Sunday, 26 June 2011

cycling conundrum number one

to shave or not to shave?

It is a perennial question and one that, in my experience seems to excite British people, in a pervy kind of way, quite a bit. Far more than anyone I’ve met in France. Maybe because more people ride a bike and so more (men)folk shave their legs and it doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary. And as many have observed before French people seem a bit more at ease in their own bodies than us more up tight Scots and Brits.

In answering the question I suppose we should debunk a few myths and pretences. It doesn’t make you go faster, if so why so many stubbly chins in the peloton? Though I have heard that some Australian riders have taken to shaving their arms. Even some rugby players are in on the act.

A masseuse once told me that it is easier to massage shaven legs. Great, but in all my time cycling I have had at most 5 leg massages from someone else. I have pressed my thumbs in my calves fairly regularly though can't speak with any certainty on the with or without hair question. But that may be down to technique or the lack of it.

I’m not sure about the idea that road rash is easier to clean when your legs are shaved. Surely hairs just grow back through the wound? I can’t help thinking that you have to be going pretty well on the bike to get away with it. For all those doubts I am sure that your legs look quite magnificent when shaved, sculpted even, muscles flexing beautifully showing each sinuous effort of the pedal stroke and even more so if you have a wee bit of a tan.
Another question remains unanswered though, whether you use depilatory cream, wet or electric; where do you stop?

Some help from David Millar in today’s Observer
‘I shave my legs twice a week. It’s hard the first time you do it. But I’m very lazy. For a team photo in December I just did the fronts.’

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