Real Talk: Do You Shave? Wax? Neither?

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No topic is taboo here, so let’s talk about hair removal (why not!) Cyclists and triathletes are famous (or perhaps that should be infamous) for hair-free, smooth legs. The men and the women! Why do we get rid of our leg hair, and does it really benefit us?

Triathletes’ favourite methods of hair removal: Triathletes take their cue from cyclists when it comes to removing leg hair. After all, those guys have been at it for longer! There are three popular methods: shaving (quick, easy and cheap, but can be risky), waxing (painful, expensive, but long-lasting) and cream (smelly, and can sting – a lot!) Very hairy chaps tend to use clippers first, and then their final removal method of choice.

Do You Shave? Wax? Something Else?

Why do cyclists and triathletes remove leg hair? To an outside looking in on our sport, it probably seems ridiculous, vain or simply bizarre. Why would we bother to remove our leg hair?

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Surely that’s for ladies only? Well, no. In fact there are several very good reasons behind cyclists’ decision to go hair-free.

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  • It makes you faster: The benefit here is probably minimal, but it’s all about marginal gains, right? Triathletes and cyclists know the important of aerodynamics. And if you’ve thought about shelling out serious cash on aero helmets and bike fitting assessments, a few quid on a disposable razor is a drop in the ocean.
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  • It makes falling off less messy: If you’ve ever come off your road bike, you’ll know all about the pain of picking grit out of leg hair. Having hair-free legs makes road rash easier to clean, less prone to infection, and actually lets it heal more quickly. And sticking plasters hurt much less when you pull them off a hair-free section of skin.
  • It keeps you cooler: This doesn’t apply at this time of year, but keeping your legs shaved in summer (during our main race season) definitely does help your body regulate its temperature.
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  • It makes sports massage easier: Your sports massage therapist will thank you for coming to the session with hair-free legs. They’ll be able to work on your muscles more easily, and you’ll find it a more comfortable experience as there won’t be any leg hairs to get pulled, tugged and tangled.
  • It assists in the swim: If cyclists are known for shaved legs, swimmers go one step further and often shave their body and arms, too. It has both physical and psychological benefits: aerodynamics and that elusive “feel” for the water. Slipping through the water of a pool when you’ve shaved down for the first time feels very different.
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  • It looks good! Come on… admit it… you just like the look (and feel) of having smooth legs. It tells people you’re serious about your sport, and makes you feel more of a cyclist. It’s OK. I won’t tell anyone. We’re all friends here!

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