Saturday, October 30

Cycling: Shaving Legs

Non-cyclists frequently ask cyclists, why the heck do you shave your legs? Because even at the amateur levels at which I race, almost to a man, all shave their legs at least 2 times a week. Here are some reasons:
  • The Pro's get a deep muscle massage concentrating on the legs after every hard workout (perhaps every day). Training for cycling is all about recovery. You can't train hard every day. You have to train hard when you are fresh. Then you gain strength and endurance while you recover. When you've recovered, repeat. If you can recover faster, voila you can get better. At any rate, applying oils and being massaged is much better on shaved skin.
  • Care of wounds is easier on shaved skin. And it is damn painful to shave skin that is abraided. Road rash, the term for the most common "crash" injury, is an abraided burn which can vary in depth and severity. Commonly they can cover a large area (16-36 inches square is not unusual). They take a few weeks to heal. Shaving ahead of time makes care and feeding of the wound easier.
  • Applying sun-screen is much easier. Hairy legs suck up way more sun-screen and is much more difficult than on shaved legs.
  • After all that training, almost all exclusively on the legs, we want to show them off. Unlike the massive striated muscles of the body-builder, cyclists legs are lean but well defined.
  • And for the amateur, we shave because, well hell, the Pro's we try to emulate do it.
As for me, I shave my legs, because "cyclists shave their legs". I'm a cyclist. I'm proud of it. I put in way too many hours on a bike not to be. It's just something we do. I'm glad we don't shave our heads, wear funny clothes (oh I forgot, we do that!), or something really asocial.