By Mike Dayton

I was deep into my first 400K when my ass caught on fire. And what did I expect? Shorts rubbing directly on the seat for 200 miles. With all that friction, I was lucky I didn't burn the whole bike down.

Back then, I was still learning the ropes. I'd never heard of a Schmidt hub. I'd never heard of PBP.

And I didn't know the first thing about butt creams.

Success in long distance biking depends, in part, on mastering the pressure points. That means avoiding the hot spots on the feet or the raw blisters on the hands.

And yes, the saddle sores on the old derriere.

Lord knows, I've had my share—and I have the pictures to prove it. But I'm delighted to say those painful memories are finally … well, finally behind me.

Riding buddy Chet Buell was the first to suggest a soothing balm for the buttocks—more specifically Bag Balm, the stuff that's sold at garden shops. The problem is, I could never figure out how to carry that big green tin.

So I searched in vain for something else. I tried A+D ointment and various tubes of Vaseline. Those did not really do the trick. The suffering continued.

It was Cap'n John Ende who pointed me to the magic potion I'd been searching for. He's a doctor in real life, and I think there's a class in medical school, Balms 101, where those guys study up on all the hush-hush lotions and creams. The ones they don't want us to know about.

We pried the secret out of Ende during our flèche ride (see May 2004 American Randonneur). Of the four team members who'd done PBP, Cap'n was the only one who returned home without a crippled keister.

Okay, we asked, how'd you do it?

One word, he said: Lantiseptic.

Actually, it's three words, I've since learned: Lantiseptic Skin Protectant, described as "an emollient ointment intended to protect the skin, promote the healing of skin injuries, and serve as a first aid treatment."

The product contains 50 percent lanolin, the natural, protective oil of wool. It also contains beeswax and petrolatum to produce "a fine emulsion of outstanding tenacity," according to the company's Web site.

Tenacious indeed. It nearly takes a chisel to get the stuff off — the very thing I want protecting my flank steak halfway through a 1200K.

Lantiseptic is typically used in nursing homes and other elder care facilities to treat minor burns due to incontinence and adult diaper dermatitis.

It's also used to treat stage I and II pressure sores (read: saddle sores). Therein lies its value for long distance cyclists.

One nice feature: Lantiseptic is available in 0.5-ounce packets and four-ounce tubes, as well as various jars. The packets are especially handy for single-use applications on a long ride.

Interested? Get your local pharmacy to order some, as most stores don't stock it. My four-ounce tube cost under $6.00. Be sure to ask for the Skin Protectant, not the softer Therapeutic Cream.

Tail winds. And remember, as always, your mileage may vary.