Look Pro, Part V: The Power of Hair

Which has helmet hair and which has clenbuterol? Photo: REUTERS/Lionel Bonaventure/Pool

The power of hair is not to be underestimated. Especially when it comes to having it carefully disheveled, with little bits poking out of the vents of your helmet. Indeed, hair sticking out of your helmet vents can be thought of as a conduit to The V; the strands reaching into the Ether, channeling its power like a lightening rod into your very being.

Anybody watching Amstel Gold on Sunday would have seen that Andy Schleck dangled off the front of the bunch until 500 meters to go, before being swallowed whole by a certain speeding Gilbertron. Granted, the final 500 meteres happen to be the longest meters in any race – even more so for the guy hanging off the front – but never-the-less, it is uncommon to watch the Grimplette get passed going uphill. There was something missing from his pedal stroke, a certain fluidity was gone that normally rests easy within his legs. Then I saw it: his hair was too short with not enough of it left peeking through the vents.  Look for yourself, disaster. I am convinced beyond contestation that had he worn his hair as he does during the Tour de France, he would have stayed away.

For all you baldies out there who are jumping over to the Rogaine website in a panic, I raise this for your consideration: your hairless head does not preclude you from the possibility of channeling The V. Indeed, lightning does strike where there is no rod; it’s just not as predictable.

When it comes to having your hair sticking out of your helmet, keep these considerations in mind:

  1. The power of hair only applies to the hair growing out of your planter. Shave your legs. No beards. (Note: Never shave your face on race day or any other day on which you will demand more from your legs than they can reasonably provide.) Goatees only when your are intentionally or unintentionally bald, and even then it’s suspect if you don’t go by the moniker, Il Pirata. See Rule #50.
  2. Hair growing long upon the guns is a conduit for the Anti-V; unregulated hair growth on one’s legs will soon cause you to spill burrito guts on your already dirty t-shirt on your way to a Critical Mass gathering.
  3. The Goldilocks Principle applies to hair as well as to shorts and socks. It may not be too long or too short. No ponytails. No Mullets. No exceptions.
  4. Being Casually Deliberate applies here as well; your hair should not stick out of every vent. Instead, shoot for 25% to 50%.
  5. Having a few curls sticking out between your ears and helmet can also help to channel The V, but be careful not to wander into Mullet territory.  See item three above.

A few samples for review and consideration.  You can see from this listing that this technique has been tried and tested for some time.

Freddy Maertens, rockin’ a Five and Dime in Rule #9 conditions on the Muur de Huy.


Here we have a young Hinault being squarely crammed into the hurtlocker by three bullies with hair in their vents. The look on Merckx’s face says it all: take that shower cap off and ride your bike, puppy dog.


Bungo’s casual expression and Mottet’s pain face tell you all you need to know. It’s the hair.


Johan van Summeren showing an almost perfect hair distribution; nice vent exposure, good ear curls. The cobblesone was a formality.

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68 Replies to “Look Pro, Part V: The Power of Hair”

  1. Bearded. Last summer, I had the full-on mountain man beard going (the Canadian version of @tomb‘s hobo beard). I’ve since cut the mass of hair down to a tidy, helmet-friendly style, and the beard is a tight trim. But I have A). the same issue tomb discusses, and B). Bulldog jowls underneath the beard that don’t look V at all. The beard also keeps the face warmer in the still sub-zero temperatures I’m typically riding in.

  2. @marko, not sure the crease cut anything off or not

    in terms of beards, there is something about a beard and ‘hardman’ that seems just synonymous to me. So perhaps I am a sinner as well especially since mine grows in winter for the explicit reason of having snot hanging off it frozen, and the gals just love seeing me come in to the office w/frozen crystals hanging off it in winter. It sure beats the balaclava thingy.

  3. Great write up!! I have to admit that am very follically un-challenged and keep my length fairly long, but just short of the mullet/ ponytail neighborhood. Definitely not at the length that my avatar used to have. Just the other day while on a long ride without a cap under the helmet due to slightly north of 50 degree temps, I had the idea of going to the woman who trims my hair and asking her to cut it while wearing my helmet. That would ensure just the right amount of vent protrusion.

    The hair evolution of the Rug Merchant:



  4. That’s one smug expression on Schumacher’s face so it is. “I’m doping up to my eyeball’s and I’m getting away with it” he seems to be saying. Given the baby gut he’s got it also looks like he’s two months from peaking or too fat to climb, hard to say which . . .

  5. I know the subject is helmet hair (and the more the better), but while considering some of the stuff I’m seeing about body and facial hair:

    1. Podium girls like a clean deck. The only exception to this rule is Faboo. You are not Faboo. Shave around the cake hole boys or sleep with your S-works in the spare bedroom. Beards are for mountain bikers and hippy fixies. Even Bobke shaved his porkchops a looooong time ago. If Bobke doesn’t have porkchops, then neither should you.

    2. Shaving the guns is for babies. The toughest among us wax every 6 weeks. Makes for a much smoother glide across the asphalt while still clipped into your Speedplays and there is no stubble. No one likes scratchy legs under the sheets, so unless you shave the guns daily, no good.

    3. If you DO shave (instead of waxing, as hairy guns are right out), for the LOVE of Eddy Merckx, gentlemen, PLEASE do NOT stop at the bottom of your bib’s leg elastics. All the way to the chamois, please. I almost horked up my Gu last week upon seeing one of my teammates hairy upper thighs. GACK!

  6. @frank

    Dude in front isn’t scared. That’s Allan Peiper. He was a baller. And, as a team-mater of Planckaert, his job was to rail it. Hair or no hair, don’t disrespect Peiper.

  7. You seem to forget that “puppy dog” Hinault won that race… against Merckx, De Vlaeminck and Maertens. Liege-Bastogne-Liege 1977

  8. @frank Cipollini is definitely not a douche. Maybe an asshole, but only in the Team America definition of an asshole. The world needs ’em. I once found a Mario Cipollini world champion jersey in a used clothing shop and it was so cheap it was worth buying even though I can never wear it less violating Rule #16.

  9. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be really something which I think I would never understand. It seems too complex and very broad for me. I’m looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!

  10. @anna frozen dress Stick with it @anna frozen dress. We never don’t not want these things to go back to the way they were or could have been without your contribution.

    And I love your dress!

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