BTCEB No 18, Don’t Shave Angry

Don't Shave Angry

Don't Shave Angry

I’ve been teaching myself how to shave with a straight edge razor. Dang tricky thing that. It lays somewhere between wheel building and learning how to tie a necktie but the consequences are closer to that of learning how to ride a bike off road.

Learning to shave with a sharpened piece of metal is a skill that requires a lot of concentration, and the willingness to make quite a few mistakes before you get it right.  Shaving with a straight edge has more in common with mechanical skills and riding off road than you may initially think.

First, it’s not something you are not going to master in a hurry.

I’ve never been a particularly good wheel builder partly because I do it so infrequently. I build a set of wheels a year, maybe. And as a result I almost totally forget everything I had learned from the last time I did it. As far as doing it fast enough so a shop owner or manager thinks they are getting their money out of me, it ain’t gonna happen.  When I slow down, I can do a good job but the more I rush things the more mistakes I make.

Also I used to use clip on neckties for years because I couldn’t figure out how to tie one myself.  If I remember correctly (which in itself is questionable) I found a necktie that my brother had left looped over a doorknob. I pulled the tie off the knob and eventually I was able to negotiate the intricate series of loops and twists in order to make it look nice.  It took a while and I will say that there are far less consequences if my tie looks a little off vs. when I gash my cheek with a razor blade or not tension a wheel properly.

If I tried to knot a tie quickly I’d wind up looking like Tom Waits or Peter Falk. While I will never be confused with either Daniel Craig or George Clooney at least I don’t look as if I spent the night sleeping in a dumpster.

I still crash my bike. Not as much as I used to but I still spend my share of time on the ground. After every crash I feel as if there is a clock that get’s reset and it simply become a matter of time before that clock eventually counts down to zero and I’m on my keister again.

When I fist started shaving with a straight edge my hand shook so badly that I was sure I was going to slice myself something fierce. Fortunately I escaped major injury but I did still need to do a lot of touch up work with my regular double bladed safety razor afterwards.

Don’t shave angry. Believe you me shaving while angry is a bad idea, especially with a straight razor.  The best you can hope for is a bad shave.

The worst-case scenario is that you wind up in the E.R. getting stitches in your face or wind up being a part of the permanent collection of the Mutter Medical Museum


Riding a mountain bike is kind of the same deal. It’s taken me years how to figure out how to shift and brake properly. Let me not forget that it also took a long time to learn where to shift my weight while riding so I don’t either flip over the handle bars while descending or winding up walking up steep hills when I spin out.

After riding off road for almost two decades I have a fairly good idea where my strengths and weakness are. The chances of my becoming a world-class mountain bike racer had evaporated a long time ago so it’s extremely unlikely that I’m ever going to win a World Cup race in any discipline.

Had I been frustrated when I’ve ridden? Sure. There’s been times it’s been so hot that I couldn’t prevent my heart from “red lining” and I practically burnt my hiney just sitting on my super heated vinyl seat. There I had been other times that I’ve been so cold that I couldn’t operate my brakes or shifters.

Just today I was riding through the park and my rear tire spun out on a wet patch and I fired my knee into the ground. Aggravating? Absolutely. But since I had to make a trailside repair afterwards I had plenty of time to cool down.

There are a number of trails that I’ve ridden multiple times that I’ve been repeatedly hung up on the same obstacle. Do I get a little anger that I’ve never been able to ride over a certain rock or root?


But maybe next I’ll make it and that’s the reward of mountain biking.

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