Friday, September 20, 2013

Shaving My Legs Made Me Faster

This little one came about 9 months ago. Right at the end of cx season in WI. Now I don't know if this is the case with every expecting couple, but the last two months of the pregnancy were rough on sleep for the both of us. I also had a location change and responsibility shift in my job. This all lead to my riding less than 2 hours a week for most of the cx season last year (2 hours of exercise a week may sound like a lot to some people, but for a competitive cyclist it pretty much equals zero). I didn't have a strong season. I felt slow and weak, and I didn't have the mental toughness to race hard.

After Lulu was born, Lauren was very good about encouraging and allowing me some time to ride every week so I could stay sane. Although for a stretch of about 6 weeks I did nothing athletic, unless you count playing Dance Central 3 a few times as exercise. Spring rolled around and I got to ride a bit more, but it was still spotty. I would go weeks without exercise.

Then things changed.

I've heard all kinds of reasons for guys shaving their legs when they are cyclists. Some say it is more aerodynamic, others say that it is better for getting massages on tired legs. For me, as an off road rider, shaved legs are easier to clean up after a ride and I pick up way less ticks. Whatever the reason a male cyclist gives you for shaving his legs, what it really all comes down to this: it is part of the culture.

Which is why early in the summer I heard comments from friends on group rides like "Nice hair pants." I actually got harassed for not shaving my legs! The fact is, it wasn't high on my list of to-do's. I had other things to get done and I was happy to just get out and ride. Then one Friday I decided I had time to take the hair pants off. And suddenly, I was faster.

No, seriously. I got faster by shaving my legs. Not for any of the reasons I listed above other than the fact that it is part of the culture. The week after I shaved I exercised more than I had in months. Something clicked. I was a cyclist again.

Here is the reason: if I shaved my legs and didn't ride my bike I was just some guy who shaves his legs, and that's sort of weird. But if I shaved my legs and rode, I was a cyclist.

It is a constant reminder of the culture and community I am part of and it gives me motivation to exercise and ride even when I am  tired or at odd times of the day. I may not be as fast as I once was. I still don't have a ton of time to exercise, but now I make sure I at least do something and I make my time on the bike count.

I feel stronger physically and mentally than I have since last Summer. I am stoked that the cx season is upon us because my cycling community is getting together again and I think I just might get faster as the season goes on (as long as my legs stay smooth).

I think there is a lesson to be learned from this, but I'll let you work that through on your own.


  1. Any cyclist gets it Marc. I wish I was part of the community as well. I should probably go shave my legs now. :)

  2. So if I have to race against you, you're like Samson. I go to your house, steal your razor, and BOOM, you're slow?

    1. That's right, Paul, it's a reverse Samson thing. Maybe if I shave my head too I'll crack the podium?

  3. will shaving my back make me faster