Leg-Shaving Advice for Cyclists

03.5.2008 | 6:55 am

A Note from Fatty: I’ve got a new article in BikeRadar today. You can read a snippet below, or click here to read the whole thing.

As a cycling aficionado, you no are no doubt anxious to demonstrate your commitment to the sport, even when you are not on the bike. “But how,” I hear you ask, “can I show my absolute dedication to the cycling lifestyle, hopefully to the extent that my family, friends, and coworkers will begin to cast sidelong glances at me and eventually take me aside and tell me they’re worried about the direction my life seems to be heading?”

The simplest and most obvious way to make it clear to all and sundry that you love biking beyond all rational reason is to wear a helmet, 24 hours a day. Nothing says, “I am always ready for a ride’ like wearing a helmet to a business meeting, to church, or to an exclusive restaurant. Inexplicably, however, this is frowned upon in polite society.

The next-best way to visibly demonstrate your alignment with the cycling lifestyle, then, is to wear full pro kit everywhere you go. This has its own pitfalls, alas. Namely, pro team sponsors have such a rapid turnover rate nowadays that the US$380 outfit you bought today is promoting a team that may well be defunct or disgraced next week. Which brings up a question: would anybody like to buy my 2005 Phonak, 2006 T-Mobile, or 2007 Astana jerseys? Cheap. Hardly ever worn.

Deprived of these options, then, how can you show your undying love for cycling?

By shaving your legs, of course.

By shaving your legs, you are stating, unequivocally, that you are willing to spend an extra five minutes every other day with a razor, just so you can look like other cyclists. It’s like getting a tattoo that way, except you don’t have to re-get the tattoo three times per week.

Answering the “Why?” Question
By shaving your legs, you open yourself up to the question, “why do you shave your legs?” This is an incredibly good thing, because the answers are invariably self-flattering. For example:

Click here to continue reading “Leg-Shaving Advice for Cyclists” over at BikeRadar.com.

PS: Here’s a cool piece of news: I’ve been asked to write a monthly column for Cycling Plus, a print magazine in the UK, published by FutureNet — the same company that owns BikeRadar.com and CyclingNews. I wonder if I can get them to give me a free subscription, since I can’t afford to buy one ($98 / yr in the US).

PPS: While I was on the plane to Houston, the doctor’s office called and left a message that the MRI shows my left wrist hurts because of a torn tendon and cartilage damage and that I should call them back; they’re putting together a referral with a hand surgeon. More details after I call them today.


  1. Comment by Mike | 03.5.2008 | 7:15 am

    Unrelated question:

    Anyone have a good link to coverage of Paris-Nice? There’s minimal coverage on VS and I really enjoyed the full feed that Amgen ToC had…

  2. Comment by Don (http://cyclingphun.blogspot.com) | 03.5.2008 | 7:25 am

    This is good Fatty. I especially like the turning around to shave your calves and the popping and such, likewise the shaving ankles and knees stuff was a riot.

  3. Comment by Jeremy | 03.5.2008 | 7:49 am

    I think you should RIDE to the Dr’s office. That way he sees the inflamed result.

  4. Comment by db | 03.5.2008 | 7:53 am

    Gosh, you didn’t address the NADS system. Maybe the Aussies can weigh in on this method…

  5. Comment by DNAtsol | 03.5.2008 | 7:54 am

    With the benefits you describe I’m surprised more men over 40 do not shave their bodies. Especially if you’re like myself, with my post 40 paunch.

    My flab would have the velvety smooth texture of clarified butter. I would have improved fine motor dexterity from constantly having to pull up that flap of flab over the belly button to see if I got every last hair. I’d develop incredible flexibility as I twisted and turned to try and get that last darn stray hair in the middle of my back that is so stiff and isolated I start to wonder if I’ve gone through space transporter with a fly.

    Yes this shaving thing has great health and fitness benefits on it’s own merits for the more “elderly statesmen” in the crowd.

    Had a good larf with this one FC

  6. Comment by chtrich | 03.5.2008 | 8:15 am

    Wo-Hoo!! I was the first one to guess a pulled tendon. Pulled – torn, it’s just semantics.
    I’d like a XL size please.
    And as a bonus you don’t even have to worry about shipping it out. Just let me know when I can stop by and pick it up.
    I hope it heals soon.

  7. Comment by Al Maviva | 03.5.2008 | 8:31 am

    Yeah, leg shaving is one of those conformist sheep-like things. The same kind of people who shave their legs also don’t half-wheel, sit up mid-pull, change lines in the corner in a technical crit, hit the brakes hard before said corner, or wear team jerseys they haven’t earned, and they all use identical hand signals on rides. Loooozzzers.

    You’ll find that people who do serious road riding who don’t shave their legs get treated with an extra measure of respect in races and hard group rides. Nobody will ride near them, nobody will ride behind them, and if they slip off the back, the pack will let them enjoy their solitude in quiet dignity, by riding away from the Presumed Human Hand Grenade as quickly as possible. Out of respect, of course.

    Hey, here’s a leg shaving question for you. You know how some guys do the permanent laser hair depilation thing, to get permanently ’shaved’ legs? What do you make of a MTB racer who gets the depilation on his entire body, *except* for his legs, on which he leaves The Full Wookie, as a statement of non-conformity? I ride with a guy who fits that description, and I really don’t know what to make of him.

  8. Comment by Frank | 03.5.2008 | 8:56 am

    BAR SOAP? Are you kidding? Bar soap leaves your legs dry and ashy lookin. If your’re going to spend the cash on multiple bladed razors (which aren’t cheap), then for Godsakes buy the Gillette Ultra Moisturizing, Ultra-Hydratant gel to go with them. They come in different varieties and have a minty fresh smell.

  9. Comment by Yeagermeister | 03.5.2008 | 8:59 am

    It’s also important to shave all winter, because serious, leg-shaving cyclists still get weekly massages (at a minimum) in the winter.

    Another note… you know that part of the Nair directions that says “test on a small area”? Yeah, I skipped that part, too. OUCH.

    A friend of mine used to skip shaving his ankles at the point where the sock tan ended… I haven’t seen his ankles without socks in a looooong time. You still do that, Low E???

  10. Comment by fatty | 03.5.2008 | 8:59 am

    al – i’d recommend looking into whether he has a record. and i don’t mean on itunes.

  11. Comment by Big Bird | 03.5.2008 | 9:10 am

    Aerodynamics? Massage? Road rash? Herd mentality?


    I shave my legs because it makes me look sexy.

  12. Comment by Lowrydr | 03.5.2008 | 9:16 am

    My wife shaves my legs and I shave hers. It’s the best way to share the shower.

  13. Comment by Bluenoser | 03.5.2008 | 9:27 am

    It lets you in the clubhouse door. Try Shave DeLux it is great.


  14. Comment by Orbea Girl | 03.5.2008 | 9:36 am

    Lowrydr: I too shave my husband’s legs but I can definitely think of better (and more fun) ways to share a shower.

    Mike: Check out the links for Paris-Nice on http://www.cyclingfans.com. As well as cycling.tv, I think Eurosport may have live streaming of the race on its website.

  15. Comment by KT | 03.5.2008 | 9:49 am

    Bar soap? Sigh. You are such a guy.

    And minty fresh shaving gel? That’s for faces. Sheesh.

    Try shopping in the women’s section of the soap aisle for your shaving needs. We have the best moisturizing shaving creams. I like the one that smells like honeysuckle.

    I don’t shave my boyfriend’s legs. He tried Nair once (BTW, Fatty, you’re only supposed to leave it on 4 minutes… not 20) and the results were fabulous… until he started to get stubble several days later. I do not like the stubble.

    I’m in agreement with Orbea Girl. Save water, shower with a friend!

  16. Comment by Fish | 03.5.2008 | 10:26 am

    I’ve got my own theory – it’s that hair sticking out of lycra just looks bad. So we shave to avoid that, and then finish it up to avoid the opposite of the hair boxers.

  17. Comment by TIMK | 03.5.2008 | 10:27 am

    I thought it was so people could see the cycling-related tattoo on your calf or ankle more clearly.

  18. Comment by Rocky | 03.5.2008 | 10:33 am

    See, I told you that you hurt your hand – that was my official diagnosis. No doubt it’s repetitive motion-related, likely due to the leg shaving.

  19. Comment by Bob | 03.5.2008 | 10:34 am

    Six non-biodegradable razors a week! Wasting extra water while shaving in the shower! Empty plastic Nair and shower gel bottles! You should all be ashamed of the environmental footprint you are leaving.

    You should instead, only pluck your body hair and then save the hairs until they can be woven into a nice throw rug.

  20. Comment by Sprocketboy | 03.5.2008 | 10:53 am

    When I joined my racing club, the saying was: “We are racers. We wear bib shorts. We shave our legs.” After some trepidation I did the deed–which took me a lot longer than I expected–and it felt pretty good in the summer heat. Oddly, two women I knew who were pretty grossed out by the idea of men shaving their legs changed their minds when they saw mine. No offers to save water by joint showering, alas.

    When getting ready to ride up the Alp d’Huez, I realized I needed to shave me legs to look properly professional in the photos and I had to buy a pack of disposable razors from a French drugstore. Do not, under any circumstances, shave your legs with disposable razors. I think I used four of them, and the bleeding did not show up in the photos, luckily.

    For a very funny account of leg shaving, read Tim Moore’s “French Revolutions.” He went to a beauty salon and got waxed. Brave man.

  21. Comment by Alex Esplin | 03.5.2008 | 11:07 am

    Nice one. My family asks me all the time why I shave my legs in the summer time. I simply point to the remnants of a big gnarly scar that was a small-ish dirt rash from mountain biking, until all the hair on my legs got matted into it and it got infected.

    Also, shaved legs prevent your socks from sliding down when you wear long socks.

  22. Comment by Willie Nelson | 03.5.2008 | 12:13 pm

    Amen. Infections from hairy road rash are truly horrible.

  23. Comment by Mike Roadie | 03.5.2008 | 12:54 pm

    The best! Makes me say, “Ouch!!”, just thinking about it!

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 03.5.2008 | 1:55 pm

    For a very funny account of leg shaving, read Tim Moore’s “French Revolutions.” He went to a beauty salon and got waxed. Brave man.

    For a very funny account, period. This book – a Geo. Plimtonesque ride of the TDF route by a previously non-cyclist is very, very funny.

  25. Comment by Born4Lycra | 03.5.2008 | 1:59 pm

    News is reasonable on the wrist front then. Painful and fixable. Take an aspirin and lie down.
    Sounds like I am genetically correct for cycling as I have very little hair on my legs and it gets less as I get older. My body appears to be concentrating on my ears and nose.

  26. Comment by CoinDante | 03.5.2008 | 2:52 pm

    Real men Wax.

  27. Comment by graisseux | 03.5.2008 | 3:16 pm

    My wife’s talking about buying a waxing pot. I might have to try it out. I hear the hair grows back a little softer–not so prickly. Although, I’d be more likely to use it for some tasty fondue. The pot, not the wax.

  28. Comment by Hoggy | 03.5.2008 | 5:00 pm

    The first time I shaved my legs, my wife was very humoured by the whole thing and when quizzed I dutifily gave the same reasons as you FC. Later that night when we when we got to bed my wife made the comment…”ohh its like sleeping with a girl” to which I replied “excellent can I watch”!

    she still gives me crap about it but I tell her I’m a cyclist, its what we do.

  29. Comment by KanyonKris | 03.5.2008 | 6:43 pm

    Good read and fresh spin on a topic you addressed before. I like your previous conclusion that leg shaving is all about vanity – showing off those defined legs that took so much work, and impressing other cyclists that you are indeed a REAL cyclist.

    No leg shaving for me – I’m a mountain biker first, roadie second. And if I’m on the road bike and other roadies snobbishly object to my unshorn legs, I care not – that’s their problem. Cliqueishness is a tell-tale sign of a closed mind.

  30. Comment by wing-nut | 03.6.2008 | 5:13 am

    I believe that I read it here before and love this answer….It is a sort of tribal ritual. The folks who know I ride consider me on the fringe already because of all the painful opportunities riding creates. To tell them that it is a part of riding barely raises an eyebrow.

  31. Comment by RICK | 03.6.2008 | 11:36 am

    step by steps on how to
    shave like a man:

    or you can wax like a man: http://racinrick.blogspot.com/2007/06/how-to-wax-like-man.html

  32. Comment by Andrew J. Bernstein | 03.8.2008 | 8:57 am


  33. Comment by Andrew J. Bernstein | 03.8.2008 | 8:57 am

    Fatty: You forgot about waxing!


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