Wednesday, June 22, 2005

On Shaving Your Legs

Last Saturday I leaped into the world of hairless legs. Yes, I shaved my legs, and yes, I am now one of those cyclists that has taken his sport far enough to justify the constant upkeep of smooth, hair-free legs. This is the second time I've done this, yet this time I am planning on keeping these puppies hair-free until winter sets in and I once again am forced to wear pants. Each time I've taken a Mach 3 to my legs, I've received confused looks and questions from friends and families. It's not really much of a secret why cyclists shave their legs, it's more that few of them have bothered to fully explain themselves. Here I will do just that.

Why do cyclists shave their legs?

Practicality: Cyclists are constantly at risk of falling, be it by their own doing or the doing of a thick-skulled driver or pedestrian. Has anyone seen what pavement can do to flesh, especially while you slide across it at 30 mph? Yes, that god-awful grinding off of skin is called "road rash," and it is made particularly worse and significantly harder to deal with when you have the usual hair on the legs. Additionally, the dirt and grime that is commonly associated with biking comes off much more easily when you don't have leg hair to deal with. Whoever started that retarded rumor that cyclists shave their legs because it makes them more aero-dynamic should be lined up and shot. Leg hair does not, to my knowledge, do much by way of creating more wind resistance while you ride. Well, maybe it would if you were really hairy (think Grizzly Bear-like), but spare that unfortunate condition, losing leg hair will not make you a faster rider.

Vanity: Cyclists are, by and large, a vain bunch. We spend way too much time considering what we're going to wear on a ride. While much of this boils down to technical considerations, notice how cyclists who take their riding seriously tend to coordinate everything -- from bike frames to socks to jerseys to helmets and sunglasses. This is no coincidence. Cyclists like looking good, especially if they know they have the bodies to do so. Hence the leg-shaving serves another, much less practical purpose -- it looks good. As odd as that sounds, a shorn leg tends to look slimmer and lighter than a hairy one, and muscles and veins that characterize many cyclists legs are significantly more obvious without hair distracting one's view. Trust me on this one. I don't have cyclists legs, yet even I thought I looked a little better when I got rid of the hair. The feel of freshly shaved legs, especially the first time, is also shockingly refreshing. You realize how sensitive the skin along your legs is to pants, sheets, and wind, and...well, screw the other reasons, it just looks hot.

I'm happy to have cleared that up. The obvious downside is that I am spending much more money on razors than I used to, but I'm only going to keep this up for another few months.


At 2:32 PM, Blogger K said...

Good god Martin, you introduce your blog to the DCist crew with the leg shaving post as the top item? Brave man you, brave man.


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