Leg-Shaving Advice for Cyclists

03.5.2008 | 6:55 am

A Note from Fatty: I’ve got a new article in BikeRadar today. You can read a snippet below, or click here to read the whole thing.

As a cycling aficionado, you no are no doubt anxious to demonstrate your commitment to the sport, even when you are not on the bike. “But how,” I hear you ask, “can I show my absolute dedication to the cycling lifestyle, hopefully to the extent that my family, friends, and coworkers will begin to cast sidelong glances at me and eventually take me aside and tell me they’re worried about the direction my life seems to be heading?”

The simplest and most obvious way to make it clear to all and sundry that you love biking beyond all rational reason is to wear a helmet, 24 hours a day. Nothing says, “I am always ready for a ride’ like wearing a helmet to a business meeting, to church, or to an exclusive restaurant. Inexplicably, however, this is frowned upon in polite society.

The next-best way to visibly demonstrate your alignment with the cycling lifestyle, then, is to wear full pro kit everywhere you go. This has its own pitfalls, alas. Namely, pro team sponsors have such a rapid turnover rate nowadays that the US$380 outfit you bought today is promoting a team that may well be defunct or disgraced next week. Which brings up a question: would anybody like to buy my 2005 Phonak, 2006 T-Mobile, or 2007 Astana jerseys? Cheap. Hardly ever worn.

Deprived of these options, then, how can you show your undying love for cycling?

By shaving your legs, of course.

By shaving your legs, you are stating, unequivocally, that you are willing to spend an extra five minutes every other day with a razor, just so you can look like other cyclists. It’s like getting a tattoo that way, except you don’t have to re-get the tattoo three times per week.

Answering the “Why?” Question
By shaving your legs, you open yourself up to the question, “why do you shave your legs?” This is an incredibly good thing, because the answers are invariably self-flattering. For example:

Click here to continue reading “Leg-Shaving Advice for Cyclists” over at BikeRadar.com.

PS: Here’s a cool piece of news: I’ve been asked to write a monthly column for Cycling Plus, a print magazine in the UK, published by FutureNet — the same company that owns BikeRadar.com and CyclingNews. I wonder if I can get them to give me a free subscription, since I can’t afford to buy one ($98 / yr in the US).

PPS: While I was on the plane to Houston, the doctor’s office called and left a message that the MRI shows my left wrist hurts because of a torn tendon and cartilage damage and that I should call them back; they’re putting together a referral with a hand surgeon. More details after I call them today.


All In Your Mind

03.4.2008 | 10:49 am

I’ve been watching Season 1 of Prison Break — recommended by a number of readers here — to entertain me while I ride on the rollers. I watched two episodes today, as I dutifully spun in place.

You know what, though? I kept drifting to a stop. It’s not because of the show; it’s an entertaining, action-packed series. It’s just because of one simple thing:

I am so sick of riding my bike inside.

As I was riding the rollers this morning, I tried to think about why, from a purely physical point of view, I have come to loathe riding the rollers so much. And you know what? I couldn’t come up with a reason. With these new rollers I have, the physical experience is pretty darned close to that of riding on the road. I can stand up and sprint. I can coast for a moment. I can set the resistance high — like I’m climbing a steep hill — or low, like I’m riding on flats.

But that doesn’t change the fact that I am sick to death of riding the rollers.

As I turn the cranks, I’ve started wondering: why do I like bikes? Is there anything really all that fun about turning the cranks round and round and round? What’s the point?

Last Saturday, though, the weather was good, the low roads (anything below 5000 feet) were dry, and I had a couple hours to myself, so I got outside. I got on a flat, long, straight road, and rode out for an hour, then turned around and came back in about 45 minutes (the wind direction makes a big difference).

In a lot of ways, the ride wasn’t much different from riding on the rollers. Straight, consistent effort. Not great scenery. Nothing technical. Nothing special.

But there was one huge, important difference: now I was having a lot of fun.

The big question was: why? Why can I absolutely despise turning my cranks over for 90 minutes on the rollers while watching an interesting TV show, but feel almost irrationally happy while doing essentially the identical thing on an unremarkable suburban/rural road?

To tell the truth, I’m not exactly sure. I didn’t start today’s entry with some brilliant insight I wanted to share with you.

Sure, I have a few ideas. It’s better because when you’re outside, your effort is rewarded with the sensation of motion — something rollers can never do. And when you’re outside, you’re going somewhere, even if your destination is the same as your origin. And sometimes, watching something real — even an unremarkable hill covered with dead grass — is more interesting than the best TV show in the world.

These are all pieces of the reason, but they’re not the reason. It’s something I can’t explain. It’s something in my head — and probably in yours, too.

It comes down to this: when you reduce cycling down to mere exercise, it’s nothing special. In fact, let’s be honest: as pure exercise, cycling is exquisitely dull.

It’s not ’til you get outside — pavement or dirt, doesn’t really matter — and go somewhere that cycling gets in your head. And then cycling stops feeling like exercise and starts feeling like something much, much better.

Congratulations, Jill!

03.1.2008 | 8:56 pm

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Iditarod Trail Invitational website, tracking the latest news page and the leader board. Why? To see how Jill Homer — a person I’ve only met through blog comments and occasional email — is doing on her 350-mile race to McGrath.

As of today, she’s completed it. Six Days, Two Hours, and Twenty Minutes.

Unbelievable. I am incredibly impressed.

If you look at her report from Nikolai, you can tell she didn’t just breeze through it. She’s pushed her bike through knee deep snow for 45 miles. She’s pulled her right hip flexer muscle (I’m not even sure what that is). She’s bivied at 20 below 0 (F). She’s been so tired she’s fallen asleep at the bike.

You know what I can hardly wait for? I can hardly wait for her to tell her complete story. That is going to be an epic ride story worth reading.

Be sure to swing by Jill’s website and leave a comment, congratulating her on her incredible success, OK?

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