Why Men Ride Bikes: Razors and Bags

Have you ever wondered why men take up cycling? I used to think it was because they wanted to stay fit, be sporty, or maybe use a mode of transportation that was better for the environment. But recently I’ve concluded that it’s really about leg shaving and the pursuit of the perfect bag.

When brevet season started this summer, Felkerino got really excited. I thought it was because he was looking forward to the group events and putting in some longer miles on the bike. When he gleefully informed me that he was going to shave his legs before the first brevet, I realized that the main reason for all his pre-ride energy was that he got to shave his legs. He defended his leg shaving by saying it was to keep his legs from getting gritty and full of bugs, but I think he just likes feeling those silky smooth cycling legs.

Felkerino and me, Harpers Ferry. Shaved legs, all.

Recently, Felkerino built up the latest addition to the Dining Room Bike Shop, a Rivendell SimpleOne. The build turned out beautifully, and I could tell after his first test ride that he was in love with the fit and look of this bike. But something was amiss. Felkerino originally affixed an Ostrich bag on the front rack, but after a couple of test rides he decided that the size of the bag did not suit him and he “needed” something else.

Felkerino and the Ostrich front bag

The next thing I knew, Felkerino was lost to the internet, obsessively questing for the perfect front bag for his SimpleOne. “This bag is too big. That one is too little. The one at this store is too black. This one doesn’t have enough pockets. This bag has too many pockets. Mary, what do you think about this bag? I’m in bag hell.”

After Felkerino resolved the quandry of the front bag, he turned his attention to the rear. Suddenly the Berthoud bag was too small. He tried a Carradice, but that was a little too big, not quite right for the SimpleOne. Another Ostrich bag later… now the bags are just right. For now, anyway.

Felkerino and the SimpleOne. Something is amiss in the bag universe.

All the sturm und drang Felkerino put himself through over a front bag perplexed me, but eventually I concluded that one of the reasons men take up cycling is to buy bags. It allows them to indulge the secret jealousy they harbour regarding all the great purses that surround them.

At first the bag-obsessing distressed me, until I realized that I could stroll into the Dining Room Bike Shop and use at least one of them for my own bag needs. I love this marriage!

Rear Ostrich bag for the SimpleOne

Felkerino isn’t the only leg-shaving, bag-obsessed male cyclist I know. Take a look around. You’ll see.

Some men who ride bikes love to shave their legs and obsess about bags. If you call them out about it they are sure to provide another reason for their cycling obsession (getting in shape, going car-free, etc.), but those are just by-products of the source of their real cycling enjoyment. It’s about the bags and the shaving.

Pay extra attention on your commute or, even better, a brevet start. And, if you are a male cyclist who is reading this blog in between your frenetic Carradice, Sackville, and Acorn bag internet searches, ruing the fact that you won’t need a razor for the winter months, give it some thought.

20 responses to “Why Men Ride Bikes: Razors and Bags

  1. Seems I can’t be a proper cyclist then. My bag is currently a plastic supermarket one held on the rear rack with a bungee. As for shaving my legs, well I hardly even shave my armpits…

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  2. ALMOST spit my coffee out my nose!! For the record, I’ve never shaved my legs. As for the bag thing…. guilty.

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  3. Poor Felkerino. He may end up on the Group W bench.

    And what’s with all the brake pads? OCD isn’t just for bags anymore.

    Oh, well, at least, Felkerino likes Elbow. Which, I suppose, begs the question, does he shave his arms too?

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    • Yeah, I’m not sure what the brake pads were about. But I will tell you this, I do need some new ones on my Surly LHT so keep it in mind if you see me riding toward you :).

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  4. Well, the bag just has to be the right color and size. It just has to be.

    The leg shaving is for the benefit of better massages; it’s easier on the massage therapist as well as the client. Cyclists who want to perform well get regular massages from an experienced, licensed massage therapist so they want it to be as easy as possible.

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  5. You are 100% correct.
    Women have their quest for the perfect bag/purse, so do men.
    I love bags.
    As I started looking at how they are made, I began to think, hmmm, maybe I can make one, so my sister in law bought me a machine for X-mas, from the thrift store for $35, and away I went.
    It’s fun!
    Thank you for you blog, I really enjoy reading it and seeing your images.
    Ely
    http://ruthworkssf.blogspot.com/

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  6. Since we are on the subject, perhaps you can come up with a term for these bag folks, in SF, we call folks who are into fancy groceries and restaurants, “foodies” perhaps we can call bike bag folks “baggies” or “baggers”?

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    • It’s a good idea… I will see if there is a potential term! By the way, Ely, I think your bags are great and have enjoyed seeing them on your blog as well as the flickrverse! I did not know it was a $35 sewing machine that got you started… cool!

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  7. Men shaving legs … I’ve heard various reasons for the last 40 years, including easier cleanup after road rash, aerodynamics, ease in applying sunscreen, etc. Personally I’ve never bothered. Now bags, yes, always the quest for something better.

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  8. Great article! I too am usually on the quest for the perfect bag(s). I have four bikes, so even when I find one, I still have other bikes to find one for- so it never ends! And that’s just the bags… As for leg shaving, I haven’t done it for a while, though I used to. For a while I dated this beautiful French woman who didn’t shave her legs, and it was during the period when I did shave mine. Boy did we get some funny looks! Maybe in the spring I should start up again…

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  9. As usual MG is very right about this.

    I’ll admit to the leg shaving — but I have perfectly practical reasons! Sunscreen, cleaning up, blah blah blah. But, I dislike keeping up with it. That’s why I quit around Labor Day.

    Bags — we are possibly in the Golden Age of Bike Bags. And they are a lot cheaper than a new bike!

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  10. I don’t think I’ll be shaving anytime soon (my beard probably speaks to my inclination to shave on a regular basis) – but I agree with the quest for a good bag (and well, if there was enough money I would be on quests for the perfect bikes too).

    Right now I don’t think anything would make me happier than my Acorn Boxy Rando bag up front… in the back I am not settled yet on the perfect combination of capacity, appearance, etc. etc.

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  11. Shaving has its pros and cons. The perfect bag doesn’t exist. You have to make it and keep modifying it with add-ons as the brevets get longer. Hugs to you MG and all the men that shave down during the season. haha! …sorry if you don’t know me.

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  12. Thanks to everybody for their comments… Oh, and note: this blog does not discriminate between leg-shavers and non-shavers of legs (previously wrote non-leg shavers, but that makes no sense!) :)!! Ride on, my friends.

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  13. Ha Ha! 4 Carradice, 1 Gilles Berthoud, shaved legs…I’ m in :)

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  14. Pingback: Third Day of Randonneurmas: Fancy Bicycle Bags « The Daily Randonneur

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