Sensory Overload — The Shave
Our largest organ is also a finely tuned sensory magnet. Skin is amazing.
It can process sunlight into vitamin D. It respires, perspires and protects against all sorts of creepy crawly germs from entering the body.
When shaved, a large tract of skin is wondrous.
I’ve been shaving my legs since I was 14. Not every week, not even most of the time. I shave when I’m riding regularly or when there is a big race. No shaving during the winter and there was a lost decade in my 20s when I didn’t shave at all. But, ever since the first time I shaved for a championship swim meet, I’ve known the glory of freshly shaved legs. They tingle, they tickle, they slide and they reward.
The best feeling immediately after a shave must be to dive into water. There is a rush past every curve, edge and corner of newly sensitized skin, the water pressure — barely more than air pressure but enough that it is sensed, the feeling of legs passing over each other — skin on skin — as I kick, it is all simply amazing.
Pulling on a pair of jeans or slipping into a bed with crisp sheets, these too are favorite experiences post-shave but they rank a distant second or third.
Cyclists and triathletes shave, but it is more of a preventative measure than swimmers. Swimmers will shave to purposely remove those top layers of skin and create that effervescent sensation. Cyclists shave so that when the inevitable fall and consequent road rash appears, it is easier to tend and heal the wound. There is no stray hair hanging around to mess with the bandages or to serve as a means for germs and bacteria to muck things up.
I rode without tights today. It had been two weeks since I tended to my legs and the hair was plainly visible. As a result, when the wind kicked up there was no reward. The air simply moved over my body — it didn’t send a message straight through countless nerve endings to shout into my brain, “You Are Alive And Can Feel It.”
Triathletes are some of the biggest gear wonks I know. I’m sure that people into model airplanes or gardening or other hobbies can really get into their gear too. But I bet none of them revere the reaction they get from a piece of gear like I do from a razor.
A nice shave is that good.