Shave Or Not To Shave: What Are The Benefits Of Shaving Legs For Cycling?
Smooth female legs have long been a social norm in society because of their aesthetics and attractiveness. Shaved men’s legs are perceived ambiguously, but not among cyclists. And there is even a theory that leg shaving for cycling among men started earlier than it became the norm among women. This article explains why cyclists shave their legs and why it’s not just about aesthetics.
Why do cyclists shave their legs?
There is no rule against riding the bike on the race with hairy legs. Shaving for cycling is a tradition that lasted for more than 100 years. Few people know that cyclists started shaving their legs en masse before women did. The proof of this fact is the photos from the famous Tour de France, which was held in the 1920s. In these photos, you can see riders with smooth and perfectly- shaved legs. And shaving legs among women became a social norm in the 1940s thanks to actress Betty Grable.
Many famous cyclists insist that shaved legs were and still are in vogue. Young athletes perceive the first leg shave as an initiation into real cycling, and later it becomes a habit and a routine.
If someone among the professionals breaks this tradition, most of the bike riders react negatively. There was a case when European champion and three-time World Champion Peter Sagan went to the start of the race with unshaven legs. That caused a huge discussion and many older colleagues considered it disrespectful. Steven Roach, a former Irish cyclist, considered the act a bad example for others. «Why do cyclists shave? All of us know that it is not just for aesthetic look, but also the respect of our ancient traditions,»- Roach said.
Shave legs for cycling were first investigated in 1987 and published in the journal Bicycling. Engineering professor Chester Kyle found that shaved legs reduce drag by 0.6 percent, which roughly saves 5 seconds for every hour at 37 km/h. In 2014, a major U.S. company called Specialized conducted research in its own air pipe, where it was found out: smooth feet reduce drag by 7 percent and save the cyclist 15 watts of energy. That’s more than the outfit with the latest technology could do. By the way, swimmers also shave from head to toe to improve aerodynamics. Saving energy is the most important benefit of shaving legs for cycling and swimming.
The most tangible and useful reason why do bikers shave their legs. Injuries in cycling are common. They range from sprained ankles to shattered knees and bloody abrasions on the body after a wreck. Such wounds need to be washed of asphalt crumbs, sand, and dirt, disinfected and covered with plaster or bandage. In this case, it is good to have shaved legs, because it is much easier to remove dirt from the wound and change the bandage on the skin without hair.
Massage and recovery procedures
Only professional athletes or deeply passionate amateurs are usually attending the massage after the race. For them, massage is not a whim, but a necessity during recovery and injury prevention. These few know that massaging hairy legs is much more painful than massaging cyclist shaved legs: the hair pulls at the skin and prevents relaxation. Plus, it’s more comfortable and enjoyable for the masseur to massage smooth feet, and you don’t have to use a lot of oil to get the glide.
Cyclists often bare their legs and see the legs of their fellow cyclists. Smooth skin looks much more aesthetically pleasing than hairy jungles. Also, when there’s no hair, you can better see the body’s topography and muscle work. For some riders, it gives them confidence during a race. Tanned, muscular, and slender legs are even more beautiful when they have no hair on them. For the same reason, weightlifters shave their body hair to look better on the podium. Well, how often to shave your legs for cycling? It all depends on your nature, when you start to feel uncomfortable and your hair becomes visible- it is time to take a razor!
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