“We’re all in this together, and some more than others,” is I think what George Osborne said when he announced last week he was cutting the deficit, or the economy, or society, or whatever it is these politicians like going on about. So while I don’t understand the ins and outs of such goings on – I’ll leave that to the very clever clever people who kindly run our country for us – I do know that some tough choices are just around the corner. During the years of prosperity my body has become used to the pamperings of luxury products; only the finest of organic fairtrade energy bars passes my lips, and only the silkiest and most exclusive of creams and lotions come into contact with my delicate skin.

But, alas, no more. Some poor folk out there (you know, up north somewhere), will be forced into patching up their tubes by gas light, and running low end Shimano groupsets in order to make ends meet. So it’s only right that I also make sacrifices – after all, how am I supposed to upgrade the Zip 404s on my Cervelo S2 next season if I’m throwing money away on designer skin care? Below is how I’m getting on after making some of my very own ‘tough choices’:

Chamois cream

I admit to being rather squeamish when talking about anything pertaining to ‘down there’; I shuffle about, blush a little, and giggle like a schoolgirl. But, to the perverted mind of you, my dear readers, that sort of stuff is like catnip. “Seeping puss-filled crotch sores”: I can see my Google hits going through the roof thanks to those short five words alone.

So in the interests of public service education – and my Google rankings – I can reveal that the humble Sudocrem (from £2.99 for 125ml from all good chemists) is the answer to irritation-free economy cycling. There is no expensive perfume, or scent harvested from lavender growing at the foot of Mont Ventoux, nor any claims to being organic, or made from natural ingredients. I very much doubt it’s fair trade. But when applied liberally to ‘that’ region ‘down there’, it works a treat. After all, what is good enough for a baby’s bum, is surely good enough for mine. Plus, if you happen to suffer from any friction burns – possibly pertinent, again, to the more deviant sectors of my readership – this multi-use cream would come in very handy.

Others may also want to experiment with Vaseline, but from my little knowledge of the product (gleaned entirely from the mid-nineties Elastica song of the same name) I feel it’s not a product suitable for a gentleman.


Rubbing a balm into your legs to keep warm is not a concept I’m convinced by. Why not just put more clothes on? Ever heard of leg warmers? Personally I just pile on the layers until it becomes physically impossible to bend my leg at the knee. I’m not good with the cold, and a thin chemical layer between my trembling flesh and the winter air is not my idea of ‘warm and cosy’.

But in the interests of research, I recalled my childhood footballing days and how Deep Heat (from £2.69 for 150ml from all good chemists) played a vital part in our pre-match rituals. There is something unmistakable about the dressing room odour created by aerosols of Deep Heat liberally sprayed onto pasty young legs, and all the other emanations inherent with teenage boys; sweat, damp unwashed kit, and farts. In fact, mostly farts. I’m sure it was quite a flammable mix, the merest spark enough to blow us all to smithereens.

Without doubt, this cheap alternative to specialist embrocation products is just as effective – i.e. not effective at all – and should help give the reassuring illusion of warmth while frost bite slowly takes hold of your lower limbs.

Recovery food

As I’ve pointed out before, the sports food industry is built upon fear. And us cyclists are obviously a very fearful bunch, as we hoover up all these ‘specially formulated’ drinks and shakes and bars as if our lives depended on it. But are there any benefits to be gained from these premium priced snacks?

According to a respected medical and scientific journal – The Daily Mail – so called ‘super foods’ can be found in the most likely corner of the supermarket. Or in some cases, to be found hanging up behind the bar of a pub.

The humble pork scratching (Mr Porky, 75p for 25grams from all good pubs, corner shops and garage service stations) has, according to the Mail, “an amazingly high protein content,” which “benefits muscle and bone health.” Who knew? And no need to worry about all that fat as its simply “mono and polyunsaturated fat” which isn’t all that bad for you, apparently.

So there you go, lovely salty tasty fatty pork scratchings make a perfect alternative to your usual post training regime – all you need to do is come to the terms with the fact that you’re tucking into a bag of pig skin. Then again, no one said that these budget cuts wouldn’t mean making some tough choices.