Question: I’m 15 and serious about cycling. All the hardcore racers around here shave their legs. I’m as dedicated to the sport as anyone, but I can’t figure out why they do that. — Walter P.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Racers and other serious cyclists shave their legs for several good reasons — and at least one wrong one. First, the good reasons:
- Shaving your legs makes it easier to clean road rash and other abrasions from falls. Not having hair also makes it easier to bandage these wounds.
- Leg massage won’t pull your hair.
- Your legs stay cleaner and maybe even a little cooler without hair to collect road grime and sweat.
- Leg warmers stay up better. The gripper band at the top sticks to bare skin but slides down on hairy legs.
- Those nice legs you’re building look more muscular.
As for tenuous reasons to shave, aerodynamics leads the list. Hair on your legs has a negligible affect on your speed — though bare skin might make you think you’re faster.
Most cyclists shave because it’s traditional. It shows that you’re serious about the sport. However, some fast and skilled riders have hairy legs, so it’s a personal decision based on your sense of style as well as the practical reasons just mentioned.