Did you ever see that commercial that had this actor who used to be on one of those hospital shows? It was from some pharmaceutical company, and the actor would start by saying, “I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV.” Then he would go ahead and tell you why you should take this pill that cured male pattern baldness, or excess stomach acid, or fear of iguanas (also known as “reptile dysfunction”). Just because this guy didn't even take inorganic chemistry is no reason that we should not listen to his advice regarding the alleviation of our persistent dyspepsia.
This is the long answer for why I usually shave my legs. I’m not a bicycle racer, and I don’t play one on TV, but I like to at least look fast when I'm standing around in bike shorts.
Sure, I’ve used the other reasons. “When you crash, it’s easier to clean the wound if you don’t have to work around the leg hair.” I haven’t had a crash that resulted in any kind of road rash (knock wood) for the past three years, and the worst of that was on my right hip – which I don’t shave.
(I do shave the left hip, but that’s for theological reasons that I don’t think are appropriate in this venue. If you’ll carefully read the lost Psalms of Bob, which were cut from the King Bruce version in order to make the NFL player limits, you’ll know what I’m talking about.)
Anyway, if I was a racer that crashed a lot, then I would change my name to Stuart O’Grady (just kidding, dude … “Harden the F--- Up” right?). No, if I was Stuart I would shave everything. Actually, I would have my soigneur shave everything. I would also have him (the randowife tore up the resume of Ilsa, the retired
Speaking of soigneurs (Ilsa: Call me), another reason given for shaving your legs is that it makes for a better massage. Everyone knows that a good, post-ride massage is critical to break up the lactic acid pooling in your legs. You should also elevate the legs for at least half an hour after a ride, and wear special socks that facilitate better blood flow. And the massage should use special oils for aromatherapy rejuvenation. And don’t forget the embrocations that you must apply during the pre-ride massage.
Can you imagine having to do all of this crap with a bunch of stinking hair all over your legs? It would soak up those expensive oils, and your soigneur would have to have very delicate hands to avoid ripping hairs out daily. A hairy leg massage from Ilsa's callused hands would have been a de facto waxing. Come to think of it, Ilsa's hands were kind of big … and she had an Adam’s apple, too. Doesn’t
Here’s a better reason to shave your legs: “It keeps the leg/knee warmers up.”
Okay, stick with me now because there’s some science here, and some of you may have only studied acting with Ivana Chubbuck instead of Physics with Dr. Landt. Basically, you know the little bit of exposed rubber band stuff at the top of leg- and knee-warmers? Well, that stuff is designed to grab onto your skin to keep the warmers up. Smooth skin has more surface tension than hair, which is round and tends to roll. If you shave your legs, the rubbery stuff has a smoother, more-sure surface to grab, and your leg- and knee-warmers stay up better.
And this was the reason that I used to shave my legs throughout the winter, because you could usually count on one or two days a month when the temperature would hit 70 and you would need to expose at least some of your legs. But we haven’t had any of those days in six weeks now in Tennessee, so my legs are unshorn and, as a result, hideous. And I now live in fear of a warm spell, for it means that I will either need to ride with my tights on and overheat, or pop a new head on my Schick Intuition and start scraping. And razor cuts hurt … especially when the soapy water hits them.
Still, I hope it warms soon. And when it does I will go ahead and shave, and take the pain like a man. Pretend that I’m a tough guy like Stuart O’Grady. Or Ilsa.