This is a topic commonly asked and talked about within cycling but do you actually know the reasoning behind it, or are you like myself and simply following the cult?
My Race season began last weekend at my home race The McCann Cup, I tried to race a few weeks prior to this and well I’m pretending that one didn’t happen. I got a fairly bad chest infection after doing a decent size training block over the Christmas holiday period then stupidly going on the lash new year’s eve and ended up getting sick for a good 5weeks. So, anyway before my first race, (actually my second) I spent a fairly long time in the shower shaving off my winter wool in order to blend in with my fellow cyclists. Also in an attempt to avoid the “fred” term being placed beside my name. (Fred is a derisive term used by “serious” road cyclists to describe other cyclists who do not conform to serious road cyclists’ norms with regard to dress and equipment, and appear amateurish to them.) I googled that and apparently the female version is a Doris, so there you go. Also please reframe from picturing me in the shower in an awkward position shaving my legs. It could have been in the bath actually, I can’t remember…
Well, I’d like to think I have some idea of why I shave my legs and I’m not just doing it because someone else is. Here’s a few pros and cons of having shaved legs.
I actually feel that it’s mostly about appearance. A body builder goes into a competition shaved oiled and in lean condition, I feel it’s a similar principle to road cycling, you get more respect on the road and can mental intimate riders by looking lean or in really good shape, having shaved legs can add to this affect. But doesn’t in anyway actually make you fitter. But sure we’ll do what the good guys do, I also like how it feels……
Unfortunately my wee legs aren’t as fast as I would like them to be, so like many other people I try to get marginal gains, whether that be ceramic bearings or aero helmets we’ve all tried a few. It has been proven in wind tunnels that shaving your legs can reduce drag by up to 8%......... whatever that means, if you want to go faster shave your legs and be a slippery snake. Again I just like how it feels.
A good mate of mine is on the Irish Track Squad, he’s one of the higher profile cyclists that I know, I definitely don’t take his word on everything ha; but he’s fairly handy on a bike so we’ll see what he has to say. Shout out to Pottzy
I Asked Marc the following question: why do you honestly shave your legs?
Marc’s response was similar to mine in that he was simply doing what everyone else was doing at the start. As he progressed in the sport he identify people who had shaved legs as being more experienced cyclists and in his own words, thought it looked stupid when they weren’t shaved. Right, fair enough.
This is all learning to me as well; another pal of mine who is a tidy Physio. Shout out to lorcy lad! He can give you a good rub and is also a decent triathlete. (Triathlete…………) Anyway, I thought it would be interesting to see what his opinion on giving leg rubs with or without hairy legs was, or even is there any benefit?
His response was “its way easier to do rubs due to less friction. It’s also cleaner and more hygienic as well. A massive difference also for patients as it’s not as painful getting hairs ripped out isn’t fun”. So if you’re into your leg rubs, do yourself a favour and shave your pins. I also read a blog about this one time, apparently if you have shaved legs and have a stubble the hairs can go under the physio’s nails and can often hurt. Something else to consider I guess.
I myself rarely get leg rubs but often use different forms off foam rollers. Even using this equipment you can get benefits from shaving your legs.
We’ve all at some stage in or humble cycling careers experienced road rash. Wounds will often have some form of grit, mud or unwanted substance stuck to it as you pick yourself off the road. Which innovatively will need cleaned. Hair free legs are both easier cleaned easier dressed but also a lot easier to remove old dressing with no hairs. So this is a big factor! Or a small one depending on how often you crash. I know a few peloton bunch bags who could definitely do with shaved legs.
Whether you agree or not, or simply don’t care, road racing is massively about style and fashion on a bike, sock length and all that crack.
Gaz insight: I raced with a guy in Belgium, he was an older dude and once held the national jersey for his country. He was a really strong cyclist. No harm to him though, he looked as good as my ole boy would look if he raced bikes and the only thing my Da races is the toaster against the kettle when he’s on his lunch break. For sure he had the physical ability to win races but when pro contracts came about he even admitted getting turned down was partly because of how he looked on a bike.
A small factor but say it comes down to 2 people getting a spot on a team, both having equal results, both having equal abilities, but one has their legs shaved and the other doesn’t. I’m telling you now they’ll pick the guy with slippery snake legs, image is important and that’s not be meaning shallow that’s just how it is.
That’s about all you’re going to get out of me on this topic unfortunately. I can’t process anymore words as I’ve just hit 1000. But all in this definitely doesn’t apply to every type of cyclist and sure as long as you’re out on your bike enjoying yourself who cares. It’s just a point of view. Like how some people pouch and egg and others fry them. Hmm is that a potential blog? Eggs.