it from riding around town on his owner's bicycle.

More specifically, I'm speaking of the Facebook group that has emerged recently entitled, "There's a perfectly good path right next to the road you stupid cyclist!"  On their page, the group features this photo with the slogan "Cars are hard, cyclists are not."

If there is one thing that the digital age of telecommunications has proven to us, it's that disputes can be fought entirely in the ether that we have now dubbed 'cyber space.'  Thus, not to be outdone by the supposed cyclist-loathing drivers of motorized vehicles, another Facebook group has been formed called "I prefer to ride my bike in the street so deal with it you stupid motorist."  In the same way that digital communications have put much of the US Postal service out of business with email, allowed us the convenience of assembling business meetings via teleconferencing, permitted us the speed of sharing medical diagnostic information via telemedicine, and offer the opportunity to chat with 50 year old fat men calling themselves "Kitten" via cybersex chat rooms, so too are Twitter, and Facebook allowing us to now CyberCatFight

CyberCatFighting should come naturally to yellow-braceleted, amateur roadies as they learned the appropriate tacticts from Lance Armstrong's flurry of words regarding Contador on Twitter immediately following the Tour de France last year.  At the peak of the ridiculousness is that nearly all cyclists are motorists as well, and I would be willing to bet that nearly all motorists at one time in their life rode a bike, and probably still retain those skills, to some degree. 

Despite a number of attempts in trying to petition Facebook operators to remove the anti-cyclist group from the site, they have refused to do so because in the words of Facebook's Simon Axten, "We've reviewed this group and determined that it doesn't violate our policies" regarding "how one interprets the phrase actionable threats of violence," for which, he contends, the group poses no risk. 

But what Axten perhaps should find concern with is the anti-cyclist's slogan "Cars are hard, cyclists are not." Of course, I'm speaking euphamistically now and weakly attempting to make a double entendre with the word 'hard.'  Several months ago, we discussed the impacts of a noseless bike saddle on erectile dysfunction with some interesting results.  Recently, another interesting paper has been published on this topic titled, "Cutting off the nose to save the penis," by Schrader SM et al. published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine (Vol 5, Issue 8, p 1932-1940.)  In this article, 212 121 male bicycle police officers in 5 major U.S. cities were asked to ride on a traditional saddle with long nose for 6 months, and then a noseless saddle for 6 months, after which they had their penile sensitivity tested.  One of the methods by which this was completed was via vibrotactile sensitivity thresholds....or how well does the old tallywhacker feel light vibrations.  For purposes of discussion of this methodology in the scientific paper, they demonstrated the device used to test penile vibrotactility with a rubber model shown here:

Essentially, the cop would go into a bathroom with the machine (named Inga) and place his favorite appendage into a little trough which then would start to vibrate.  At the moment he actually felt the vibration, he would push a button to stop it, and the time to sensation perception was recorded.  The shorter the time, the more sensitive his John Thomas was.  The results of the study were concerning.  Essentially, the researchers found that after cycling for 6 months on a noseless saddle, penile tactile sensation significantly improved.  That said, this, like all studies, has flaws. 

The first of which is demonstrated in the rubber model pictured above.  Anyone else notice the slight paunch acting like an awning over the little man?  This model may reflect what the paper fails to mention.  How many of these cops were spending an inordinate amount of time at the donut shop while on duty?  In other words, what was the body weight of the cops used in the study?  My guess is that a fat cop is going to put more pressure on his pudendal artery than a skinny cop, which is what would lead to more penile numbness.  This isn't mentioned at all.

The second flaw with the study was that there was likely a natural tendency to NOT push the stop button on the vibrating penis trough very quickly because....well......because it's a vibrating penis trough!

Researcher says, "Mr. PooBah, have you felt the vibrations yet?"
PooBah: "Ye....err...I mean...nope - not yet."
Resercher: "Because when you feel them, you are supposed to hit the STOP button - OK?"
PooBah:  "Yup - I understand....nothing yet."
Researcher: "Ok....because it's been like 15 minutes now....."
PooBah: "Wow - time flies - eh?  Nope not a thing yet.....maybe we need to increase the intensity?"

But male cyclists have nothing to fear.  There is an all-natural remedy on the way. No, no, no - I'm talking about Liz Hatch or Niki Gudex....

I'm talking about the pomegranate!  More tomorrow....

Pedal on!


  1. As the senior author of the paper on noseless saddles and a MU graduate I would like to address what is indicated as 2 flaws in our study. First was body weight. These are police officers and not road racers so they are heavier (due to their job requirements) and their weight is in the published paper. They averaged 215 lbs with their police gear (vest, gun, radio etc). They ride an average of 25 hours a week, so obesity was not an issue in this study. Second the very slight vibration is not a thrill and the computer operator in the next room can readily tell if it were an unreasonable time. The most important thing to remember in this study is that each man was his own control, comparing his value before changing to the noseless saddle to his test after the 6 months. Therefore, individual health issues are the same for both the before and after tests. I should also mention that were 121 men, not 212 in the study. There are now over 60 published medical papers linking sexual dysfunction issues with cycling in men. The noseless (no-nose saddle) alleviate the perineal pressure and appears to protect sexual function. There are also about a dozen medical papers indicating sexual function issues bicycling women. Again, a no-nose saddle would probably correct these issues as well.

  2. Dr. Schrader:
    Thanks so much for your comments and clarifications. You have my most sincere apologizes if my weak attempt at humor was construed as anything else. I will absolutely look into the other papers more closely and bring to light the issues found therein. Once again, thank you.

    CC PooBah