Why We Shave
Why We Shave
By John Rosengren
My wife doesn’t understand why I shave my legs. Most women don’t. It’s a guy thing.
I quit for five years. Once a Cat III racer, I had razored my legs for a decade, but I stopped shaving when we started our family. I no longer had time to train like I used to.
Finally, the kids are old enough that we’ve settled into our parenting patterns, and I’m able to attempt a comeback. But can I? I’m 42. Will my legs spring back from a five-year hiatus? Before love, cycling was my passion. I owe myself an honest try.
First step, I upgrade my bike--trade in my 15-year-old custom-built steel frame for a 2005 Bianchi San Lorenzo used only one season by a local pro. Wheeling my new steed out of his house, I’m suddenly self-conscious of my furry legs. “Thanks, guess now I’ll have shave,” I mumble.
You hear reasons why male cyclists shave. Keeps road rash from getting infected. Easier to have legs massaged daily (I wish). Makes us more aerodynamic. All hogwash. Peer pressure makes us do it.
Smooth legs give cyclists the proper Look. It’s about style, baby, not function. The guy with hairy legs on two wheels is the tennis player with black socks. His fashion gaffe broadcasts an ignorance of the sport’s finer points. We shave to fit into the pack.
The ritual provides us a form of male bonding. Many’s the training ride when a pack of virile guys has debated Lady Bic versus Atra. Soap versus shaving cream. We’ve boasted about our experiences with Nair, waxing and other hair removal experiments. Shaved legs let you be one of the guys.
So, despite my wife’s protests, I shaved. I eliminated ice cream and logged some miles. That old tan line showed up again mid-thigh and my appetite launched. My legs adjusted to the big ring. Could I hang with a pack?
I found out by chance. On my way in from a solo ride, I was swept up by five cyclists headed back from the Tuesday night crit. They still had their numbers pinned to their jerseys. Flanders. Minneapolis’ top team. I grabbed a wheel.
They must’ve been threes, even twos, judging by the strength bulging in their smooth calves and their solid pedal strokes. They still had some race left in their legs. When we hit a hill, the pace burst.
I put my head down and dug deep. My heart clattered. My thighs flamed. My vision narrowed.
I glimpsed my legs. Smooth, muscles edged. They looked 15 years younger, capable of reeling off 300-mile weeks, galloping up hills, ripping through sprints. I glimpsed an
epiphany. I didn’t simply look like a cyclist; in those smooth, shaved legs, I saw a cyclist. My confidence surged.
I crested the hill on their wheel. One Flanders rider turned and regarded me with surprise. I was easily 10, maybe 15 years older. He didn’t say anything, but he didn’t shoo me away.
When we reached a fork, they took the southern route. I headed north and spun home. Kissed my wife, showered, and shaved. I’d found my mojo.
© John Rosengren