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As has been determined, I ride a bike. However, as I've determined, I'm not a member of the "biking community."

It's not their fault. I mean, they seem like very welcoming people, as near as I can tell. I don't think there's a secret handshake or anything, and I don't think I'd have to pay any dues to join.

And when it comes to athletic organizations, I tend to echo Groucho Marx in declining because I wouldn't be a member of any club that would have me as a member. But that's not exactly the reason I haven't full-on embraced "bike life." Actually, it's pretty simple.

I don't want to shave my legs.

OK, I realize I'm being sweepingly, almost criminally general here. I'm sure there are plenty of committed bike riders in Northwest Arkansas who aren't trying to make sure they don't nick their kneecaps.

But as I wobble the bike paths of our area, one of the things I notice most about other bikers is that they're passing me like I'm sitting still. Oh, yeah, and that they shave their legs.

As I understand it, bikers shaving their legs is a pretty time- and razorblade manufacturer-honored tradition. So much so that when asked, riders will start off with all sorts of good reasons, like it helps them go faster, makes treating wounds easier or a post-ride massage more comfortable. They fall back on the scientifically based, "it's just what real bike riders do."

That's hard to argue with, unless you want to go all parent on them and ask, "If all the other bike riders rode off a cliff, would you ride off, too?" Which is an easier line to drop until you realize that, since you tend to follow the pack without thinking about things too much, yeah, you probably would. I mean, I rode off in a ditch all by myself one time, so ...

Why, exactly, I haven't embraced what seems like an age-old if hard-to-explain tradition, I'm not sure. Except that I'm pretty confident all the wild promises about the practice are, at least in my case, so much hairless snake oil. OK, I know. Snakes don't have hair. I'm being illustrative. Just go with it.

I mean, I'm willing to at least consider the injury care part. I'm not exactly a "rub a little dirt on it" kind of guy when it comes to wound treatment, so anything that's going to make that easier typically has my full-throated (when I'm not screaming) support.

It's just that anyone who has ever seen the knife fight aftermath of my face after a morning shave can probably imagine that bringing a whole lot of less readily accessible territory into play isn't going to produce much better results, per square inch. So that may very well be a case of a cure being a whole lot worse than the disease.

I am, however, all in favor of comfort as it pertains to my bike riding. That's why while I won't shave my legs, I will wear those spandex bike shorts with the padding in them that makes you feel like your diaper is full.

Hey, I ride really early in the morning, so, you're probably safe.

I would like to go faster. However, I'm pretty sure that, of all the things involving my legs that could be impacting that, the hair on them is probably pretty far down the list. Frankly, I could shave my entire body and wear a jet pack and I don't think much is going to change.

The reality is, I don't shave my legs because, well, I just don't want to. I'm not judging those who do. I'm just owning the fact I'm just not willing to take on the level of commitment and maintenance that sort of thing implies.

And to be honest, I think I'm OK here. I might not get invited to sit at the Cool Table (mostly because, in this case, the "Cool Table" blew by at about 25 miles an hour). But I've found over the years that the definition of a "community" is pretty elastic.

For instance, it can include incredibly committed bikers who ride hundreds of miles a month. Or it can be you and your buddies or your family out enjoying the weather. Up to you. Get as far into the water as you want, and don't worry so much about the condition of your legs when you go.

And if you're looking to start a biker argument and leg shaving won't do it, here are two words for you: short socks.

Commentary on 04/07/2017

Print Headline: Stifled by stubble

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