This is perhaps the second most controversial topic right behind the mountain biking vs road riding one. I will not address the skinny vs. fat tire debate here due to the fact that I like both and the sauce applied from my views will most likely offend everyone.
So why do cyclists shave their legs? Good question and although simple in nature, it opens Pandora’s Box of complexities.
So here are some of the most common responses in order of legitimacy:
1. It’s Tradition! – this is the best one so use it as the final argument should you get in over your head. Sounds a bit like Reb Tevye / Fiddler On The Roof-ish, but you get it.
2. Helps Heal Road Rash– the argument here is that if you crash, the leg hairs may carry exotic diseases that the CDC has eradicated long ago and God forbid you should be the one bringing back small pox or the black plague. In this case, the host (that means you oh, un-shaved man) carries the risk of not only infecting themselves but has the potential for world wide epidemic which would be frowned upon by most – all through leg hairs.... interesting concept...hmmm
If the law of universal truth was applied to this argument, we would be shaving our arms, rears and other areas that are typically affected by road rash. Be prepared to go hairless should you chose this as your reasoning. I don’t think it’s a good one but you should be thorough and able to provide ample proof of your convictions. No eye brows either.
3. Team Masseuse – that is if you have one, which most of us don’t. This is the main reason pro riders shave their legs. Riders finish a stage or race and they roll directly to the team bus or hotel room where the masseuse applies a hand towel over their privates then takes over and works out the lactic acid; by the way, most of them (masseuse) are large men, so your Swedish fantasy can stop right now.
4. Aerodynamics – faulty argument here, since I don’t believe any wind tunnel testing has been done on fur… but it sounds somewhat legit.
5. It looks cool – perhaps the most honest answer but you risk being ridiculed and called homophobic names. If you want to argue about what looks cool check out the image below!
Ok, let me give you a few minutes to gather yourselves....
By now, you probably have made up your mind as to which camp you want to pledge your allegiance.
If you decide to keep the hair, there is not much more to talk about. Forge naturally on you beast!
Should you go hairless on the gams; a few pointers that should minimize embarrassment and insecurities as you step forth a new man.
First and foremost - make sure you are a hammer. At least make sure that you can drop your critics or potential critics. Actions speak louder than words, and this principle applies here in full measure. If you're slow, KEEP THE HAIR. Train harder then revisit the topic later on in the season.
Second most - make sure you have some vascularity; i.e muscle definition and veins. These typically go hand in hand, with veins typically appearing on the shins due to least amount of fat. From there you start getting some spider webs in the calves, which is cool, especially the main vein along your achilles. From here you enter the promised land that few even get a glimpse of; and that is veins in the Quads. This takes a ton of high intensity training and some serious mileage which lead you down a lonely path since you will have no life other than cycling.
I'm sure all of you have your views, so feel free to comment. Some of you are passionate about the topic so I do ask that you keep it clean and unoffensive. If you have a hard time keeping it within the lines, stop right now, read a book and learn how to diplomatically express yourself.
...ride forth aerodynamically....