A buddy of mine who’s recently gone overboard into the cycling Kook-Aid vat asked me the other day about his legs. “They’re all dry and scaly since I started shaving.”
“You’re putting lotion on them, right?”
Blank look. “Lotion?”
“Yeah, like what chicks use. It keeps your legs from turning into reptile hide.” I looked at his legs, which were dry, flaking, and right up there with #4 sandpaper. Then I looked closely at the edge where his shorts ended on his thighs. “Dude!” I said. “Are you half shagging?”
“Roll up those shorts, buddy. Let’s take a look.” He did as I instructed. “Fuck, man. You’re half shagging. I knew it. Look at all that leg hair. Looks like a goddamn overgrown lawn.”
“Who cares? No one will ever see it. It’s covered by the shorts.”
“I just saw it. And it’s nasty. What about your old lady? She let you strut around in your jockey shorts half shagged? Man, I bet when you get naked you look about as appetizing as a gorilla with partial hair loss. That’s some nasty shit.”
Then it occurred to me. Like most other newbie male cyclists, he had no idea how to shave. I remembered back to thirty years ago, when I first took razor to leg, and what a weed-eating, drain-clogging, blood-soaked odyssey it had been–and on the hair scale, I’m pretty light. My buddy is an old-school man, a man built from snips, snails, puppy-dog tails, and more hair than an Aztec high priest.
So it occurred to me that lots of new cyclists may be struggling with the whole issue of how to shave properly, and more importantly, once properly shaved, how to maintain the look without hacking into a femoral artery or showing up on rides with–gasp!–ugly razor stubble.
Wussy depilatories or cold, hard steel?
Some guys think they should de-hair with depilatory creams like Nair or Veet. Don’t get me wrong; this shit works. However, it’s really expensive, especially compared to the cheap-ass razor you can buy for 99 cents and use for half a year. A tube of Veet runs up to $10 bucks (ouch!), and your wife will use most of it, trust me, leaving you scrounging around for a leg razor the night before the big race.
Bottom line? Nothing beats a razor, and I’m not talking one of those wussy girlie leg razors. An old fashioned twin-bladed Gillette or, even better, a single-bladed Schick is just the ticket. It fucking worked for your old man, so I reckon it’s good enough for you, you wuss. Just don’t make the mistake of shaving your legs and then hopping out of the shower and using the same razor to shave your face. Leg hair is composed of a protein known as steelitin, and it’s very different from the protein that makes up facial hair. Steelitin is harder than fuck and will take big, jagged, micro chunks out of your razor blade, so when you put it up against your face it will chop and tear your skin like a rusty fishhook dragged across a baby’s bottom. Ouchers! Icky blood! Tetanus!
A leg razor will last practically forever. You can leave it in the shower, where it will rust up and get all jagged, and if you look closely you’ll see a pound of nasty old fermenting hairs from six months ago all caked up under the blade with soap and shit, but no big deal. Your legs are tough and the skin on them, if you’re any kind of man, should be like leather from all the hours you spend pounding the pedals in the blazing sun, and from all the scar tissue from crashing, and from all the chemical burns from shit like embro that you glob on them all the time.
Half shag or full cut?
Some dork who calls himself “Coach Levi” has produced a 6-minute YouTube video on leg shaving for cyclists. Here’s the link, but please don’t come up to me on the ride and confide that you watched it. I’ll think less of you, trust me.
The video is sort of okay in that it tells you to start with clippers and then, once you have the lawn chopped down to a manageable length, to seal the deal with soapy water and a razor. However, it recommends, indeed demonstrates, the half shag, where the hair is only cut below the cuff of the shorts.
All I can say is, don’t be a half shagger. I can’t put up a video of how to do it right, what with this being a family blog and all, but here’s the deal: stand up in the shower and shave the hair all the way up to your nuts, and on up the edges of your thighs, and even your butt cheeks. While you’re at it you might even want to thin out your rug, or at least prune back the overgrowth. It’ll actually make your package look more substantial in case you’re planning on supplementing your meager race winnings with the odd homemade porn video, but more importantly, when you go down face-first in the field sprint and your bibs are chewed to shit or have the ass ripped out like that day on PCH when Arkansas Traveler hit a boulder the size of Dallas, you’ll be showing smooth skin, not some rat-ass looking patch of thatch.
Full cut is vastly superior to half shag if you use embro. The shag will clot up the embro and not only waste this expensive and precious unguent, but the glops will adhere to the hair and resist rubbing into the skin. Instead, they’ll stay there forever, like little balls of fire, burning the snot out of everything they touch.
Half shag also marks you as a lazy shit. What if your old lady gave you the old “come hither” and then, when she dropped the robe, was standing there with an overgrown weed garden that covered her ass and went all the way down to her mid-thigh? Would you cut her any slack when she said, “Oh, honey, no one sees it when I’ve got my bib shorts on.” ‘Course you wouldn’t. Well, in case you didn’t notice, we’re in the 21st Century, and double standards are for losers. So don’t be a loser and half shag.
You also want to avoid half shag because it shows you lack the sufficient attention to detail required to succeed as a Cat 4 racer. You don’t care enough to understand and improve your FTP? Loser. You don’t care enough to choose your race wheels based on the course profile? Loser. You don’t take your banned substances in preparation for races where there won’t be any drug testing? Oh, boy. Well, same goes for shaving your legs: master the details, i.e. full cut without nicking your balls, and the big picture will follow.
Special shaving tip for special people
There are those cyclists for whom a mere 4hp electric hair clipper simply won’t get the job done. I’m talking the guys who show up for the Wheatgrass Ride on a foggy day dripping so much dew from their body hair that they look like Gorillas in the Mist. These are the men whose follicles will melt the motor on an electric pair of clippers, and who have more hair per square inch than a Beagle.
Men like this simply cannot begin, let alone maintain, proper cycling sleekness without help. That’s why I recommend the buddy system. Get another friend who’s also covered with an impenetrable blanket of hair, go out in the back yard with a pair of mechanical hedge clippers, and have a “weed whacking party.” You take turns chopping the hair off each others’ backs, then work down to the butt cheeks, thighs, and calves.
Once the thickest part of the foliage has been removed, you’ll need a Weed Eater to further reduce the overgrowth. Use of a fully hardened plastic cup is mandatory unless you like the feel of 50-lb. test fishing line smacking your balls at 4,000 rpm. After the hair has been reduced to a manageable 2-3 inch length, you and your buddy will need to take turns with a Bowie knife or other straight blade. Be careful not to cut off a leg, and double check that the cup is firmly in place every few minutes or so. No extra points for mistakenly lopping off your little buddy’s “little buddy.”
Finally, you’ll need to make an appointment at Lucinda’s Waxing Salon, where, for a modest price, Lucinda will painlessly rip out the remaining hairs to give you that silky smooth, shiny, powerful look of UCI pros the world over. Enjoy!