My friends, for the avid enthusiast cyclist, if you haven’t already, it’s time to shed the winter fur and take a razor to the legs. My wife prefers I go all year fur-free, and I happily oblige.
For those who didn’t know already, glistening guns are absolutely more aerodynamic – scientifically proven in a wind tunnel. Shaving the guns is worth between two and four free seconds a mile. That may not sound all too impressive, but that works out to between 200 and 320 free seconds over 100 miles. Now, either you save three to six minutes or that’s watts you don’t have to produce to keep up. Don’t stop reading just yet, though! There’s more to this than just shave your legs to be like the rest of the sheep.
I messed up when I shaved my legs the first time – I listened to the damned internet before properly investigating whether or not I should even bother.
So here’s “the rest of the story”. I was going to start riding with a group – my first club ride – and I didn’t want to look like a noob. Everything on the web back then said you gotta shave the guns – and this was before Specialized tested shaved legs in their wind tunnel. It was treated as a right of passage, almost. It even made the rules. I bought into the online hype and quietly, without telling my wife, went to town. Now, I had some hairy legs back then. Not quite yeti, but pretty freaking close. I even had to regularly trim that leg hair with a set of clippers when it got too long and unruly. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too much a shock for my wife the first time she crawled into bed and was like, “Hey, wait a minute“… God bless her, she loved my newly shorn legs and I’ve never looked back. But…
Upon discussing my new, sparkling guns with the owner of the local shop, he chuckled and said it was completely unnecessary as only racers bother. I had to scrape my jaw up off the asphalt with a shovel – I must have looked pretty funny because I was wearing one hell of an incredulous look on my face. I said, “But the internet”… and just let it trail off.
With that out of the way, there’s a pecking order of who shaves and who doesn’t – and this is important so you don’t show up for the wrong group with the wrong legs!
Gravel Roadies: Yea or neigh.
Mountain bikers: Don’t shave.
Triathletes: Shave, without question. Including eyebrows, ears, nose holes… possibly eyelashes… I’m just kidding. Just the legs will do, but you’re thinking about the eyebrows, aren’t you? I know.
Now, there’s a pecking order to that as well, because many of us cross lines into different genres of cycling. You defer to shaving. For instance, if you’re a mountain biker who occasionally rides a gravel bike, you’re okay with hairy legs. On the other hand, if you’re a mountain biker who occasionally plays a roadie, you shave. If you’re a triathlete dabbling in the other genres, think about investing in Nair… or see if you can be their CEO. The point is, if you will ride, even occasionally, a shaving bike, you shave. Or you’d better be able to lay down the watts so others are in awe at your fabulousness.
So, folks, the truth is you really don’t have to shave your legs if you’re a dude. On the other hand, I’ll never go back. Once you’ve ridden in a group for a while, you’ll pick out hairy guys in a pack almost instantly because they stick out like a sore, hairy thumb… and nine times in ten, that identifier tips you off to keep an extra watchful eye on how that person rides because they’re often new or not used to riding in a pack. Or they’re the one whose wheel you want to ride.
So, shave your guns or don’t. You will work a lot harder if you don’t. It’s science. And physics. And rocket science. Or something.
UPDATE: As you will see in the comments section, there is a technicality in terms of what “Guns” are. In weightlifting, guns are the arms – that which is used to pump iron. In cycling, the “guns” are the legs – what you use to turn the pedals. Just to be clear.
This is a question I’ve been contemplating quite a bit lately; would life mean as much today if I hadn’t had to take a stroll through hell to get here, first?
I wake up in the morning and I can’t help but be thankful for the day before. I think about work a little bit, check my email messages, think about coming home and seeing my wife and kids, think about a funny aspect of my ride the night before (Monday’s, for example, was a fun ride but I felt a little like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story because I had to layer up against the cold)… and all of a sudden, I’m thinking about just how good it is to be me and I can’t help but smile.
Every now and again, that morphs into, would I be this happy if I didn’t have to go through the hell of addiction first? Would I even have the capability to recognize what I have as fantastic if I hadn’t been so low? Better, without AA’s recovery program, would I be able to even grasp how truly beautiful my life is, let alone enjoy it?
See, here’s the cool part; my life isn’t all that awesome. I have to go to work every day, just like the vast majority of us. I have to pay the mortgage, we’re on a budget being a single-income family, work would be stressful if I let it get to me (and sometimes I do), we live in a small-ish old home (though I do have a spare room for my bikes, which is really cool)… see, there are things that aren’t perfect, or that could be improved upon, maybe, but I’m still exceedingly happy with what I have.
Now, most people would try to convince themselves they shouldn’t be as happy as this, and that would mess up that most excellent, “I’m grateful for what I do have” vibe. I’m not most people…
This gets interesting when I look at the overall meaning of the bad things I’ve gone through in life – including a rape in college (oh yes), addiction, arrests, a trial in which I was looking at a lot more than a stint in the county jail, followed ultimately by my recovery. All of the bad that I lived through, and there was a lot, makes all of today’s good better.
The simple answer to the question, why am I so grateful for what I have, is always the same. Who cares?! All that matters is “I am“. The full answer is much deeper, richer. When I seek to label things that happen to me as “bad”, I’m really doing myself a disservice because the bad makes the good, better. Another way to look at it, the bad ends up making all the work worth the effort.
In the end, I’ll take my awesome life as I get it. It’s all a matter of perspective – and for that, I am grateful. Again.