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Look good to feel good.

Rule #33 Dilemmas

by / / 108 posts

As I write this, Rule #33 is being hammered on over in The Rules. This is a hell of a Rule, demanding legs be kept shaven at all times. I believe for most Velominati “at all times” is a tough ask. No one is saying you have to shave the guns everyday, unless you have Peter van Petegem’s five o’clock shadow twenty minutes after your morning’s shave.

If you have never done it for whatever reason, you owe it to yourself to try it once. It doesn’t reflect on your sexuality and it’s only hair, it’ll grow back. It will grow back unless you wax your legs and that might be a bit too much of an introduction. Me, I’ve never waxed anything but skis.

I think most cyclists who have never shaved their legs want to experience it but fear the awkward explanations. And it only becomes more awkward if you try to over-explain it. Plain and simple it looks awesome. It looks great like new handlebar tape looks great. And like new handlebar tape, everything keeps looking awesome with some basic maintenance. Forget the long-winded, hand-waving explanations. Most curious people are afraid to ask anyway because it’s politically insensitive to impugn your potential cross-dressing interests. They don’t want to take that chance. Cyclists put in untold hours on the road and nothing is more demoralizing than seeing sweaty, hairy legs down there.

I don’t race. I try to adhere to Rule #33 purely on aesthetic grounds. If I look better on the bike, I will feel better on the bike. Shaved legs do feel better and look better so give it a try. Does that make me a poser? I really don’t care if someone thinks that.

One thing I would love to find out is when do retired professionals stop shaving? I’m sure it’s a chore they fantasize about not keeping up with but really, if they still ride do they still shave? Robert Millar, please advise.

The weird thing is I live in a climate where shorts are most always worn so I see a lot of legs but the weird thing is more guys shave their legs than there are Cyclists out there. The is a subset of men who are naturally hairless or who are shaving their legs despite showing no other outward signs of throwing a leg over a top tube with regularity. I’m afraid to find out more.

// The Rules

  1. My VMH requires year-round shaving. I assume life-time is understood (by both parties).

  2. My VMH is a big fan of the shaving, and she reminds me to HTFU regularly. When anybody else asks me why, I just tell them, “I shave for the same reason anybody does: so I don’t snag my hose.”

  3. I came across and interesting article a while ago about the Specialized team doing preseason wind tunnel testing on gear for an upcoming season. After testing various types of helmets, wheelsets, riding positions, etc… they decided to hold a video and photo shoot to provide some material to their sponsors and the media to show how they were preparing for the season.

    Before they would shoot though, the rider doing the testing wanted to shave his legs, as he noted in the article he typically only does so before races and appearances. So the razors came out, and the rider jokingly said they should do a quick test to compare shaved vs not, just for fun, and that maybe they could test out the old debate on whether or not it makes one any faster. It was assumed they might gain a watt or two, but they figured why not see while they were there.

    Check out the article for some more backstory, but the results surprised the hell out of them. In spending thousands of dollars on gear and kit to test, the shaved legs actually ended up providing as much of a gain as multiple pieces of new gear together.

    Dont mind the site in the link (a tri site) but they had the best writeup on the story I could find again in short notice: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2014/07/photos/secrets-wind-tunnel_102363

    Interesting info.

  4. @sthilzy

    Thursday is my shave legs day.

    Being WC, can you get away with Rule #33 non-compliance?

    http://www.bicycling.com/racing/pro-cycling/peter-sagan-races-tour-de-san-luis-with-gasp-hairy-legs

    It’s Sags, he actually shaved that morning. That’s his 10am shadow..

    I get asked all the time. I just say its fashion mainly, it’s what cyclists do. But the VMH requests it, and many mates comment on the guns, so it seems popular.

    Once a week, and before social gatherings for me, you gotta put your best out there. Out of season/cold season been known to relax the regimen though.

  5. @Beers

    @sthilzy

    Thursday is my shave legs day.

    Being WC, can you get away with Rule #33 non-compliance?

    http://www.bicycling.com/racing/pro-cycling/peter-sagan-races-tour-de-san-luis-with-gasp-hairy-legs

    It’s Sags, he actually shaved that morning. That’s his 10am shadow..

    And I thought it was the ol’ train hairy race light thing… that’s the saying yes ? or something like that anyways.

  6. @Neil

    Just to set the cat amongst the pigeons but….

    Surely if we shave our legs then we should shave our arms too. All the ‘reasons’ for shaved legs (easier to rub in deep heat or sun screen, easier to clean in case of crash, aerodynamics, etc) apply just as much to arms as they do to legs.

    I started riding about 11 years ago. I have been shaving my legs for 10 years and one day on a ride about 7 years ago, I came to the realization that my hairy arms looked quite odd compared to my hairless legs.

    Been shaving my arms and legs every 2 days or so ever since.

  7. @Buck Rogers

    @Rob

    @piwakawaka

    @Rob

    @EBruner

    @emerson

    Hey, it was 1984.

    I remember when we all thought like that!

    As to the question at hand (or foot?) I have not shaved since I hung up the race wheels… yes I miss the feel, the look and worst of all the respect. After 2 years in Miami I toy with the idea, even to the point of floating a small balloon past the VHM as to why it would be a good idea. She points out that I ride that dam bike too much anyway and I don’t race any more so why would I do something that raises more questions about my attachment to masculinity?

    A Goal is what would put me back in the tub with a pink razor. The last one was the 200 on 100 ride. But events like that do not come about often and somehow down in the flat lands 250 km rides are easy to come by. So unless I go for the hour (the only goal is to out distance Frank’s mark) or start lining up again (not happening unless retirement and divourse happen) I will live with the shame.

    I like your idea for a Velominati Hour, I shave, I also live in a temperate climate and wear shorts most days, fucked if I’m going to shave my legs and hide them in trousers.

    Yes on that, shaved and shorts are the way to go. I do remember the feeling of fresh shaved and long pants or sheets!

    A Velominati hour on festum-prophetae where we all attempt it for bragging rights. Right here I lay it down that I can beat Frank’s time.

    Well since you missed the 200-not-on-100 ride last summer, you better make some quick plans to get in the Battenkill Gran Fondo with the rest of us!!! (a bunch of the 200-0n-100 crew are riding it together–you can stay at my place!). I’m actually, for once, being serious here as well!

    Buck, I’m torn and thank you for the kind offer. If I was up north I’d join you and suffer miserably but I’m down here and can’t make it. I want a full report post race though. I will wish for good wet spring weather to make it roubaix like!

  8. @Sparty

    I’ll never forget the look on my father’s face when I came home to visit during college and I had shaved legs and an earring. My father, being an ex-Marine, is never one to mince words or stifle his opinion, but he was silent. He walked away and a short time later returned with a pink razor and my mother’s jewelry box. I quickly grew out of the Pantani earring phase, but still shave the guns. When my teammates entered a race near where I grew up, we stayed with my parents that weekend. My father placed a jar of pink razors in the guest bathroom. Most years, my father will stuff a pink razor into my Christmas gift.

    Exact opposite in my case. It was mom who objected to shaving and the earring (Sean Yates style in my case), and it was my father the former Marine who said “who gives a shit? let him do it” to both.

  9. Folks can ask me any questions they want & call my decisions whatever the want…but they have to do it during a Rule V ride. Otherwise, I ain’t hearin’ it.

    Willingly spending hours alone in rain, freezing cold, and the wind is about as far from “posing” as I can think of…

  10. Interesting to hear two tales of father’s with military backgrounds. My father was in the army and out of all the crazy things I’ve done (and put him and my mother through), shaving my legs is pretty, pretty low on the scale of Cause for Concern.

  11. @Mabuz

    I came across and interesting article a while ago about the Specialized team doing preseason wind tunnel testing on gear for an upcoming season. After testing various types of helmets, wheelsets, riding positions, etc… they decided to hold a video and photo shoot to provide some material to their sponsors and the media to show how they were preparing for the season.

    Before they would shoot though, the rider doing the testing wanted to shave his legs, as he noted in the article he typically only does so before races and appearances. So the razors came out, and the rider jokingly said they should do a quick test to compare shaved vs not, just for fun, and that maybe they could test out the old debate on whether or not it makes one any faster. It was assumed they might gain a watt or two, but they figured why not see while they were there.

    Check out the article for some more backstory, but the results surprised the hell out of them. In spending thousands of dollars on gear and kit to test, the shaved legs actually ended up providing as much of a gain as multiple pieces of new gear together.

    Dont mind the site in the link (a tri site) but they had the best writeup on the story I could find again in short notice: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2014/07/photos/secrets-wind-tunnel_102363

    Interesting info.

    OK, this might actually get me to reconsider my “Full viking mode only” policy. But the gunshow season around here is only about three months at best, so the benefits will be somewhat limited…

  12. @Quasar

    @Mabuz

    I came across and interesting article a while ago about the Specialized team doing preseason wind tunnel testing on gear for an upcoming season. After testing various types of helmets, wheelsets, riding positions, etc… they decided to hold a video and photo shoot to provide some material to their sponsors and the media to show how they were preparing for the season.

    Before they would shoot though, the rider doing the testing wanted to shave his legs, as he noted in the article he typically only does so before races and appearances. So the razors came out, and the rider jokingly said they should do a quick test to compare shaved vs not, just for fun, and that maybe they could test out the old debate on whether or not it makes one any faster. It was assumed they might gain a watt or two, but they figured why not see while they were there.

    Check out the article for some more backstory, but the results surprised the hell out of them. In spending thousands of dollars on gear and kit to test, the shaved legs actually ended up providing as much of a gain as multiple pieces of new gear together.

    Dont mind the site in the link (a tri site) but they had the best writeup on the story I could find again in short notice: http://triathlon.competitor.com/2014/07/photos/secrets-wind-tunnel_102363

    Interesting info.

    OK, this might actually get me to reconsider my “Full viking mode only” policy. But the gunshow season around here is only about three months at best, so the benefits will be somewhat limited…

    he didn’t gain 15 watts because of being more aero, he gained 15 watts because he was Looking Fantastic (in regards to being Rule #33 compliant, not so much the Tri gid-up). its all the confidence of knowing your Obeying the Rules! and taking that into consideration the benefits would be year round.

  13. @hudson

    @Quasar

    @Mabuz

    OK, this might actually get me to reconsider my “Full viking mode only” policy. But the gunshow season around here is only about three months at best, so the benefits will be somewhat limited…

    he didn’t gain 15 watts because of being more aero, he gained 15 watts because he was Looking Fantastic (in regards to being Rule #33 compliant, not so much the Tri gid-up). its all the confidence of knowing your Obeying the Rules! and taking that into consideration the benefits would be year round.

    There’s my excuse. 15 watts is like 45 seconds off a 10m TT.

  14. As a cyclist torn between the road and the woods, it’s a #4 trimmer for me. Can’t decide if it’s the perfect compromise or the useless ‘Swiss Army Knife/hybrid bike’ version of leg hair management.

  15. I’m compliant 12 months a year. Every 5-6 days in the winter, every 3-4 days in the summer. I don’t think the psychological aspect of shaving can ever be discounted. Just as with a dirty bike, to ride in the summer with visible stubble puts you off from the start. Gleaming, smooth guns are worth extra wattage all day. And don’t forget if it rains, how amazingly awesome wet smooth guns look. And if you need emphasis on that last point, imagine, wet, bedraggled hairy guns.

  16. Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

  17. @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    May as well shave from the base of your neck all the way down. Then shave your neck.

  18. @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    Errrr . . . no. And I have more hair on my back than I care for. But for me, it’s face, legs, neck in that order.

    Seriously, so this is the area under the upper part of your shorts? Are you using bibs? Regular “old school” shorts? Most of my shorts are the old school typ[e but I take the Merckxian way and use braces/suspenders (call them what you will.) No issues at all.

  19. @wiscot

    Hehe, I know it sounds weird, doesn’t it. I’m not a particularly hairy person. I use old school shorts too, it’s above the line of the shorts, like I said, where the jersey pockets are.

  20. Freaks!

  21. Shaved legs. ‘Nuff said.

  22. I wonder, do we judge our fellow cyclists by their (not) shaven legs? Does it adds to the first impression we get? Can we see passed is? Should we see passed it?

  23. @Oli

    Freaks!

    Thanks Oli! I always did feel a little bit different from the other kids, but I could never quite put my finger on it.

  24. @G’rilla

    Shaved legs. ‘Nuff said.

    Some serious manscaping too. Damn Italians. Looks like a classics rider rather than a GT contender to me.

  25. @wiscot

    @G’rilla

    Shaved legs. ‘Nuff said.

    Some serious manscaping too. Damn Italians. Looks like a classics rider rather than a GT contender to me.

    I suspect the records would show a Track Rider – well a track of sorts. Training seemed to encompass a unique method of culling the least successful.

  26. So I had to register just to comment on this thread. I now have a new answer for the next time someone asks why I shave my legs. I can now say, “I don’t shave, I use an epilator.” I am a hairy bastard and shaving was a pain as it would be prickly in 1-2 days. I finally took the plunge in January and decided to buy a cheap epilator and try it out. Now I can go 1-2 weeks between maintenance sessions and I’m not wasting razors, shaving cream and water. It also hurts.

  27. @Gianni

    Oldsters were late 50s and one late 60s. The two late fifties guys drank prolific numbers of Rolling Rock ponies after every Tuesday and Thursday night lap session around Philly’s river drives. One of them was also a pack-a-day More 120 smoker. The late 60s oldster rode a tres jolie Campy record Grandis track bike.

  28. @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    I don’t shave that area—-but this time of year (in Georgia) the humidity is really low and dry skin is a real problem…..especially right there…… SOoooo I slather on the Eucerin in that area before each ride— otherwise I am constantly reaching back there trying to scratch the itch so to speak ——

  29. @RayG

    1. Scrubbing road rash clean is always painful

    2. Massage is a lot easier and more comfortable without the plumage.

    In any case they tend to shave (parts of) you in the hospital before they put you back together any way.

  30. Ok, so now most of the hair has been removed from the gun area (below the line of bib shorts) and the VMW didn’t complain too much. Result. I haven’t decided how I feel about this yet.

  31. This link might not work outside the UK but it seems you guys Down Under are getting a bit carried away with Rule #33

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-35600546

  32. @Teocalli

    This link might not work outside the UK but it seems you guys Down Under are getting a bit carried away with Rule #33

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-australia-35600546

    That’s what my bath looked like after the first pass with the clippers.

  33. @RobSandy

    Ok, so now most of the hair has been removed from the gun area (below the line of bib shorts) and the VMW didn’t complain too much. Result. I haven’t decided how I feel about this yet.

    Once you kit up, the planets will align and all will seem right in the world.

  34. @RobSandy

    Ok, so now most of the hair has been removed from the gun area (below the line of bib shorts) and the VMW didn’t complain too much. Result. I haven’t decided how I feel about this yet.

    Just make sure that you take into consideration the lowest point of anything else you might wear. Speedos and tan lines look ridiculous. A combination of speedos, tan lines and wookie shorts would be beyond contemplation.

  35. @chris

    @RobSandy

    Ok, so now most of the hair has been removed from the gun area (below the line of bib shorts) and the VMW didn’t complain too much. Result. I haven’t decided how I feel about this yet.

    Just make sure that you take into consideration the lowest point of anything else you might wear. Speedos and tan lines look ridiculous. A combination of speedos, tan lines and wookie shorts would be beyond contemplation.

    Shit, that’s a good point. I take my little boy swimming quite regularly – I therefore need to go up above swimming shorts level or the police will arrive next time I’m at the pool.

    As for Speedos? On me, not ever. No.

  36. I don’t know about Dilemmas but this thread may need Counselling if it goes on much longer.

  37. Lordy, this thread has brought back memories of my undergrad years in the late 80s. I’d work all summer then go abroad for two weeks at the end of September (France, Spain, Austria – sunnier places than Scotland) and come back with actual tan lines. Over the winter I’d swim and hit the sauna at the Uni rec center – wearing speedos. I wore them because I rode up and down to Uni and carried everything in a rucksack. Speedos were small, light and could easily be wrung out. On one hand, my unorthodox tan schemata marked me as a cyclist, on the other hand I looked like a freak. I suspect some of the fellow students who witnessed my multi-hued display are indeed still in counselling.

  38. @Teocalli

    Fuck yes. I’m mentally scarred already.

  39. @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    not I, but I suspect your problem isn’t so much the hair on your skin there, as it is that there are things in your jersey pockets that are blocking the flow of air to your skin & therefore stopping the sweat from evaporating. It’s the same mechanism that makes my upper back seem to sweat more every time I commute, thanks to the backpack sitting on that area.

  40. @Mikael Liddy

    @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    not I, but I suspect your problem isn’t so much the hair on your skin there, as it is that there are things in your jersey pockets that are blocking the flow of air to your skin & therefore stopping the sweat from evaporating. It’s the same mechanism that makes my upper back seem to sweat more every time I commute, thanks to the backpack sitting on that area.

    Hmm, good point. I never considered that. Oh well, I will still shave it anyway because it is beyond ridiculous.

  41. @Teocalli

    I don’t know about Dilemmas but this thread may need Counselling if it goes on much longer.

    Don’t tell me you’re a Guv’nor rider too?!

  42. @davidlhill

    @Teocalli

    I don’t know about Dilemmas but this thread may need Counselling if it goes on much longer.

    Don’t tell me you’re a Guv’nor rider too?!

    Pashley? No, but they do look cool.

  43. @Teocalli

    There was an amusing thread over there called Crispo’s Dilemma. I hadn’t spotted this tread was titled that too. I made the leap due to the Eroica thing we nearly met up at. Myself and my wife are booked to do it again this year, btw.

    And yes, a Guv’nor is #3 in my stable.

  44. @davidlhill

    @Teocalli

    There was an amusing thread over there called Crispo’s Dilemma. I hadn’t spotted this tread was titled that too. I made the leap due to the Eroica thing we nearly met up at. Myself and my wife are booked to do it again this year, btw.

    And yes, a Guv’nor is #3 in my stable.

    Yup we are booked up for Bakewell. Staying in the Castle Hotel.

  45. @DavyMuur

    @Mikael Liddy

    @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    not I, but I suspect your problem isn’t so much the hair on your skin there, as it is that there are things in your jersey pockets that are blocking the flow of air to your skin & therefore stopping the sweat from evaporating. It’s the same mechanism that makes my upper back seem to sweat more every time I commute, thanks to the backpack sitting on that area.

    Hmm, good point. I never considered that. Oh well, I will still shave it anyway because it is beyond ridiculous.

    Or, just to be the devil’s advocate here, but less stuff in your pockets and a small-as-possible EPMS?

  46. @wiscot

    @DavyMuur

    @Mikael Liddy

    @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    not I, but I suspect your problem isn’t so much the hair on your skin there, as it is that there are things in your jersey pockets that are blocking the flow of air to your skin & therefore stopping the sweat from evaporating. It’s the same mechanism that makes my upper back seem to sweat more every time I commute, thanks to the backpack sitting on that area.

    Hmm, good point. I never considered that. Oh well, I will still shave it anyway because it is beyond ridiculous.

    Or, just to be the devil’s advocate here, but less stuff in your pockets and a small-as-possible EPMS?

    HERETIC! BURN HIM!

  47. @RobSandy

    @wiscot

    @DavyMuur

    @Mikael Liddy

    @DavyMuur

    Ok, show of hands… Who has to shave their lower back ‘saddle’ area? That is the portion of the back where your jersey pockets would be. I’ve got a patch of really fine kind of woolly hair there that sweats like a bitch in warm weather. Just wondering if anyone else has the same problem.

    not I, but I suspect your problem isn’t so much the hair on your skin there, as it is that there are things in your jersey pockets that are blocking the flow of air to your skin & therefore stopping the sweat from evaporating. It’s the same mechanism that makes my upper back seem to sweat more every time I commute, thanks to the backpack sitting on that area.

    Hmm, good point. I never considered that. Oh well, I will still shave it anyway because it is beyond ridiculous.

    Or, just to be the devil’s advocate here, but less stuff in your pockets and a small-as-possible EPMS?

    HERETIC! BURN HIM!

    Something something dark side.

    EPMS? NEVERRRR!

  48. I live in a climate where it’s winter almost half the year. I started shaving my legs in the 70s and haven’t stopped, and keep them smooth year round. It’s the way it is, without exception. Over the winter months it adds motivation when I’m on the trainer… looking down at my shaved legs adds to the internal monologue of Phil and Paul talking about me hammering a hard solo chase of the break that includes only Merckx and Hinault.

  49. @Oli

    Jeeze… shoulda wore white bibs too I guess… That’d have been so punk! Whatev… Anyways, the leg hairs I’m betting, if not already, will be gone. He’s not lazy enough to waste a few watts ’cause he can’t be bothered to clean up the guns for summer. That we can be sure.

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