Guest Article: Reverence – Rule 33 For the Risk Averse

The Shaved Guns

We’re going to take advantage of our break in the Velominati Super Prestige to get a few articles out that have been sitting in the queue but haven’t had the opportunity to see the light of day due to the busy race schedule. Besides, we’ve spent the last two days bemoaning a couple skinny kids’ lack of tactical prowess and arguing over which under-rated riders are actually over-rated riders. Don’t get me wrong, I love the discussions and I hope they continue, not to mention that this is the most exciting time of year, but there’s so much more to our sport than just racing and Pros. There is also the matter of Looking Fantastic at All Times, oh – and riding our bikes.

We jump in today with a debut Guest Article from our own Sgt, wherein he details his journey along the road to La Vie Velominatus. So grab your beverage of choice and settle in. Enjoy.

Yours in cycling,


While we all aspire to La Vie Velominatus, and strive to apply The V in all its manifestations to our avocation, some things seem to be harder than others. I’ve been back on the bike for a few years now (after a 15 year absence). Since throwing a leg over in late 2006 at 200lbs+ (I wasn’t self aware enough back then to refer to myself in metric measures, even today), struggling away on a triple crank, bonking after 35 minutes, European Posterior Man-Satchel dangling astern, I have been on what seems in retrospect to be a steady course towards enlightenment.

Over a couple seasons of honing my skills, learning group and paceline etiquette, riding constantly with clubmates and friends who could and did put me in the hurt box, I slowly became able to sit in, then take my pulls, occasionally sprint for the town sign, and even dish out a little of The V on the climbs (very little to be sure). At about that point, I began to notice that certain people I ride with (although by no means all, or even most of them) exude a certain je ne sais quoi, and I started to wonder what they were doing that I wasn’t… and how I might be able to somehow conjure their easy, Casually Deliberate style.

And then came a fateful trip to Italy in 2008.


(that’s me, above center, you can see I had long way to go)

Riding every morning with a couple of friends through the heart of Tuscany was my first taste of a wider cycling world, and made it clear that I had work ahead of me if I wanted to embrace what I now know as The Rules. The first step was ditching the Shimano triple in favor of Campy 10 speed on my ’06 Lemond, which proved to be simply a gateway drug to my current steed:

Then came a serious breakthrough when, like Gianni , I acquired a couple truly awesome Italian kits on my next trip to Italy last spring:

Up until then I had progressed from cheaper PI and Nashbar stuff through goofy souvenir jerseys to better quality branded kit (Castelli, Giordana etc.) to joining a club and donning club kit. Luckily increasing fitness and weight loss made it necessary to constantly upgrade.

Next was coordinating helmet, shades, gloves, etc. (Yes, I have two identical helmets with matching Oakley Radars for each, depending on which kit I decide to wear. Get over it.)

At this point I knew I was on to something. But I while I was pretty sure what needed to happen next, I needed a little motivation. Well, as the Buddhist proverb says, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear”. In August of last year I ran across this hallowed ground, and like so many of us, I found a home for my own brand of off-kilter commentary, a repository of knowledge, history and passion for our sport, and, of course, The Rules.

Going over them repeatedly, I immediately acknowledged The Rules’ inherent wisdom and rational approach to cycling. I also ruefully noticed that I was in violation of several of them, notably Rules #29, #40, #68, #74, and of most obviously, the dreaded Rule #33. Once I knew that V-Kit was in my future, my path became clear; to become as Rule-compliant as possible, in preparation for the donning of the Sacred Garments. A Vision Quest, if you will.

Rule #29 was easy, as I’ve noted elsewhere on the site. $6 USD for this, and I got a bunch of bandaids and sterile wipes to boot! Everything for at least two punctures goes in, along with mini-tool and ID. And losing the Man-Satchel made the bike handle better too.

Rule #40 simply involved giving a shit when repairing punctures or replacing tires. Done and done.

Rules #68 and #74 went together, but involved a sacrifice: getting rid of the Garmin. I had been rationalizing its presence for months, using the following excuses (in no particular order): “I like it”; “It was expensive”; “It calculates gradient and total ascent”, “it does cadence”; blah, blah, blah, and the killer; “I know a lot of good cyclists who use a Garmin”.

Well, I know a lot of good musicians who shoot smack (not really), but that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. So the search for its successor began. And let me tell you, it wasn’t easy.

After a lot of trial and error (and more than one purchase and return), I finally came across this little gem. The Blackburn Atom 4.0. Set to metric, it’s Rule #74 epitomized (simple, small, stem mounted, wireless). And cheap enough to put one on each bike.

(BTW, if any of you have the balls to publicly post that you want my Garmin, I’ll sell it to you cheap: Garmin 705, complete setups for two bikes, plus maps for Europe and North America, $350 US, plus shipping. Any takers? And thanks for the free ad, Frank!)

Which left me stalled at my hirsute appendages. Rule #33. Staring back at me. Mocking me. In my defense, I hate shaving. I’m a hairy dude. Neighbors swear to have seen Sasquatch when I’ve gone outside for a late night slash (it’s closer than the bathroom, shut up). In fact, I gave up using blades on my face in favor of my trusty Norelco years ago. I bleed just looking at a razor. But I knew I had to do something. My riding buddies were noticing my new-found esprit and wondering when I was planning to prune the tree trunks. But I just couldn’t face the thought of scraping a blade across such broad expanses of tender skin. I knew there had to be a solution out there. An electric solution. Again, I searched. And searched. And agonized. And searched. (Try Googling “man-scaping”, just for fun. I dare you. It’s not pretty.) Finally I found something claiming to be the answer to my prayers. The Philips Norelco BG2040/34.

What Hath God Wrought?

A few clicks on Amazon later, and it was on its way. When it arrived, I opened it up, plugged it in, set it in its cool little stand…. And chickened out. For a week. Then another week. I knew I had to Rule V this one; the wife wanted to know what the hell it was, and I couldn’t stand to have it looking at me every morning! So one afternoon in November, all alone on my back patio, I took the plunge. It switched on with a pleasing whir, not unlike my trusty Norelco. It had a sure-handed heft to it. And Holy Shit! It went through the thatch like Sherman through Georgia! Ten minutes later, the right leg was silky smooth. Ten minutes after that, Rule #33 had ceased to haunt me. I was fully compliant; the guns glinting like bayonets in the sun (a little lotion helped). I’ve rarely been so impressed, or relieved that it worked so well. Once a week, 15-20 minutes, no muss, no fuss.

Seriously, and to make a long story short: if you dread Rule #33, give this bad boy a try. Yes, it costs a little more than razors and soap. And no, it doesn’t get as close as a blade. But it’s damn good. It’s really fast and comfortable. And you won’t cut yourself, or get an ingrown hair, or use up your VMH’s Lady Schick.


The V-kit arrived yesterday; it was waiting on my doorstep when I got home, just in time for an afternoon jaunt.  Let me start by saying that the quality is absolutely first rate; I have way too much kit, and have tried most of the top brands, and Frank has selected some great fitting, stylish and comfortable stuff here.  The leg grippers are snug but not binding, sleeves just the right length.  It does run snug; although I normally wear L in upper range Castelli, I had to get XL bibs to accommodate the guns (thanks for the exchange, Frank!), so if you’re planning to order, go bigger than you think.

One journey is now complete; La Vie Velominatus awaits.

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131 Replies to “Guest Article: Reverence – Rule 33 For the Risk Averse”

  1. @Lepidopterist
    Nah I’m pretty sure the threats aren’t exactly serious, however she’s not entirely keen on the developing obsession with cycling (it’s been a passing interest since we got together).

    One upside is it’s now moving in to winter here in Sth Aus so the burgeoning guns will most likely be covered for the better part of the next 3 or 4 months anyway. Gives me some time to gently work her around.

  2. @Ron

    Awesome. I am very inspired. I can’t wait to take possession of my Norelco and go to town as well. I am about as pale as you can get (thanks a lot Welsh, Irish, Canadian, and German ancestors), but I can at least be pale without sick hairy legs.

  3. mcsqueak – Ha, I’m glad my Rule #33 compliance has provided a bit of inspiration. Good luck with your grooming!

    And oh wow, there has been an inquiry about the Garmin…ballsy!

  4. Got 33 days left here in the sandpit.
    There’s a brand new Scott Addict R2, unridden except on the trainer at my fitting session in January, waiting for me in Melbourne, Australia.
    I have had hairy legs for the years I’ve spent here, and am looking forward to shaving down.
    Here in the middle east it’s heating up. It’s 39 today, and getting hotter each day. You just don’t stay outside for any time at all. So my skin is pale as all paleness.
    I’m wondering if I want to take the edge off my pale legs with a subtle ‘bronzing moituriser or some shit’ over the next few weeks so i don’t blind people. Is this:
    a) sensible
    b) a bit gay
    c) very gay, what the fuck are you thinking?!?11

  5. @Blah
    Bronzing moisturizer? You’re kidding, right? I prescribe 5 sessions of 3 hours on the turbo for you to think about what you just asked.

    Shave the guns, go out and ride. The rest takes care of itself.

  6. @Blah
    That is hilarious! And a bit gay.

    No artificial tan lines. That’s doping to look PRO. No no no. Sunshine and time in the saddle. Lots of Rule #5. And Rule #33. By the way, the Scott Addict R2 is a great frame. What components are you running?

  7. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    Forgive me Merckx for I have sinned. Or thought about sinning. Same thing, really.

    The R2 is bog-standard at the moment. Couldn’t resist a store-wide 20% off at freedom machine in Melbourne at new year’s so I grabbed it when I saw it. It has Ultegra throughout with a DA bottom bracket (apparently… BB91 wtf?), Ksyrium elites. The rest is Ritchey, pretty much, with their WCS alloy gear.
    They’re claiming 7.2kg w/o pedals, which will be my older Look Keo carbons, at least to start. Weight’s not too huge a deal, as I’m fairly heavy myself.
    Geeze I can’t wait.

  8. I can’t really tan, but I do get a little color over the summer and I love cultivating the “glove” tan line at the wrist. Even with all the sunscreen I slather on, it’s a subtle reminder that I’ve been enjoying my summer outside riding my bike.

  9. my tan lines are sharp, but my last name is Santana so it goes with the territory. I am actually getting worried about skin cancer.

  10. @mcsqueak
    Yeh, I tan up real nice, but my ‘summer’ is spent in winter… I work as a teacher in the northern hemisphere and get a long summer break that I spend in Melbourne, Australia in June/July.
    How I miss my crazy tan. I even had the tanned fingers but pale hands, and half-moon tan on the top of the hand from my glove velcro fastening.

  11. @Blah

    d) DON’T use a “bronzing moisturiser” champ or you may look like this!

    When you get back to Oz it’ll be cold enough that no one will notice due to the knee warmers or tights you’ll be wearing.

  12. Actually, in my bunch this look would be fine, I think. Here’s a snap of us relaxing after a very tough Beach Road run – all the way to Elwood and back that day.

  13. @Blah
    I note the distinct and conspicuous absence of women. Clearly you’ve spent too much time in New Jersey.

  14. @Blah
    890 grams for the R2 frame. I’m not a weight weenie, but that’s damn good out of the box.

  15. Blah :
    Got 33 days left here in the sandpit.There’s a brand new Scott Addict R2, unridden except on the trainer at my fitting session in January, waiting for me in Melbourne, Australia.I have had hairy legs for the years I’ve spent here, and am looking forward to shaving down.Here in the middle east it’s heating up. It’s 39 today, and getting hotter each day. You just don’t stay outside for any time at all. So my skin is pale as all paleness.I’m wondering if I want to take the edge off my pale legs with a subtle ‘bronzing moituriser or some shit’ over the next few weeks so i don’t blind people. Is this:a) sensibleb) a bit gayc) very gay, what the fuck are you thinking?!?11

    First Relpy, quote, adn post on Velominati. And of course I have sent the link to this specific subject…rule 33 to the two apes that I ride with on a regular basis. I have been and will continue to be compliant long before dicovering The Rules. And Rule #5, I live north of hell freezing over, so “check” on that mother too.

    For Blah, my time in the sandbox left me pale and weak on the bike. It destroyed my budding track career at age 38, and sucked like it sucks. Enjoy the suck, stay low, and keep moving brother, and that Scott will treat you right when you get back home!

  16. @Blah

    I’m in a similar sandpit and riding 10,000km a year, all year round.


    … and my tan lines are razor sharp.

  17. Blah :
    @Dan_RYay – someone who understands!Thanks for the words of support :-)

    I am still in uniform (finishing up my last year), so yeah, I understand. I will pour a Belgian down and pray to Coppi and Merckx for your safe return!

  18. Oh yeah, friends don’t let friends use bronzing whatever…as they say in Quebec, ganger un bronzage naturale…or something like that. My French suce le big one.

  19. @ChrisO
    Congrats to you. Where are you?
    Got a workmate who is doing similar, bless him, and a mate who rides a fair bit. A bunch goes north out of Doha on a dead straight, flat road each Friday. They ride x miles and turn around and ride x miles back. Whoo fuckin’ hoo.
    When I packed my stuff to move here four years ago the wonderful guys at Wridgeways Removalists dropped my bike on the road on the way to port and a car went over it. Apart from those exact team of guys trying to hide the smashed and broken bike, the company was great, paying out the four grand insurance in a cheque ASAP.
    So I arrived in Doha looking to buy a bike – you can get Trek, Giant and Specialized no problems here as long as you don’t want to test ride (they order what you want), but saw what the local scene was. Seriously, the roads out of town are 2. One north and one south. Both straight and flat. Said Fuck That.
    Then there are the drivers. Wife said she wouldn’t sleep at night if I was riding. I know what she means. Dopey, stupid, deadly.
    I love riding a bike. Love it. But not here.
    I did buy a single speed mtb to have some fun on (Charge Duster ftw), and I do.
    So that’s me. I stand by my decisions.
    Or I could HTFU. Whatever.

  20. @Blah

    I can’t really blame you for not riding in the desert… seems really, REALLY freakin’ boring… I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have basically endless combination of ride routes that I can come up with here at home. I get bored doing the same thing over and over, gotta mix it up!

    You’ll have plenty of fun riding to make up for once you move back to wherever you’re from, and if you’re in the military it’s likely you’re in good shape even without riding all the time.

  21. You could always refer to Rule #5! LOL…mental state has got to be part of Rule #5!

    I didn’t ride in the desert due to the chance of getting lead poisoning or exploding. That said, 62C is kind of warm to be doing sprint intervals with 50kgs of gear on…technicaly speaking I was not too fat to climb, but due to that lack of pedals I was two months from peaking. Is there a new lexicon word coming out of this? What do you call it when someone cannot ride (maybe due to the environment or family???) but remains somewhat fit? Cross-trained? …..??

  22. A Rule #33 observation… you have never seen the true face of horror until your 14 year old son, in full teenager mode, has walked in on his middle-aged father in the bath WHILE he is shaving his legs.

  23. @ChrisO
    I can picture the scene. You were just doing your legs?

    I became Rule #33 compliant back in June for a bit of a laugh before a sportive but then found I liked it so have kept it up. Told some work mates the other day and reactions ranged from curious, to “of course, you cycle”‘ to disgust. Yet to test the chicks dig it dimension as I am in-between VMHs right now.

    One thing that could just be me, but when I get cold the sensation of the now missing leg hairs trying to stand on end is most peculiar.

  24. @G’phant

    But they miss the deeper truth that, for many of us, cycling has proved to be the vehicle which made possible a major life-change: from overweight, out of shape, middle-aged couch Potato to trim, fit and altogether more vigourous person. None of us who have made that journey want to go back. We feel so much better now.

    And we also look a whole lot better – better than we used to, and better than many (probably most?) of our non-cycling friends. And that desire to stay looking a whole lot better is one of the things that makes us eat better (and less), drink (a bit) less and cycle (a lot) more. (Not the only thing. Cycling is an end in itself. Being fitter is an end in itself. But let’s not deny the added motivation of also looking better.)

    If a bit of shaving, a bit of preening, the occasional splurge on an entirely functionally redundant extra helmet / pair of knicks / stem / etc, and regular indulgence in the company (virtual or otherwise) of like-minded souls is an inevitable (and possibly necessary) part of the package, I can live with that. It needs to be kept in check with regular doses of humility and humour. But the like-minded souls on this site do a pretty good job of ensuring that. So let’s just admit that, for many of us, being good, feeling good and looking good are inextricably intertwined – and then get out those razors.

    I’d rather be smooth, fit and trim than hairy and out of shape. The fact that those may be the only two options for me might be a little pathetic. But I can live with that. Hell, I can celebrate it!

    Thanks, Sgt.

    Amen and well said!

    I complied with Rule #33 a few days ago. Suffering the transition as I try to learn this new craft (and prevent razor burns and associated discomfort) and expose the newly defined guns (from the hairy and out of shape ones of a few months ago).

  25. Looky what my barber has just started stocking!

    Was almost disappointed that I’d given the guns a fresh shave in the morning…pretty keen for the first use.

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