Perspective is an amazing thing.
Like most American males, I’ve always had the perspective of not expecting to see hair on the legs of women…and hair on the legs of men. That’s not too crazy, is it?
Of course there were always those contrarians who liked to point out that in Europe, only women of the night shave their legs. True or not, it really doesn’t matter since I was never in the market for a European wife. And since my inclination has always been to live in the wild-west here in the USA, it was a ‘double-who-cares?’
But you know what? If I was forced over to Europe and had to marry a European non-prostitute, I’d still insist that she shave her legs. Providing the shaving didn’t diminish her ability to prepare ‘boiled beef’ and tasty ‘root crop’ side dishes.
A Change Of Perspective
But then I started racing my bike on the roads of Northern California and looked around to see that the guys in my race looked like European prostitutes…at least from the cycling shorts down.
When my coach looked over at a cyclist with hair on his legs, and mumbled some disparaging remark about ‘Come on Dude…’, I realized that showing up with hair on my legs made me stand out in the crowd.
So I did it. I got into the shower and denuded my legs. Afterward, I looked down at those rascals and thought that they looked fat and puffy. But before long, I was in a group of cyclists and hairy legs would have looked amateurish and out of place.
Good lord, my perspective had changed 180 degrees.
So I raced, and struggled to make my bike go faster than everyone else. There were exceptions to the shaved leg culture. One of the fastest guys never shaved his legs and everyone excused him because he’d come from a mountain bike racing background. But for the rest of us it was ‘shave or look like a newbie’.
Another Paradigm Shift
Then I had a big bike wreck and ceased racing.
Gradually the hair grew back onto my legs and my perspective turned back
to normal seeing shaved legs on male bike racers for what it was…(insert your perspective here).
Leg Shaving According To Carl
But should you find that you are wanting to shave your legs the way the Europeans do it, Bicycling magazine has recruited the expertise of Carl Cwiok, a National Master Barber employed by The Art of Shaving.
Who knew the hair removal world has a heirachy, complete with ‘Masters’ and ‘Non-masters’?
- If you have much more than stubble, use a beard trimmer to trim the shrubbery down to a manageable level.
- Warm up your legs in the shower to trick your legs into submission…they’ll think you like them, not that you’re about to attack them with a sharp instrument.
- Stay in the shower. If you get out, your legs may wake up and know that they’re being prepared for the chopping block.
- Apply some pre-shave oil to the trouble spots like around your ankles, around your knees, and behind your knees. I told you this would be a ‘Cadillac’ shaving.
- Apply shaving cream…use a shaving brush (not too many of these around), a face cloth, or if you have no sense of style, your hand.
- Shave using short, smooth strokes. Don’t be afraid to go ‘free-form’…with the grain, against the grain, cross grain.
- Here’s the discouraging part. When you think you’ve done a great job, you haven’t. There will always be missed spots for you to go back after. Ignore this step at your own risk. Should you show up to a ride with a patch of unshaved hair, your fellow rider’s eyes will be draw to that spot quicker than a booger poking out your nose, turtle-head style.
- Put a moisturizer on your legs afterward to reduce chafing. At times this will trick your legs into thinking they still look normal, minimizing their embarrassment.
So there you have it…a few silly words about my experience with leg shaving, as well as some helpful advise for the denuding procedure.