My name is Larry Holtzman and at the early age of 15 I was already in love with bicycling. It was the summer of 1972 when I worked building bicycles at a Schwinn shop in Mishawaka Indiana. The shop was a good ten miles from my home in South Bend. I rode my Varsity Schwinn 10 speed to work there every day that summer. Sometimes I would catch a semi tractor trailer at the light and wind behind it. What a rush that was when the truck got barreling down the road. Years went by and I moved around from one bicycle shop to another. In high school I worked building Raleighs and then when In college went back to a Schwinn shop at IU in Bloomington Indiana.
I always road used bikes and fixed them up. I can remember buying a set of high flag Campagnolo Super Record hubs and tubular sew up tires. My passion was always bicycles. In the 1977 I had my steal bike painted by the same bike shop that painted the US Olympic team bikes in Chicago.
In the early 80’s after college I brought my used, very cool painted bike with Campy Record and Shimano Dura-Ace decked out components to Texas. I even went as far as to hunt down black anodized bolts and gold chains for it. In 1986 I heard about a bicycle ride in Wichita Falls, Texas called the Hotter N’ Hell 100. It was a 100 mile ride and of course I had to go on it. It was a butt burner. Even with my padded shorts and padded underwear I still couldn’t believe the excruciating pain. The next year I used two layers of padded underwear and it helped a little. Years later on the second day of the MS 150 ride from San Antonio to Corpus Christy I was actually riding on my thigh the whole way because my butt hurt too much to sit on the saddle.
It was on MS ride and on my usual weekend ride I came up with the idea of having inflatable pads in your bike shorts that could be pumped up with air and released as you rode. I thought this was such a simple idea and also a great solution to my saddle sore problem. This pain problem seemed to develop if I didn’t change my position on the saddle a little from time to time. By shifting my position I would get temporary relief but that didn’t last, so I shifted again. Having pads that were adjustable (dynamic) might just be the key.
The day I thought about this idea I told it to the two people I loved and confided in the most; my girlfriend and my mother. They told me it was such a great idea I should patent it. That is exactly what I did. I PATENTED IT. The patent was named “inflated padded bike shorts”. Legal stuff, ya know.
It wasn’t that easy getting the patent awarded. Designing the shorts came with a huge learning curve. Having a medical illustration college education with years of anatomy and physiology classes under my belt gave me the ability to visualize what was happening to my bones and nerves in the butt and groin. My sit bone distance was something I was already familiar with. Numbness and a swollen prostrate added to the saddle soreness I was already experiencing which made my rides miserable. After a HHH ride a several years ago my PSA numbers went so high and off the chart, my urologist thought I had prostrate cancer. We retested three weeks later and they went back down.
I assume by now that you understand how this invention of mine didn’t come to me in my sleep. I wanted to make a difference on my rides and also so my fellow cyclists could benefit from my hard work and ideas. My first attempt on this invention was to sew the inflatable pads into the lining of the shorts. I didn’t have deep pockets to afford a design team to tailor the patterns for the riding shorts. The patent alone was 8000 dollars. I decided to solicited a textile professor at Texas Women’s University named Remi to pattern the shorts around the pumps and bladder I supplied her with. Remi did a great job on the first prototype and testing them commenced with yours truly as the test subject. I was amazed at how well the pumps could be inflated while I was still sitting on the saddle. I pumped them up more for bumpy surfaces and descents and then deflated them. It was so cool to feel how well they worked.
What happened next took a couple more years and is quite involved so I will spare you all the details. What I will share with you is that I wanted to take the shorts to the next level. So I decided to employ a medial device company to reengineer and design the ultimate pair of inflatable padded bike shorts. A pair of shorts that was state of the art. Something that could be easily machine washed without getting ruined. It had to work for every gender and size of cyclist. This all came with a handsome price tag., but it was well worth it. These shorts and bibs have all the bells and whistles. AeroAthletics uses the best Italian Lycra with the best bladder and pump construction. The shorts and bibs are easy to use. Most important, they are a pair of shorts or bibs that were designed as a medical device and work like a medical device should work.
I achieved everything I was after. It was a long rode (no pun intended) and AeroAthletics is just getting started. Ride our shorts or bibs as hard as you can and put them through your test on the most ultimate cycling you can muster up.