So I got a little bit of a bashing from my cycling friend in Italy, I have been told that to be a “proper” cyclist I need to lose the hair on the legs. I am still trying to find a sensible reason as to why this needs to happen. I have been Googling as to why on earth would you do this and I have yet to find a bonefide reason. But in the interests of charity, I will be selling wax strips and for a small fee you can make me scream like a baby. All proceeds to MIND. This task is probably going to be harder than the ride !!! I just pulled out one hair and it hurt like a bitch, and I got a lot of em on my legs. (Pictures of the process will be posted here, along with before and afters)
Apparently these are the reasons from the pros !!
It Improves Your Aerodynamics on the Bike
The Theory: In this age of seamless skinsuits, aero frames, dimpled helmets, and ultralight deep-rim carbon wheels, it’s senseless to ignore the slight but real advantage of having bare legs.
(To wit, a 1987 study conducted by Chester Kyle concluded that the aerodynamic improvement is roughly 0.6 percent, which could result in a savings of around 5 seconds in a 40km time trial ridden at 37kph.) NB- I can’t ride at 37kph !!!!
The Reality: “It [the actual benefit] depends upon how hairy you are. I mean, look at the skinsuits of today. They fit really well, there are no seams, no grippers. So if all that makes a difference, then a lot of hair on your legs could slow you down.” —former pro Levi Leipheimer NB – I don’t own a “skinsuit” unless you count the one I was born in.
“Maybe at the most elite level of time-trialing. On a mountain bike: no way, not a bit.” —Multitime U.S. national mountain bike champion Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski
“In terms of actual aerodynamics [not much]. But I know that if I ever looked down while I was on the bike and saw hairy legs I immediately felt slower.” —Tour de France stage winner Davis Phinney
It Improves the Benefits and Pleasure of Massage
The Theory: Getting your hair pulled during massage hurts. A lot.
NB – I don’t have a masseuse at my disposal – any offers ?
The Reality: “It’s why I shave. It would hurt too much if I didn’t.” —Leipheimer
“You need more oil if you have a lot of hair. You don’t want to feel like an oiled pig.” —Giro d’Italia winner Andy Hampsten
NB – I am not sticking an apple in my mouth.
“Absolutely. It’s the number one reason I shave. I can’t imagine the pain of getting a full massage with hairy legs. I also think some of best massage techniques don’t involve much oil, so that makes having no hair even more important.” —Horgan-Kobelski
“It probably feels better shaved, but on a deeper muscular level there’s no difference. You can accomplish the exact same thing shaved or unshaved. I work on cyclists all year-round and even the pros go hairy in the winter.” —Certified massage therapist Chris Grauch
“I bet it’s nicer for the person giving the massage. Would you want to touch hairy legs?” —Multitime U.S. national cyclocross champion Todd Wells
It Makes Wound Care Easier and More Effective
The Theory: Cleaning and caring for road rash is simpler and yields speedier healing when there’s no leg hair present to impede the removal of dirt and grime, host bacteria, or complicate bandage changes.
The Reality: “I always thought crashing was the biggest reason. When you slide out on your bike, you take out big swaths of skin. Hair just collects dirt and is no fun to bandage.” —Phinney
“It also allows kinesio tape to stick better, which lots of cyclists are using these days.” —Horgan-Kobelski
It Just Looks Better—and That Makes You Faster
The Theory: Every cut and line of toned muscles pop when not obscured by a thicket of hair, and the snazzier you look the sharper you ride.
NB – I have stumpy fat legs and knobbly knees.
The Reality: “Absolutely. In your mind, having shaved legs makes you feel faster. I always shave before a time trial. You feel the wind flowing over your legs.” —RadioShack pro Chris Horner
Women Like Smooth-Legged Men
The Theory: Really, we just think our spouses and partners have been humoring us all this time.
NB – I doubt it – they just like seeing men endure what they do.
The Reality: Even when [my husband] Jeremy [Horgan-Kobelski] stops racing I want him to keep shaving. I think it’s hot. But I’m a racer, too. The majority of the female population probably disagrees.” —Pro mountain biker Heather Irmiger
The Theory: Losing the leg pelt is a sign that you’re committed to living your life with the noble aim of honoring what it means to be a true racing cyclist–plus, showing up hairy to a serious group ride is akin to wearing shorts to church.
The Reality: “Tradition is why everyone shaves the first time. If you’re a bike racer, that’s just what you do.” —Horner
“Leg shaving is an expression of being a cyclist.” —Horgan-Kobelski
“It always just seemed stupid to me.” —Multitime Leadville Trail 100 winner Dave Wiens
“It was the fashion when I raced. It’s the fashion now. Real bike riders shave their legs.” —Phinney
NB – nope none of these have convinced me – I don’t follow fashion.