Illustration: Ryan Perkins
The other day, I introduced myself to someone who recognized my name from this column and said, “Oh yeah, you write about bikes and butts.” Oh god. Am I the Miley Cyrus of columnists? Look guys, I write about butts ‘cause they’re a pretty crucial part of cycling, being the thing you sit on and all. Well, if that’s the case, I feel like I’ve been letting my fans (hi Mom and Dad!) down lately as my #fbg4lyfe status hasn’t been written about for a few months. Fortunately, I have friends (hi Colin!) who care about my integrity as a writer and female cyclist, and sent me a link to an article about a fascinating Kickstarter campaign for chamois panties.
If you get nothing else out of this column, I want you to know one thing: how to pronounce “chamois.” It’s “shamee.” You’re welcome. Now that you’re not going to mumble through the word as you read my column aloud to all of your friends, let me tell you what chamois panties are. Basically, a company based out of Austin called Urbanist, dedicated to “saving the world from spandex,” has more than successfully funded a Kickstarter campaign (doubling their goal) to create sexy, padded women’s cycling underwear. I’ll be honest: when I first glanced at the campaign and saw a skinny girl in panties sitting on a bike, I rolled my eyes and thought, “Is it really so hot in Texas that people are gonna start riding around in their underwear? Shouldn’t they be marketing these to the nudists in Portland?” Then I did what so many of my Facebook friends often fail to do before posting, and actually read past the headline. It turns out that Urbanist’s chamois panties are the answer to all my cycling prayers. The following is an anticipatory product review, as they’re still in the testing stages, which must be an interesting process when it comes to panties …
A few months ago I bought a beautiful, cushy pink Terry saddle from Saturday Cycles that was meant to replace the supposed size-tailored racing saddle my butt cheeks had completely enveloped over the past few years––I blame Eva’s Bakery, my serious relationship and ice cream. It’s actually a really nice saddle, but it didn’t make the kind of difference I was hoping for. I can’t speak for anyone else’s anatomy––I still don’t quite understand how guys straddle anything, let alone a narrow bike seat, with all those dangly parts––but it seems that no matter what angle I adjust my bike seat and handlebars to, my saddle rubs in all the wrong places. When your stage curtains start to go numb, it’s a good indication that some crucial house lights are being cut off, if you know what I mean. Enter chamois panties (dramatic pause).
The panties come in two styles, and they look like regular women’s underwear––ruched on the back, sheer sides, patterned––but they have a magic chamois pad sewn into them. I imagine it’s like wearing a couple of super absorbent maxi pads without having to worry they’re going to unstick and slide into your pant leg. Of course I’ve considered the fact that we’re all going to look like Tina Fey in that SNL Tampax commercial parody. They don’t look like that on the model, who’s probably considering implants now, but my size 9 cheeks (on a good day) don’t need the extra cushion, aesthically speaking. These definitely have skirt potential, though! For the past six years, I’ve had to choose comfort over style so many times as a commuter that I don’t even bother brushing my hair most mornings. These panties are more than just a genius idea––they are female liberators! We can finally ride bikes and be feminine! Exclamation points!!!
Whew––now I just need to get my hands on about seven pairs. Urbanist raised over $50,000 on Kickstarter––I imagine I have enough fans (hi Mom and Dad!) to fund what will ultimately save my nether regions from falling off. (You want grandkids, right?) Meanwhile, I’ll continue salivating over the chamois panties over on urbanistcycling.com. I’ve even come up with a new slogan for them: Ride long, ride free, ride girlie!