As I type this, British Cycling is undergoing all kinds of trouble. They’ve lost technical director Shane Sutton amidst charges of sexism, able-ism, and generally being an unpleasant douche. With an investigation looming over him, and disruption to the Olympic program at the worst possible time Sutton has jumped ship.
But I’m not writing about that (although I am sure I will in the near future), today I’m writing about something at the other end of the cycling spectrum….. shaving your legs!
A rite of passage that sets the partaker apart from their frivolous flirtation with riding a bike, now the relationship is consummated, they are a cyclist.
I started shaving my legs in the previous century, I remember with fondness and great humour my very first time……
I’d not yet started shaving my face, but as a teen cyclist I felt it essential to shave my legs, to mimic John Tomac and Tim Gould, heroes both. And so I had a good soak in the bath, and proceeded to take my two-bladed Gillete razor to my legs. Imagine my horror as it clogged with just 1cm travelled, and less than that distance actually shaved!
There followed a battle with the razor over the next 20 mins as I shaved each clogging cm at a time, rinsing the blade every 10 seconds. It was a slow journey to do just the one leg.
I came up with the brain wave of using the scissors to trim the hair down for the other leg. It was a rubbish idea, so I spent another 20 minutes scrapping the hair off that leg with my newly blunted razor.
For some reason, unfathomed to this day, I wallowed in a bathtub full of teen-boy water and a floating scum of thick leg hair.
After a cursory wash (I was a teenager after all) the plug was pulled and I revelled in my newly smooth legs, bemused by how much thinner they seemed without the hair on them.
And being a teenage male, I obviously hadn’t told my parents about this fairly major step in cycling intensity, so I hot-footed it out of the bathroom and to my own den (which was actually the glorified shed in the garden).
Minutes later I heard shrieks from my mum, and bellows of laughter.
Unbeknownst to me, the hair hadn’t all gone smoothly down the plug hole (who knew!?) and the bath was covered like a wookie’s comb in hair, it was pretty hideous!
Suffice to say the mocking was fierce, but the aero gains were worth it (as were the daily smoothness tests from the girls in my year at school!).
BUT…. if you’ve read this far, then read on and find out how to do it properly!
Step 1> Preparation – it really helps if you’ve got the right tools for the job. Check out the image below for my setup.
Step 2> Electric beard trimmer – this will save about 20 minutes and 2 blades! Either do it in the bath or outside, there will be mess!
Step 3> Get in the shower, soften up those bristles, wash your hair, go for a wee (good for the environment) and give your legs a good wash to continue the softening.
Step 4> Exfoliation! It’s not as scary as it sounds, it just means giving the skin a jolly good scrub and getting rid of dead skin. It really helps to soften the bristles (notice a theme here!) and prepare the skin. It also helps to free up ingrowing hairs – making it a worthwhile part of your routine on a weekly basis. I use Rub Rub Rub by LUSH – it’s really good and leaves the skin nice and soft.
Step 4> Foam – now we are in the realms of normality when it comes to shaving. Foam it all up, don’t be shy at this stage, Sagan knows.
Step 5> The Shave. Use a new razor blade. It’s hugely frustrating to get razor rash from an old blade, so don’t skimp at this stage.
I remember reading an article about direction of the hair, but I forgot what it said. I shave upwards, I find it gives me the smoothest and easiest shave. From ankle to knee in one smooth stroke – the new Gillette razor is really very good and can cope with this distance of stubble without clogging.
Some would say to rinse the blade after every stroke, but not I! I find a reciprocal motion with the blade cleans it on the downstroke, allowing a quick repeat back up again.
Of course you do need to be cautious with regards to cuts, but smooth strokes seems to negate the risk.
Continue up around the knees, once you’ve done them once do them again as almost certainly you’ll have missed some stragglers!
Take care around the nook of your knee and the inner thigh areas, go slowly, you don’t want any nicks or rashes to develop!
Step 6> Rinse. I think it’s recommended to use cold water to close pores, but quite frankly there’s too much skin to want to do that. Once all the foam is gone, have a check for stray hairs, they can normally be found!
Step 7> Post-shave balm and moisturise. Essential for a bunch of reason, the most important of which are that it helps to keep the skin soft and smooth, but also it will lock in your suntan for longer ( and lets be honest, that’s probably the biggest reason to shave your legs!).
Step 8> Bask in your newly smooth awesomeness, and remember if you have a wife or girlfriend, there’s a strong chance you have dropped a significant number of masculinity points in the last 20 minutes.
Step 9> Repeat 3 – 7 often, no-one wants to see stubbly legs, and your significant other will not appreciate snuggling up to a spiky cactus at nights!
*EDIT* How high you shave is a private matter for you and you alone, just remember that a furry short line is a fairly ridiculous look!