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. @G’phant
    I still don’t get it: is this building on Tschmil’s criticisms about Pippo’s performance this spring? (Around these parts, what I’m doing is called twisting the dagger or taking the mick…).

  2. @Xponti
    I did wonder about that, but decided to give him the bennefit of the doubt. My bad. But it’ll just make my laughter all the sweeter when Donald Trump becomes his president.

  3. mcsqueak :

    sgt:PS It also helps if you can lay down some V while you’re at it. Which I can typically manage.

    That is yet another dilemma for the ages. Do you shave the guns to look the proper part, even if you’re still two months from peaking, or do you let them stay hairy because you don’t feel worthy of the look?

    My interpretation of Rule #33 suggests the hairy legged are always compelled to lay down the V every ride to avoid the hippy douche tag. Shaved riders are can use more discretion on account of training properly, tapering and recovering.

  4. @Oli Brooke-White
    +1 one. I have shaved since I was 11. Obviously I didn’t need to shave then, but I did. I shave all year round, all the time. It’s part of my rhythm. I feel dirty with hairy legs. I shave then even when travelling in India. As you say, it makes me feel like I’m part of the gang. Helps me stay rooted to what I love. Simple as that.

  5. @sgt
    Raises an interesting constitutional issue: does Trump need to have been born in Canada to become its president? If so, have we seen his birth certificate? And is it any more genuine than his hair?

  6. @sgt loving the two helmets, REALLY want to do the same, just feel like such a douche going out in a red jersey and a blue lid. Though i do co-ordinate gloves as that’s easier to afford

    @all those who shave with razors, do you use the razor you’d normally use on you face and just LOADS of cream, or are there some preparation steps required.

    Got my 1st race coming up in three weeks time, BRICKING it, i feel the tension will be taken away by looking the part

  7. @Steampunk

    How fucking sad are we when dudes from The Canada and New Zeaworld go tit for tat about a fat capitalist doosh from our country and a non-issue waste of time that less than 10% of our residents believe yet takes up 80% of our news cycle. Generally not proud to be an American during this current time period. We can do so much better. My grandfather’s generation on the other hand…

  8. Just reviewing The Rules and got stuck on #72. Holy fuck, this is why I’ve stopped doing the Thursday night ride I’ve been doing for two years. The ride is good for training, but fuck, all the dudes talk about before/after is STATS. Fuck that, I’d rather ride alone, and that’s just what I’ve started to do.

    I was watching Stars & Watercarriers and the scene where the doc is tending to Ole Ritter got me thinking…I can’t recall the last time I had a general exam. I ride daily and some days pretty hard/far. I’m not that old though. I guess I’d be dead already if I had heart problems. But, what does the Velominati do about physios? Once a year? Not worry, as we’re in pretty good shape?

  9. Jeff & G’phant – what you two have written has me very close to taking the plunge into Rule #33 compliance. Hmm, is the last Friday in April the day to do it?

    The funny thing is my VMH, formerly my gf, now my fiancee, has always been against the idea. She’s out of the country until May 19. Might be just the time to do it!

    I’m also still waiting for someone to inquire about sgt’s garmin…

  10. @Sam

    @all those who shave with razors, do you use the razor you’d normally use on you face and just LOADS of cream, or are there some preparation steps required.

    To quote the great G’Phant in Obey the Rules: “All I need is mah blade an’ mah Baxter.”

  11. @Ron

    Jeff & G’phant – what you two have written has me very close to taking the plunge into Rule #33 compliance. Hmm, is the last Friday in April the day to do it?
    The funny thing is my VMH, formerly my gf, now my fiancee, has always been against the idea. She’s out of the country until May 19. Might be just the time to do it!

    To paraphrase Worf, “Perhaps today IS a good day to shave.”

    Your lady will be shocked at first, then come to love it for the same reasons we like it when they do it. The legs look way mo’ bettah. Then she’ll start getting weirded out by doods with hairly legs. Its the natural evolution.

  12. Yes, The path to cycling enlightenment. I remember the dark days before I started down the path. Cruising on the bike trail; Mountain bike shorts and baggy jersey flapping in the wind. But we must all begin somewhere. I’m proud to say that I’ve come a long way from that.
    I’ve been lurking for a few months, and after reading sgt story, what better time to log in for my first comment on Velominati? Another step on the path has been taken. I still am a non-follower of Rule #33, but that may change soon. I figure my family already thinks I’m weird enough for wearing “that spandex stuff,” so they probably won’t even notice. Then I’ll be one step closer to Cycling Nirvana.

  13. How bad is it to be bike compliant but not shaving (both beard & legs) compliant?

    Wife’s been asking me to shave for quite a long time, imagine her surprise if I do both legs and beard!

  14. I remember the first time I shaved my legs well…(sort of)

    I had gone and played tennis with a friend the Friday before and now on Tuesday was getting ready for a big ride on Wednesday. The buddy was over and was encouraging me to do the trim. I hadn’t felt well for a day or so, but was stoked for the ride so I said heck yeah and I will shave my head too.

    For some reason I started with my head. My wife (at the time) sort of had a weird look on her face as she did the first few passes on my crown. “What the heck is this mark on your scalp?” I went into the bathroom and looked in the mirror and saw a few circular red discolored spots on my head. Upon further inspection, I found I had one on my neck and my chest and the start of a few of them on my upper arms.

    Not knowing what they were, I decided to go over to the ER at the Hospital I worked for. There the MD told me I had adult onset Chicken Pox and I should be fine in few days.

    Long story short, he was wrong. I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. I went into a 104 degree sort of fever fugue and woke up on Saturday afternoon shaking uncontrollably. That was due to the fact that my brain was starting to swell.

    I was fine after some steroids and antibiotics, but I never did go on that long ride with my friend. I did shave my legs eventually but quit after a few years.

    Maybe once I get a few K in I will do it again.

  15. This being a Pearl Izumi ad notwithstanding, I love that you can’t tell which leggs are the dude’s and which are the chick’s. Or if they’re both dudes, or both chicks.

  16. @frank

    The ad is sorta ambiguous but there are a couple of clues. I’m betting the one with the socks trimmed in black is a woman – Rule #27 doesn’t seem to be applied to them with equal fervor (btw, if true, does this necessitate a rule edit?). The other set, well, if it’s a guy than a Rule #27 violation – but I’d much rather imagine it to being another woman – because I can.

  17. Sorry I’m late to the pack, was just back in the cars…

    Great post! I’m not #33 compliant, but in my defense I was for a lot of years back when I used to race. My worst crashes were actually on hard group training rides or ‘unofficial’ training series races and gotta say that the road scrapage on smooth guns was a little less damaging and the healing process a lot easier.

  18. smoov.b.luvman:
    so whats with the hairy arms then, freak?

    Cyclists have arms? I never noticed. Too busy being in awe of the guns on many folks.

    In a few millennium, cyclists arms will probably start to de-evolve, much like the arms of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

  19. @Ron
    After I quit racing, I let everything grow out and became a civilian. Each time I would start riding again, I’d do the first ride without being Rule #33 compliant. I’d look down and get embarrassed. I looked like a hirsute douche. So I’d shave. Then I’d quit riding and get out of compliance again. Now that I’m totally committed to riding almost everyday and plan to for the rest of my days, I stay shaved, tanned, and rested. I may always stay two months from peaking, but I’ll look the part.

    As for the razor, I use the Gillette Fusion–the five bladed beast. I use Aveeno Theapeutic Shave Gel. I shave my legs, face, and head with the same blade. I shave every three or four days. The Fusion blades last me for weeks before they start to get too dull.

    Do it, man. Get on with it. You will feel so much better when you head out for rides. You’ll feel committed. You’ll ride longer, harder, and more often. You’ll buy better kits. You’ll buy better bikes. Among your friends and family, you’ll be the fittest, by far. You’ll never again get breathless climbing stairs. Your doctor will be blown away.

    By the way, I’m committed to my annual check-up with my GP for July 25th. A VO2 Max test, heart and carotid artery ultra-sounds, and a body fat analysis are on the menu. (Both sides of my family have histories of heart and arterial diseases.) I have very real motivation to kick these tests in the ‘nads. I want my numbers to be unbelievably awesome for a 44-year-old. This is my climb up Wannahockalugie, and I WILL climb well for my weight.

  20. @tomb
    But if you had shaved your legs earlier, you might have noticed the tick that infected you (smiling emoticon thing here).
    Bad illness though. Sorry you got sick.

    I was thinking, “clean white sheets and blanket? No dude is involved here.”

  21. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Yup – full medical every coupla years, including stress ECG. Sounds good to be told you have the fitness level which would put you in the top 10% of 20 – 30 year olds when you are in the bracket 20 years past that. Until you reflect on what that says about the average fitness of the general population and realize where all your tax dollars are going …

  22. @Jeff in PetroMetro
    Good luck, JiPM. I hope your plumbing is spotless.
    One upside (?) to the cyclist with peripheral vascular disease is that the legs tend to become hairless.

  23. @G’phant
    Yeah. Comparing myself to the general population will be enlightening. I think I can take ’em. I know I’ve got 30% of the population beat. These are the ones who sit in a car, then sit in a cubicle, then sit in a car, then sit on the couch, then go to bed, then get up and repeat.

    PAD–I hope you’re not referring to yourself. Rough stuff.

  24. Frank – hmm, maybe today is the day. May is almost here, the Giro is closing in, I’m 5th in the VSP GC, and I’m going riding with two awesome dudes tomorrow, both of whom are Rule #33 compliant.

    Jeff – I think I have a Gilette Mach 4? I have very little hair on my body and face. I need to shave every 3-4 days & I can’t even remember when I last changed my razor blade.

    I better not start buying better bikes and kits…I’m already at the breaking point of my bank account. If I shave my legs and feel so good that I buy a Record 11 gruppo next week, I’m sending you the goddamn bill!

    Good luck with your physio. I’m only 30, played college sports until I was 22, had a year or so layoff and I’ve been a Velominati ever since. I think I’m in pretty good overall shape. My worst, and only, vice is that I like to drink beer & some whiskey. Then again, I think I probably metabolize the heck out of it, considering I either ride or play soccer a few hours a day. My family tends to live very long, until about ninety. The only grandparent to die early was from skin cancer that progressed. On that note, one reason I don’t like putting on sunblock is the challenge of rubbing it into my legs. Hmm, smooth legs will take cream more easily. I think I just have been pushed over the edge to Rule #33 compliance! And it’ll be insanely easy to explain to my VMH if I tell her it’s to make putting on sunblock easier.

    I’m just trying to decide if I should razor it or get a shaver? Hmm, with how unhairy I am, it’ll probably take a long time to grow back on my legs. Might as well razor it and decide on a trimmer later.

    @ all – yeah, beating out the general population in the U.S. on health tests is pretty much nothing to be excited about. I can’t believe how fat so many people are. At the beach even young girls are fat! It used to be the freshman 15, now it’s like the 9th grade 15. Fucking insane. It’s depressing. We DEFINITELY need to set up the health care system to reward fitness and turn the screws on fat people.

  25. @xyxax
    Here in NC, most of the time the tick that infects you just bites and doesn’t stay attached. That was the case in my incident.

    Not to sound like a PSA, but if you guys are like me, you are always messing about in the garage with my bike collection. Keep alert for tick and spider bites. This is the time of year when those are rampant.

  26. tomb – sheeit, I’m in NC as well. Have a dog and two cats. They probably bring in spiders and ticks! Ah! I’ll have to watch out for this. I just saw a spider in the house today.

    And there is a snake den somewhere nearby as well. One of the cats has brought three inside in the past few days. Thankfully they’re only 8″ long or so.

    @ all – I also think it is awesome how many older dudes are in incredible shape thanks to cycling. Keep it up! One guy I recently met is 51 and looks so damn good. I hope I grow up to be like you lads!

  27. Let me clarify my earlier post…. 5 minutes after reading this post I began the process of becoming Rule #33 compliant… 45 minutes later I am now smooth like a baby’s ass. Now to work on cutting that time down.

  28. @Jeff in PetroMetro

    I’m only 29 so I haven’t had a super-intensive physical yet (with VO2 max, all the heart stuff, etc), but late last summer after I had been cycling for five months, I had blood work done so I could see my cholesterol levels. They were all very good, which I was quite happy about. I’m fairly skinny, but would like to drop 10 lbs (including the little man-belly), so I’d like to continue to cycle more and make some small changes in my diet to lose the excess fat.

    I’ve cut out all red meat for about 6 months now, and I only have a few beers a week (maybe 2-4, I generally don’t drink at home). Portion control is my next step… I can pound down food until I’m “stuffed” if it’s in front of me.

    At any rate, a ride a day is a good goal… now that I live in a better neighborhood to launch rides from, riding more often is much easier. I’d like four days a week to be my minimum this summer, barring travel for work/pleasure.

    I’m going to order that razor that sgt posted from Amazon ASAP and try it out. It should make rule compliance easy… I have somewhat hairy legs and would not want to be shaving the old-school way.

    And… I think the hipsters with their skinny handlebars have already started the arm de-evolution…

  29. Hey, and while we’re on the subject of The Sacred Garmets, I too will add my praise to Frank for picking Nice Stuff. Heed the sizing advice herein: I fit reasonably into the XL jersey, but need the XXL bibs because…well…I’ve got BFGs. The short sleeve jersey fit is really worth thinking about, because if it fits correctly as a summer jersey (its designed purpose) there is really very little give in the fit and fabric to accommodate a base layer.

    My kit is clean and it never sags.

    And for the record, I’ve discovered continuous touch up with the blade and soap each morning in the shower suffices for R33 compliance. Its the initial thatch that sgt describes that sucks.

  30. I just write “girly man razors” and “girly man shaving cream” on my wife’s grocery list when I’m running out of supplies. My kids are not amused. But I assure them my cycling friends approve and shaved legs are completely normal in my world.

  31. Rule #33 compliance achieved! Looks kind of funny, as I have my mother’s Irish skin, not my father’s Italian skin. More pale & pink, than olive & awesome. Oh well.

    First rule-compliant ride in two hours. Nice.

    On another note, I have a small crack in the frame of a pair of my shades. Has anyone successfully glued a pair of Oakley’s? It’s at a non-stress point so I think it’s possible. I tried some epoxy, so good strong stuff, but that didn’t take.

    Wondering what glue to try next. Gorilla? Super? Other?

  32. Thanks, Frank! That’s right, I knew there was a good reason I liked Stuey.

    Not to be too vain, but I thought I’d show off my razor work.

    The Guns Pre-33 (with a nice rookie grease mark thrown in for good measure, had been running the dog via bike when I picked it up; thought the hairy legs deserve it)

    The Guns Post-33 (and calling them “guns” is a gross overstatement; I’ve played field sports like soccer and lacrosse my entire life, but sadly, I am stricken with skankles and freckly chicken skin):

    Just got back from three hours of riding & I’m still getting used to them, I must admit. I’ll give it a few more rides to settle in.

  33. I’m feeling many a similarity to the early beginnings to this story…currently getting back in to cycling after a 15 year absence spent ruining my body playing AFL and struggling away on an alloy Schwinn with what I can only assume might be the same Shimano triple crank described above.

    Working my way through rule compliance on a rule by rule basis and haven’t quite got to 33 yet…lack of understanding (read: threats of divorce) from the VMH have made it a little difficult!!

  34. Could not stop reading this one, brilliant! I want one of those Phillips things.

  35. frank:
    This being a Pearl Izumi ad notwithstanding, I love that you can’t tell which leggs are the dude’s and which are the chick’s. Or if they’re both dudes, or both chicks.

    Easy. The size 38 shoes are clearly the women’s, the size 44 must be the guys. There is no other way to tell is there?

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