The Real Reasons Tri-Guys Shave for Triathlon
A lighthearted look at why guys shave for triathlon
Hazen Kent – Tri-Newbies Online
For years I have heard a variety of reasons why male triathletes shave their body hair and primarily their legs and I guess to some extent, they all have their place in the annals of “justification”. If you were to break down the triathlon into its three components, swim, bike and run, shaving is only considered necessary in two of the three: swimming and cycling. And of these, cycling is the most common. And because you are a triathlete, you now qualify for the label of “cyclist”. This of coarse gives you the green light to shave your legs. But there are other issues to deal with…such as our vanity.
For us guys, shaving our legs is a big step, especially for the first time! Nestled among our newfound lifestyle of cool bikes, hard-bodies, testosterone and ego mania, is this… “chick” thing… called shaving your legs. And although it is a “tri-thing” men can’t help but treat it like a “chick” thing… and become unglued at though of it! Nowhere does this show more than we do the shopping at the grocery store. The innate act of grabbing razors and shaving cream off the shelves takes on a whole new meaning. We have now crossed the line. No longer are we purchasing these instruments to cut away at that burley five-oclock shadow. Now we are searching for a way to make our legs silky smooth and it changes our whole persona. I am reminded of Michael Keaton searching for feminine products while grocery shopping during the movie “Mr. Mom.”
As we leave the safety and comfort of the Cookies and Dessert Isle, we unconsciously push our cart around the corner and come face to face with…
…THE SUNDRY AISLE…
Our palms begin to sweat. We can only hope that the isle is clear…
But no such luck…
Its Friday afternoon, and the grocery store is packed. We nervously clear our throats, and begin whistling and “ ho-humming” our way down the isle waiting for the kill. Now it becomes a matter of strategy as we take a James Bond-like approach to the razor purchase. And once the coast is clear, we face the razor rack, glance to our left, glance to our right, and snatch the pack of blades from the hook and quickly throw them into the shopping cart.
Now we coolly head for the shortest route out of the isle as we shift into ‘”browse” mode. Suddenly…
Your heart begins to rush as the sweat on your palms reaches the viscosity of water. You turn to greet this familiar voice and your worst nightmare comes true. Its your burly, macho neighbor. And keeping with his Baby Huey ways he slaps you on the back, knocking you three feet forward.
“How the hell are ya?”
As if your hand was caught in the cookie jar, your eyes widen and you nervously laugh.
“ uh…I…umm…” Unconsciously you clear your throat, only this time you reach deep into your diaphragm and give a low, macho, bellowing, baritone-like response… “Just buying some ‘blades, you know…guy stuff.” And you speed off repeating to yourself… “He knows, he knows, oh how I am going to explain my shaved legs tomorrow?”
However, it won’t be long before this “chick thing’ becomes tradition. Soon you will find yourself arguing with your mate as to who left the dull razor in the shower. And although I now perform this ritual once or twice a week, I am still seeking the real reason WHY? After years of approaching cyclists with this question, about four reasons seem to come up the most:
1.Aerodynamics – With regards to cycling, this is one reason I have a hard time believing. Shaving to become “aero” applies to swimmers primarily and we will touch on that in a moment.
2. The Bike Crash – There’s an old adage that applies to cyclists and it goes something like this – “there are two types of cyclists, those that have fallen (wiped out) and those that will.” If you have never experienced the pure joy of feeling your elbow, hip or the palms of your hand become one with the asphalt, then be patient…you will! Especially, if you plan on sticking with this sport. The more mileage you put on your bike, the higher the odds of you being inaugurated into this unfortunate club. So, the shaved legs, I am told, helps the healing process – no hair to contribute to infection and Band-Aids peel off much easier.
3. The Rub-Down. I have heard that rubdowns and/or massages, are more affective when applied to a hairless leg.
4. Keeps You Cooler. Finally shaved legs are much cooler than hairy legs in the hot summer.
Now for swimmers, shaving down has always been a tradition and is both physically and psychologically beneficial. Physically, most swimmers, men and women remain as hairy as possible throughout the most intense part of their training usually during the winter months. That’s right, women too – specifically their legs. After a proper taper in preparation for a major swim meet, the swimmer will shave his/her legs, arms, back, and men will shave their chest and even their head. The removal of the body hair is said to reduce drag or water resistance allowing the swimmer to slip through the water and thus swim faster. But the real fact is, shaving for a swimmer is primarily psychological. I have shaved my chest, arms, legs, and even my head twice and only a true swimmer can understand the feeling of diving into a 76-degree pool completely shaved… You feel immortal.
So why do triathletes shave, especially if they wear a wetsuit when they swim?
There really is no need.
And then I remembered something my old swim coach used to say and do. As the winter season was coming to a close and spring was just around the corner (we used to swim outdoors year round), each afternoon just after we stretched and just prior to beginning workout, he would make us lay down on the deck to get a tan.
And I quote, “because, when you look good, you feel good, and when you feel good, you swim good.”
Let’s face it…most of us keep our legs shaved throughout our triathlon training because it looks and feels pretty cool! And yes, even the chicks dig it…once you sell them on the idea that you are a triathlete and throw in a few of those BS reasons mentioned above. My wife sure doesn’t complain.
So, basically, shaving is an ego thing…and so what if it is!
I say, what the hell…
Keep your legs shaved, stir up some controversy, look cool, feel good and hall ass in your next race!