As cyclists we’re a lucky bunch, not only do we get to enjoy the fitness benefits of regular aerobic exercise but we’ve also chosen to be involved in a sport with a sub-culture all of its own: café stops are unique to cycling (you don’t see many swimmers or runners in the cafés round here); we have a language all of our own – words like “bonk” don’t get used very often in non-cycling circles; and finally, how many men would have experienced having shaved legs if they hadn’t been involved in cycling?
Leg shaving is, as far as I can see, a major part of cycling’s sub-culture. In everyday life, a bloke with shaved legs would be considered as at least a bit camp and lacking in masculinity: in cycling, having shaved legs is a sign of dedication, a stamp that says you are a “proper” cyclist, not to be messed with and thus conversely, a sign of masculinity.
When you first start cycling it’s normal to think that you’ll never end up shaving your legs, but as the months go by and you start meeting more and more cyclists, your will to remain hirsute slowly ebbs away as you start thinking that actually, lycra and hair are a bad combination.
The consequence is, or at least was in my case, that you spend the evening before your first race locked in the bathroom with a packet of disposable razors, and you spend the rest of the night applying tissue to the resulting wounds.
There’s actually no real point in shaving one’s legs other than vanity. The usual reasons of aerodynamics, easier to clean a wound after a crash, and easier to massage are all just excuses dreamt up to reassure colleagues/friends/family members that you’re not actually gay. That’s what I say anyway.
So, assuming that you are sufficiently vain, ahem, I mean, you are a sufficiently committed cyclist, what’s the best way to get rid of unwanted hairiness?
Well, the first step is to lock the bathroom door, run a warm tub with your favourite foaming bath, light some candles, take out your copy of ‘Hello’ and… oh, sorry, wrong website.
Actually most cyclists stick to the tried and tested razor and shaving foam method, as kindly demonstrated here by a mystery guest star. This is cheap, easy (as most blokes have to shave their faces anyway) and produces good results.
Experience has shown us that the Gillette Mach 3, as well as doing a good job on chins, is also pretty good on legs, the bendy head adapting well to the contours of knees and ankles, minimising the chance of nicking yourself.
In terms of lubrication, Maria recommends shaving or baby oil in the bath, which probably does work quite well. Carole Smiley apparently uses E45 cream (I read it somewhere) and I have never found any reason to use anything other than shaving foam, soap being a cheap and less effective alternative.
Although it’s tempting not to use anything to help the blades glide over the skin, especially if you’re in the bath, you’ll get much worse results without some sort of soapy barrier and your skin will be a lot itchier afterwards. So let common sense rule over your innate masculine toughness.
Talking of afterwards, rubbing some moisturiser or baby lotion in to your skin after shaving not only helps moisturise your skin, but also gives you the opportunity of giving yourself a relaxing massage…
There are plenty of other ways of removing unwanted hair, some of which I’ve tried, in the interests of research of course, others of which I’m yet to try:
Hair removal cream £3-7 – I’ve tried different brands on a number of occasions and they have all been thoroughly useless [and they stink to high heaven. Ed].
Waxing about £5 per tub – I once used Wax Strips from Superdrug and they were ok, although not as foolproof as shaving. They weren’t as painful as expected but they were relatively expensive. Regular wax should be more efficient than the strips but is probably messier and more difficult to do by yourself.
Sugaring about £5 per tub– As recommended by Maria; apparently it’s like waxing, but uses a sugar solution instead of wax so it’s easier to clean up afterwards and less painful if you make a mistake. Like waxing you use a small amount of warm liquid and spread it over a small area of the leg, then use a strip of cotton (bought separately but reusable) to place and smooth over the wax leaving the end quarter inch clean, then pull back the strip sharply and quickly in the opposite direction to hair growth. It might tingle…
Depilation £30 – 40 – Flick through the Argos catalogue and you will see these devices alongside the electric ladyshavers: they’re essentially electronic tweezers that pluck your legs bare. As the hairs are being pulled out from the root re-growth should be less than with shaving but don’t expect the process to be pain free. That said, females assure me that if you wax a few times and then use on of these to ‘keep on top’ of the re-growth it’s less painful, quicker, cleaner and in the long term, cheaper. We recommend buying online to avoid embarrassment.
Silky mitts about £2 for three- The ‘silky’ refers to how your legs should feel after using this mitt, which is effectively sandpaper for legs. Best use is for keeping re-growth / stubble at bay. Apparently. Only for those seriously dedicated to smoothness, we recommend you leave this one to your better half or next you’ll be reaching for the fake tan…
So, that’s how to get rid of hair, but where to stop? As Raggy asked on the forum recently, “…just above the short line or all the way up to the shoulders?”
This is a question that only you and your significant other can answer: it’s possible that some women like the “hairy shorts” look and in that case you’d be wise to stop just above the point where your shorts end; other (most) women will concede that if their man has to shave his legs, he’ll look less ridiculous if he shaves all the way up the thigh.
Around the back one final problem arises – that of the hairy backside, perched atop hair free legs. Unless you spend a lot of time naked in public, or admiring your @rse in the mirror, it really isn’t worth getting too hung up on this aesthetic anomaly. Seriously, the itchiness of a shaved bum would be unbearable – don’t try it!
Got any funny leg shaving stories? Let us know on the forum – funniest story wins a new razor and some shaving foam, or a tub of wax, whichever you prefer…