The Softer Side of Cycling

Yes we suffer on our bikes, occasionally experiencing a Sapim worth of what cycling's hardmen, the half-frozen damned, go through grinding out mile after mile in the horrific trials of races like Paris Roubaix. What many outside of cycling don't see, and what I didn't appreciate until I became truly velodramatic was the gentler side of our sport. To lay the luxurious textures of Rapha black on the unprepared and unannointed male body would be sacrilege. What follows is the recommended Velodramatic pre and post ride body care regime. With a little practice this routine becomes second nature and usually takes less time than the ride itself.

To get at cycling's soft underbelly you have to cut through a lot of body hair. No better tools for the job than tag teaming Norelco's T980 Vacuum Trimmer and Bodygroom shaver. The trimmer is great for the first broad strokes, the blades safely protected by the twist-control depth guides. A few passes and chest hair is reduced to a manageable quarter inch. Elsewhere the wiry thickets of gorse seeded by generations of my Scottish sharecropping ancestors, (now turning in their graves) is quickly sheared away. Weight weenies will be delighted to know the average hairy man can shed 7g of body hair. Over a 50km TT that can save half a second.

Now for the Bodygroom shaver. To get as smooth as a porpoise, the second implement is employed below the bibline. Calves, thighs and compact crank all get a careful treatment from this skin friendly appliance. Though it's rated for wet and dry use, I've found it to be more effective without soap or water. Forget your male enhancement pills, this little razor goes a LONG way, if you get my drift. For more details on usage and a history of bodygrooming visit Philips ShaveEveryWhere

Into the shower. Let's assume you're using something gentler and more fragrant than liquid Tide (ignoring the reviews that claim Tide HE is more aero). A good multi-blade razor and some body wash put the finishing touch on the legs below the knee. Done correctly the shine of polished calves can momentarily blind a wheelsucker long enough for a break away or signal a life flight helicopter in a real emergency. Remember, every couple of weeks you need to treat yourself to some kind of abrasive body scrub... it's all about exfoliation, or haven't you been listening to your wife explaining why it takes so long for her to get ready. She'll be waiting for you now.

Towel dry but don't reach for the bibs just yet. A good moisturizer is essential and nothing feels or smells better than Alba's Hawaiian Kukui Nut Cream. This step has the added benefit of preconditioning your baselayers with a pleasant smell and of course, you've all read the care labels and know you can't use fabric softener on technical fabrics. Apply liberally, but cyclists in the Western US be advised it may attract mountain lions and black bears. See note above about life flight; you'll be glad you shaved your legs.

Your face needs special attention to deal with all that sun and wind, particularly if your sprint tops out at more than 30 mph, the sea level threshold for wind burn according to Sheldon Brown. Neutrogena Triple Protect Lotion with SPF 20 followed by just a dab of Preparation H under each eye. Smooth in and you're finally ready to apply Chamois cream to your shorts. You are using genuine Swiss chamois cream?

Shorts on, now its time for some kind of embrocation, depending on leg coverage and temperature. All the freshly prepped skin is ready for a little heat. Head over to Belgium Knee Warmers for a good selection.

Slip on your heart rate monitor next using Buh Bump electrode cream instead of GU-infused saliva. At this point take a brief moment to collect your thoughts and decide if you need to make a trip to the lavatory. I can't stress enough how important this is.

Relieved (think weight weenies again) dress per normal: socks, baselayer, knee warmers, jersey, arm warmers, gilet, shoes, shoe covers, hat/head band, gloves, sunglasses, helmet etc. etc. Try to have your HRM close by, it's not unusual for your heart rate to spike dramatically during the layering up process. If your dressing room has a window take another minute to look outside and see if the weather has changed. It may have.

Post ride, basically reverse the process and get out of the wet kit ASAP, shower, reapply the Kukui Nut cream and finish your backside with a good coat (two would be better) of Boudreaux's butt paste, my personal favorite prevention and cure for road rash. This is a thick zinc oxide based paste more than it's a cream. If you remember the opening scene from Goldfinger just remember not to apply it to your entire body.

That was easy. In some future installment we'll cover recovery treatments, liniments, patches, Chinese endangered species balms etc. I wouldn't be telling you all this if I wasn't very comfortable and confident in my own skin, which I might add is glowing. Maybe I overdid the embrocation this morning.

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