One nice thing about writing a blog called "Fat Cyclist" is you no longer have to worry about losing your dignity. Since you’ve kissed it goodbye as part of the blog’s premise, you’re free to do just about anything without worrying about embarassing yourself.
And so it is without hesitation that today I answer the question, "Why do cyclists shave their legs?" with "before" and "after" photographs. I suppose I could have also posted "during" photographs, but then I might have gotten comments to this post from distraught readers who had gouged out their eyes in an attempt to get the horrible, horrible vision out of their heads.
I think I made the right decision.
OK, So Why Do Cyclists Shave Their Legs, Then?
Well, there are several reasons most cyclists will give you. They will say that it makes them more aerodynamic, which would be a good reason…if it were true.
They will say they do it because it makes it easier to clean road rash out of their legs. To which I answer, if you’re so confident you’re going to be crashing, maybe you need to look into a different sport. Like chess, for example.
They will say they shave their legs because of tradition. This reason actually does have merit, but it’s tantamount to proclaiming that you’re a lemming.
There are two — and only two — real reasons cyclists shave their legs:
- Vanity: You’ve worked hard to get the legs you’ve got. Why hide them under a mat of hair?
- To impress other cyclists: Once you’re on the bike, there’s not much you can do to hide whether you’re the alpha rider or a domestique. But at least while you’re hanging out at the bike shop, shaved legs say, "I’ve joined the club; I’m a serious cyclist. I am so confident of my manliness that I can wear a bright jersey, tight lycra shorts, and have shaved legs without feeling ridiculous in public."
You see, when you shave, the hair that hides your muscle definition is gone, making it easier for you to admire those quads in the mirror, and for other cyclists to admire your calves on the bike. And since you’ve worked so hard to get those muscles, you feel it’s your right to show them off in all their glory.
Here. I’ll show you what I mean.
Here I am before shaving. If you look hard, you can see a hint of some quads, but mostly you just see big stumpy legs.
As you can see, I’ve got hair-o-plenty (except on the top of my head, where the hair’s becoming increasingly scarce). Before I could shave, I needed to mow down the tall grass with the electric clippers. What surprised me was the sheer volume of hair I had on my legs. I swear, the below picture is just of the clippings of my legs, not of a shorn llama.
It’s been some time since I regularly shaved my legs. During my hairy period, I seem to have forgotten how much time it takes. Even more, I had forgotten how much agility it takes to reach around and shave the back of your knees — all while fearing that you are about to hit a major artery.
Believe me, most middle age men do not want to be discovered dead in the shower with their legs half-shaved.
So — and I can say this only because I am the dignity-free Fat Cyclist — I asked my wife for help. She rolled her eyes, locked the bathroom door (this was definitely something I did not want the kids to see), and got to work. Two Mach 3 razor cartridges later, I was as smooth as can be.
You may be asking yourself right now, "So how high do cyclists shave themselves?" Or you may be really resenting that I articulated that question, because you had successfully avoided bringing that image to mind up to that point. Regardless, you shouldn’t look for an answer to that question here. If there’s consensus in the cycling world on where the "Do not cross this line" point is, I don’t know what it is. As for me, let me just say that I’d look verrrrry ridiculous in a Speedo right now.
OK, on to the "After" photo:
Well, whaddaya know. The Fat Cyclist actually had some big ol’ quads underneath all that hair. Though they still — alas — lack definition. And who do I gotta bribe to get some calf muscles?
And What About After?
The thing about shaving your legs is, it’s not just a one-time deal. You’ve made a commitment. Because once the hair starts growing back (about 4 hours, in my case), you’ve got to shave again — because male stubble is abrasive enough to scratch the paint right off a car.
So how long will this last? I dunno. Through the Leadville 100, at least. Gotta impress the fans.