Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs?
Even though I said I never would, I shaved my legs last night.
But why? What happened? Why do any cyclists shave their legs?
Well, there are a variety of stock answers to this question; all of them bullshit for anyone who isn’t a top-level professional cyclist.
Bullshit reason #1: Shaved legs are better for crashing.
Come on! The most important reason to shave your legs as a cyclist is because it’s better for crashes?! Bullshit!
While this is probably true, it isn’t very relevant. I’ve crashed twice so far this season. Both times I’ve gotten road rash. And both times I’ve road-rashed my legs. But the vast majority of road rash I’ve gotten has been on my shoulders and arms. The fact that I had hairy legs didn’t really affect me whatsoever. I was a little more worried about the hole in my arm.
You would have to get a hell-of-a-lot or road rash on your legs on a fairly regular basis to make shaving your legs worthwhile (enough that you wouldn’t be doing much riding). And at that point, why not go ahead and shave your arms too, since they’re every bit as likely to get road rash.
Also, I’m a little uncomfortable admitting to myself or anyone else that I’m going to crash. I’d rather just be surprised when it happens – not fucking plan for it.
The reason cyclists mislead people with Bullshit Reason # is of course because it makes them sound tough.
I crash all the time, the cyclist seems to be implying. I ain’t no fag!
Well. Speaking of being comfortably with one’s sexuality,
Bullshit Reason #2: Massage
Professional cyclists, at least the fast ones, have soigneurs. a soigneur’s job, among other things, is to massage the riders’ legs. Obviously having shaved legs is helpful, if not practically necessary, in this instance.
For those of you with a soigneur, my hat is off to you. For the rest of you, this excuse is bullshit and you might as well not use it.
The sad reality is that practically every male cyclist shaves his legs for two reasons (which incidentally happen to be the same reasons women shave their legs):
Actual Reason #1: Peer pressure
This is why I have shaved my legs in the past and, I’m ashamed to admit, why I shaved my legs again. All of the cyclists that I ride with and occasionally race against shave their legs. These cyclists have developed a system of informal social sanctions to ostracize anyone who challenges their mores. Here I am being ostracized for my hairy legs:
Ironically, since I have skin-colored leg hair, it’s impossible to see from this distance. Here’s a closeup:
Note the contrast between my legs and Bissel Pro cyclist Sheldon Deeny. It’s Deeny’s twofold responsibility as a pro cyclist to berate noncompliant amateurs like me, and to keep his legs beautiful (I asked; he shaves every four days).
Which brings us to
Actual Reason #2: Shaving your legs is oh-so-sexy.
There is a widespread acceptance among the non-biased-Wikipedia-editors segment of Western Society that leg shaving enhances womens’ beauty. But can leg shaving make men sexy too?
To illustrate this, I offer you a homoerotic leg-shaving montage.
Eventually, the dudes ran out of steam and the photographer was recruited to do the “edge trimming.”
And I was finally left to finish the job on my own.
Look at them beauties!
Well, the process may not be attractive, but who can argue with the results?
I’ll do my best to crash my bike or get a massage from an old Ukranian sognieur and report how much better it was with shaved legs.
Until then, I’m going to go pose in the mirror while wearing a speedo and then walk around town self-consciously in shorts.