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To Shave Or Not To Shave, By Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner

It’s one of the biggest questions in cycling … why do riders shave their legs? Lee ‘Hollywood’ Turner explores the prickly topic here.

So you’ve been riding for a while, a couple of your friends do it, but the rest say never. But still you harbour the thought of taking the next step on your quest to being a ‘real’ cyclist … and shaving your legs.

What are the real reasons cyclists shave their legs, what is the best way to do it and how often should you shave?

For the record, I shave my legs and have done so even before I started riding 20 plus years ago; I’m a big advocate for it. When I pull alongside another rider, and look down and see hairy legs, I joke and say “You know you can go 5kp/h faster if you shave them.”

I just can’t ride with others if they have hairy legs, I mean they are not serious so the conversation is not going to last long. Snobby? Yes … but you’ve got to stick to your guns and respect the culture of our sport.

I’ve had many friends come into cycling and vow to never, ever shave their legs. But, one by one, as they get more into it and take it more seriously, each and every one has shaved their legs and never looked back. 

What are the real reasons cyclists shave their legs? Lee Turner offers the answers in this, his latest column.

The real reason riders shave their legs?

1) If you crash and take skin off your legs you want them cleanly shaven for a lot less chance of getting an infection. If you have hair on your legs the dirt and puss can stick. The hairs can then become ingrown which will compound issues further. You will heal quicker if you are clean shaven too.

2) A lot of cyclists like to get leg massages, and if you’ve ever tried to have one with hairy legs, well it’s horrible. The hairs are tied in knots, and it hurts. If the legs are clean shaven the masseuses hands will glide over them beautifully. 

3) Clean shaven legs are aerodynamic – yes it’s absolutely minimal, but if you feel faster, you’ll go faster. 

4) The most important reason is because it LOOKS GOOD! Freshly shaved legs are the business. It shows you are committed, you take pride, and it illustrates you’re serious about the sport, lifestyle and hobby you love.

I’m so pedantic about it that when I broke both my wrists and was in plaster and couldn’t use either hand, I would ask my lovely partner Ali to hop in the shower with me and shave my legs. I felt disgusting and dirty with hair on my legs. Even though I couldn’t ride or do anything for eight weeks, I asked Ali to shave my pins each week so I could still at least feel like a cyclist.

Where To Stop? 

How high do you go? Everyone is different. So long as the parts that are exposed when you are wearing knicks are shaved, that’s the bare minimum. For me, I shave from my toes to my chest and everything in between. I just don’t shave my arms or underarms even though I know some people do. I like to be smooth all over.

Best Way To Shave

How do you do it? I’ve tried all the ways. If you’re taking the plunge for the first time, the best way is a hair removal product like Nair or the like. It’s super easy – all you need to do is coat it all over your legs, leave it on for approximately five minutes, then jump in the shower and watch the hair fall away. Once this is done, I recommend shaving once a week with a razor. Waxing is great and lasts a lot longer (4 weeks) but the problem with waxing is it has to grow out before you can re-wax. And that last week or two before you’re due to be waxed again, well your legs can look hairy. 

Also, another big reason is waxing hurts – I for one just couldn’t handle the pain. I used to wax for years, and it got to the point where I asked my waxer if I could go under a general anaesthetic to not feel anything. I found it excruciating and dreaded it every month. Finally, with waxing you can get painful ingrown hairs, which is just plain horrible. 

”…There’s nothing better than freshly shaved legs with light drizzle of oil on them to look all slick and shiny…”

Lee Turner

I’ve investigated laser hair removal but found it too expensive and time consuming as it requires many, many visits. I know you can buy your own, but again it’s too time consuming, it hurts, and takes too long.  

I have friends who use an electric razor which is quick and efficient but it’s just not 
as close as the trusty razor blade, so you’ll have to do it a 
lot more often.  

You really can’t beat a quality razor. Use the one from the women’s section of the supermarket or pharmacy – don’t use a men’s face razor as it’s not the right tool for the job. I like razors with built-in lubricant around the blade, this helps eliminate shaving cream. The only disadvantage is the strip is only good for two complete shaves and it’s not quite enough of a close shave like a basic women’s razor.

I’m consistent and like to shave every Friday so my legs are looking best for the weekend. There’s nothing better than freshly shaved legs with light drizzle of oil on them to look all slick and shiny. 

Please try it and report back to me – I’d love to know what you think!

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